Volume 6, Issue 5 • June 2010

ELECTION PREVIEW Setting the Stage
Opinions about Congress’s performance have been low all year. In Gallup’s polling, approval of the way Congress is handling its job dipped to 16 percent in March. It is 21 percent now. In Pew’s April poll, 25 percent had a favorable opinion of Congress, the lowest favorable rating in the quarter century of Pew polls. Congress’s disapproval rating in the May CBS poll was the highest it had been since CBS first asked the question in 1978. Only 15 percent approved. Both Pew and CBS reported in recent polls that people’s views of their own member, usually more positive than those of the institution as a whole, were the lowest ever. In the early June ABC/Washington Post poll, 29 percent said they were inclined to re-elect their representative, the lowest response in the poll since 1989. Approval of both Democrats and Republicans in the body is low, and a strong plurality say the country would be the same no matter which party controlled Congress.
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job? The way Congress in handling its job
Disapprove 72

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

21 Approve

1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of May 2010.

Q: Do you . . . ? May Approve of the job Republicans in Congress are doing 26% Approve of the job Democrats in Congress are doing Mar. Feb. Jan.

Q: Do you think . . . ? The country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress If the Democrats did It would be the same regardless of which party controlled Congress

34% 28% 32%

28% 27

44

34%

36% 28% 32%

Note: The March survey was conducted March 22–23, 2010, immediately after passage of the health care bill. Source: Quinnipiac, latest that of May 2010.

Note: In November 2006, those responses were 20, 39, and 37 percent, respectively. Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, May 2010.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org

Republicans Still Winning the Enthusiasm Contest
In virtually every recent poll, Republicans have been more interested in, and express more enthusiasm for, voting this fall than Democrats. In some recent polls, the generic ballot question remains even, but as Gallup notes, “Because Republicans usually have an advantage in voter turnout over Democrats on Election Day [Gallup’s early June poll has the race dead even at 46%], a close division on the generic ballot among all registered voters would generally predict a greater ultimate vote share for Republicans than for Democrats. That has been the case in past years when Republicans had strong showings on Election Day, such as in the 1994 and 2002 midterm elections. In years when Democrats fared better in midterm elections, such as in 1982 and 2006,” Gallup continues, “[the Democrats] enjoyed large leads on the generic ballot among all registered voters.”
Q: How enthusiastic would you say you are about voting for Congress this year . . . ? Extremely enthusiastic about voting for Congress this year Republicans 25% 32 25 May 2010 March January Democrats 10% 17 13

Note: Sample is registered voters. Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, latest that of May 2010.

Q:Would you say you are . . . ? Very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s Congressional elections 46% 24 24

Q: Does the way things are going in the nation today make you . . . ? More likely to vote in the elections in November Republicans Democrats Independents
Note: Sample is registered voters. Source: Quinnipiac, May 2010.

Republicans Democrats Independents

89% 81 77

Note: Sample is registered voters. Source: The Gallup Organization, May–June 2010.

Q: Right now, how interested are you in the November elections? Extremely interested in the November election 35% 23 25

Q: Please tell me how interested you are in November’s elections . . . Highly interested* Republicans Democrats Independents 65% 47 46

Republicans Democrats Independents

Note: Sample is registered voters. Source: Fox/Opinion Dynamics, June 2010.

Note: Sample is registered voters. *Respondents were asked to rate their interest on a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 representing the highest interest. Highly interested represents a ranking of 10 or 9. Source: NBC/Wall Street Journal, May 2010.

AEI POLITICAL REPORT CONTRIBUTORS
Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow; John Fortier, Research Fellow; Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar; Michael Barone, Resident Fellow. Research Assistants: Jennifer Marsico, Editor; Andrew Rugg, Editor. Intern: Lauren Hitt.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 202 .862.5800 www.aei.org .,

2

Reelection Attitudes
In a recent Pew poll, 43 percent of those surveyed say they would like to see their member of Congress reelected in the fall. This is the lowest response on this question since Pew began asking it sixteen years ago. President Obama is clearly a lightning rod for Republicans. Sixty-four percent of those who prefer a Congress controlled by Republicans say they do so because they oppose Barack Obama and Democratic candidates. Thirty-one percent say it is because they support the policies of the Republican Party and its candidates.
Q: Would you like to see your representative in Congress be re-elected in the next congressional election, or not? Q: Regardless of how you feel about your own representative, would you like to see most members of Congress reelected in the next congressional election, or not? Would like to see your representative reelected All Midterms 2010 Mar. Feb. 2006 Nov. June Feb. 2002 Oct.* Jun. 1998 Oct.** Mar. 1994 Nov. Oct.* 43% 49 55 51 59 58 58 64 63 58 49 41% 54% 36% 45 60 43 69 63 70 62 65 69 67 55 49 52 49 56 59 59 68 69 68 50 45 45 51 52 49 56 55 52 47 31 28 27% 32 37 29 36 39 45 41 45 18% 22 60 43 51 46 53 52 55 18 23 45% 17% 48 24 26 22 29 39 46 39 44 49 45 27 24 30 35 36 34 39 25 18 —Responses of— Rep Dem Ind Would like to see most members reelected All —Responses of— Rep Dem Ind

Note: Sample is registered voters. *Question asked in early October. **Question asked in late October. Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, latest that of March 2010.

President Obama as a Lightning Rod for Republicans
Q: What is your preference for the outcome of this year’s congressional elections . . . ? Q: Is your preference for a _____ more because . . . ? Prefer a Congress controlled by Republicans more because I 44% Prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats more because I 44% Support the policies of the Republican Party and its candidates Oppose Barack Obama and Democratic candidates Support the policies of Barack Obama and its candidates Oppose Republican Party and its candidates 31% 64 49% 48

Note: Sample is registered voters. In October 1994, 43 percent of registered voters said they preferred a Congress controlled by Republicans and 44 percent one controlled by Democrats. Of the Republicans, 48 percent stated their preference was because they supported the Republican Party and candidates while 34 percent stated their support was because they opposed the policies of Bill Clinton and Democratic candidates. Source: NBC/Wall Street Journal, May 2010. (continued on the next page)

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 202 .862.5800 www.aei.org .,

3

Q: If you had to choose, which type of congressional candidate would you rather vote for in November . . . ? ———————————Would rather vote for a . . . ——————————— Candidate who has been in Congress 32% Candidate who has never been in Congress National response Responses of Republicans Democrats Independents 60%

22% 45 25
Note: Question asked of registered voters. Source: Gallup/USA Today, May 2010.

71% 41 69

Q: Thinking about the elections for Congress this year, please tell me whether you would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate with each of the following characteristics . . . ? More likely to vote for a Less likely No difference candidate who to vote for either way Will make compromises with people he or she disagrees with 42% 22% 29% Supported the health care law passed earlier this year 39 35 22 Has never held elective office 24 28 43 Is an incumbent running for reelection 15 27 51 Supported the government providing major loans to banks during the 2008 financial crisis 14 49 32
Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, May 2010.

Q: Would you be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who . . . ? ——————————————More likely to vote for a candidate who—————————————— President Obama supports 43% The Tea Party supports 44% A candidate he opposes 43 The Tea Party opposes 41 No difference/both equal (vol.) 13 No difference/both equal 10
Note: Sample is registered voters. Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, May 2010.

About the Primaries So Far: Tough Times for Incumbents
A few weeks ago, David Wasserman, who watches House races for the Cook Political Report, noted the high number of House incumbents who have received less than 70 percent of the vote in their respective primaries this election cycle, which is an unusually low share for incumbents who often receive more than 80 percent of the votes in their primaries. In 2008, twenty-four incumbents fell into this category. While only twenty-five states have held primaries so far this year, thirty-one incumbents have gotten less than 70 percent of the vote. With half of the 2010 primaries yet to take place, the anti-incumbent mood in the electorate appears strong.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 202 .862.5800 www.aei.org .,

4

Putting the 2010 Midterm Contest in Historical Context
We show here two different survey organizations’ congressional race tracking questions. Most pollsters use a variant of the Gallup question. In a 2009 column, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg discussed the NBC News/Wall Street Journal question we also show here. Rothenberg quoted Peter Hart (who helped to inaugurate the NBC/WSJ poll in 1989) as saying he found the results from this question insightful.
Q: If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district, the Democratic Party’s candidate or the Republican Party’s candidate?(Gallup) Q: What is your preference for the outcome of this year’s congressional elections—a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats? (NBC/Wall Street Journal)

70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 1/14/10

2010

The Latest:
Gallup: Democra�c 47% NBC/WSJ: Democrat 43%
1/21/10 1/28/10 2/4/10 2/11/10 2/18/10 2/25/10 3/4/10 3/11/10 3/18/10 3/25/10 4/1/10 4/8/10

46% Gallup Republican NBC/WSJ: Republican 44%
4/15/10 4/22/10 4/29/10 5/6/10 5/13/10 5/20/10
49 43 42 44

Note: Asked of registered voters.
70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 1/1/06 2/1/06 3/1/06 4/1/06 5/1/06 6/1/06 7/1/06 8/1/06 9/1/06 10/1/06 Gallup: Democra�c Candidate NBC/WSJ: Republican Congress Gallup: Republican Candidate NBC/WSJ: Democrat congress 41 37

2006 2006

Election Result Dems: 52% Reps: 46%
53 52

70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20

2002

Election Result Dems: 45% Reps: 50%

Gallup: Democra�c Candidate NBC/WSJ: Republican Congress

Gallup:Republican Candidate NBC/WSJ: Democrat Congress

1/1/02

2/1/02 3/1/02

4/1/02

5/1/02

6/1/02

7/1/02

8/1/02

9/1/02 10/1/02 11/1/02

Note: Asked of registered voters. Election results provided by AEI’s Vital Statistics on Congress 2008.

Note: Gallup question asked of registered voters. NBC/Wall Street Journal question asked of national adults. October 2002 NBC/Wall Street Journal question asked of registered voters. Election results provided by AEI’s Vital Statistics on Congress 2008.

(continued on the next page)

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 202 .862.5800 www.aei.org .,

5

(continued from the previous page)
70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 1/1/98 2/1/98 3/1/98 4/1/98 5/1/98 6/1/98 7/1/98 8/1/98 9/1/98 10/1/98 Gallup: Democra�c Candidate NBC/WSJ: Republican Congress Gallup: Republican Candidate NBC/WSJ: Democrat Congress 43 40

1998

Election Result Dems: 47% Reps: 48%
47 44

70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20

1994

Election Result Dems: 45% Reps: 52%
47 46 46

Gallup: Democra�c Candidate Gallup: Democra�c Candidate, RV 3/28/94 4/28/94 5/28/94 6/28/94 7/28/94

Gallup: Republican Candidate Gallup: Republican Candidate, RV 8/28/94 9/28/94 10/28/94

2/28/94

Note: Asked of registered voters. Election results provided by AEI’s Vital Statistics on Congress 2008.

Note: Gallup surveyed national adults until late October, when it began surveying registered voters. Election results provided by AEI’s Vital Statistics on Congress 2008.

Q: Thinking about other kinds of political parties and groups, which of the following groups would you say . . . ? ——————Responses of—————— National The Democratic Party best reflects my views now The Republican Party Tea Party Green Party None of these 31% 17 14 4 28 Republicans Democrats Independents 4% 49 28 1 15 71% 1 3 7 14 17% 12 16 4 42

Note: Not all categories shown. Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, April 2010.

Poll Potpourri Support for Europe’s Leaders: Merkel’s Majority
May Italy: Confidence in Silvio Berlusconi Greece: Approval rating for George Papandreou France: Approval of Nicolas Sarkozy’s performance Germany: Voters satisfied with Angela Merkel Portugal: Approval of Jose Socrates’s performance Spain: Support for Spain’s Government (José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero) Britain: Approval of David Cameron Ireland: Support for Brian Cowen’s party 41% 43 41 58 42* 34 54 23 Jan 48% 53 43 59 46 – 46** –

Note: The question about support for Spanish government after the introduction of austerity measures. * Poll taken in late April. **The January poll on David Cameron asked about his approval as leader of the Conservative Party. Source: Italy: IPR, Greece: Public Issue Poll, France: IFOP, Germany: TNS/Infratest–dimap, Portugal: Aximage, Spain: Metroscopia, Britain: Angus Reid, Ireland: Red C Poll. Some of these results appeared in the May 25, 2010 edition of the Financial Times.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org

6

Health Care, The Latest
Q: Do you . . . ? May 2010 Approve of the federal health care overhaul Disapprove 40% Dec 2009* 38% 51 52

Note: *Question wording was, “From what you have read or heard, do you mostly approve or mostly disapprove of the proposed changes to the health care system under consideration in Congress?” Poll taken early December. Source: Quinnipiac University, May 2010.

Q: As you may know, a new health reform bill was signed into law earlier this year. Given what you know about the new health reform law, do you have a . . . ? May Apr* Mar^ Feb^ Jan^ Very/Somewhat favorable opinion 41% 46% 46% 43% 42% Very/Somewhat unfavorable 44 40 42 43 41
Note: *Question wording was “President Obama did sign a health reform bill into law last month . . .Given what you know about the new health reform law, do you have a generally. . .” ^Question wording was “As of right now, do you generally support or generally oppose the health care proposals being discussed in Congress?” Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, latest that of May 2010.

Q: Do you . . . ? Approve of the health care bill which became law in April Disapprove
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, May 2010.

43% 56

Little Luv for the Luv Gov?
Q: Do you want . . . ? ———————Responses of New Yorkers——————— All Men Women 28% 33% 23% 66 61 70 43% 52 51% 44 34% 60

Eliot Spitzer should run for statewide office this year Should not Should ever run for public office in New York again Should not
Source: Marist Poll, May 2010.

Gays in the Military
Q: Do you think people who are openly gay or homosexual should or should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military? Should Should not May 2010 78% 20 Dec 2008 81% 17 May 2007 79% 18 Dec 2003 79% 18

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, May 2007 to 2010. The Gallup Organization, December 2003.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 .,

202 .862.5800

www.aei.org

7

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden: Job Approval
Q: Do you . . . ? National Approve of the job Hillary Clinton is doing as Secretary of State Disapprove Approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as Vice President Disapprove
Source: Fox/Opinion Dynamics, May 2010.

Dems 59% 19 76% 7

Reps 43% 31

Ind 56% 21

43% 34

71% 9

20% 60

33% 38

Down in the Dumps
Q: In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time? Average Satisfaction Ratings, Midterm Election Years Satisfied 1982 1986 1990 1994 1998 2002 2006 2010 24% 60 40 33 60 52 31 23

Summer Vacation!
Q: Next, we’d like to know about your summer recreation plans, including any vacations or weekend trips you were planning to take. Which of the following applies to you . . . ? You plan to travel more this summer than you did last summer About the same Less this summer You don’t travel much during the summer
Source: The Gallup Organization, May 2010.

18% 37 27 18

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of January to May, 2010.

Oil Spill
Q: From what you’ve seen and heard, to you think . . . ? The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a major environmental disaster May June
Note: May response from Pew Research Center. Source: ABC News/Washington Post, latest that of June 2010.

55% 73

Q: Do you think the recent oil platform collapse and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is . . . ? Mostly likely an isolated incident An indication of a broader problem with offshore drilling
Source: CBS News, latest that of June 2010.

June 45% 45

May 51% 35

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 202 .862.5800 www.aei.org .,

8

Opinions on Obama
Approval and Congressional Losses during the first midterm of the presidency ——————Presidential Approval—————— June October 62% 61% 71 61 48 44 55 58 44 49 45 42 67 66 46 42 70 67 46 ? President’s party’s gain/loss in House –18 –4 –48 –12 –15 –26 –8 –54 +8 ? President’s party’s gain/loss in Senate –1 +2 –4 +1 –3 +1 –1 –8^^ +1 ?

Eisenhower Kennedy Johnson* Nixon Carter^ Reagan Bush Clinton Bush Obama

Note: *Polling data from 1966, the first midterm election of Johnson’s presidency. ^This poll was taken on June 2-5, 1978. On June 16–19 1978, 42 percent approved. ^^Sen. Richard Shelby (AL) switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party the day following the election, so that the total loss was nine seats. Clinton’s approval numbers were reported incorrectly in a previous edition of Political Report. The numbers printed here are correct. Source: The Gallup Organization. AEI’s Vital Statistics on Congress, 2008.

Q: Do you . . . ? The way Obama is handling the economy Approve 50% 56 June 2010 June 2009 Disapprove 49% 41

Q: Changing topics, please tell me whether the following statement applies to Obama, or not? Obama understands the problems of people like you Yes 51% 63 June 2010 July 2009 Obama is a strong leader Yes No June 2010 July 2009 43% 27 57% 71 56% 48 No 48% 35

Note: In March 2009, after the passage of the stimulus legislation, 60 percent approved and 38 percent disapproved. In the new June 2010 poll, of the 49 percent who disapproved of the way he is handling the economy, 37 percent disapproved strongly.

The way Obama is handling the federal budget deficit Approve 39% June 2010 48 June 2009 Disapprove

Source: ABC/Washington Post, latest that of June 2010.

The way Obama is handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Approve 44% June 2010 Disapprove 49%

Source: ABC/Washington Post, latest that of June 2010.

Q: Overall, which political party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you . . . ? Trust the Democrats to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over Trust the next few years the GOP June 2010 44% 32% August 2009 48 28 May 2008 53 32 June 2006 48 38 June 2005 46 41
Note: Not all points shown. Source: ABC/Washington Post, latest that of June 2010.

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W Washington, D.C. 20036 .,

202 .862.5800

www.aei.org

9

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.