A new Democracy Corps poll revealed a nightmare scenario for Republicans where not only does Obama get reelected but Democrats regain total control of Congress.
According to Democracy Corps, for the first time in two years the Democratic Party has taken the lead on the generic congressional ballot, 47%-44%. The bad news for the GOP is that Independents have shifted back to the Democratic Party. In the previous surveys congressional Republicans led congressional Democrats by a net 9 points in October and 19 points in August with Independents, but today Democrats have taken a two point lead.
Why have the Democrats surged? The answer is that the behavior of Republicans in Congress has turned off voters. By a margin of 53%-39% respondents said the more they watched the Republicans in Congress, the less they like what they are offering. Approval of Republicans in Congress has dropped to a new low of 28%, and 8% strongly approve of the Republican caucus.
If congressional Republicans are hurting the GOP brand, the party’s 2012 presidential candidates may be making things even worse. By a margin of 53%-38% respondents said the more they watch the GOP nomination, the less they like what the Republican Party has to offer. Frontrunner Mitt Romney is not personally popular with Republicans or Independents. Only 31% of Republicans and 27% of Independents had warm feelings for Romney. Republicans are cold on Romney, and they are ready to bolt to a third party candidate.
18%-25% of Republicans and Republican leaners surveyed said that they would vote for a conservative third party candidate, and if that candidate was Ron Paul, Romney’s general election support would collapse.
Obama leads Romney by one point (47%-46%) in a two person race, but if Paul gets in, Romney loses 12 points and falls to 34%. Obama only loses three points if Paul runs as an Independent, and overall Paul draws the support of 18% of the electorate. (A third party candidacy by Ron Paul would split the Republican vote, and hand the election to Obama).
A big problem for Republicans was that President Obama remained the most personally popular politician in the poll. Obama now only trails Romney by three points with Independents, and the Democratic Party 5 points and moved into a tie with Republicans on the issue of the economy. The poll also found that Obama has more potential voters willing to support him than Romney does.
All three of these components, an unpopular Republican congress, a cold fish of a nominee, and surging incumbent president could add up to a perfect storm of defeat for the GOP. The most telling statistic is that the more people get to know the Republican Party, the less likely they are to support their candidates.
The problem with generic ballots is that unnamed candidates tend to be more popular than real people, but generic ballots can help gauge the current temperature of an electorate. Right now, the electorate is moving back to the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party could have offset the damage done by their congressional members with a warm, energizing, and inspiring nominee. Unfortunately for them, Mitt Romney is none of those things. Romney tends to leave voters cold, and helps to reinforce the negative impressions that many respondents have about the GOP.
The ultimate representation of Republican voter dissatisfaction is their willingness to vote for a third party conservative candidate. The GOP has become an unpopular party that is seriously in danger of fracturing. Add into this equation an incumbent president who is personally popular and gaining positive momentum in the polls, and the result is the potential for a disastrous defeat.
It is possible, even without the presence of an Independent conservative third party candidate that Democrats take back the House, keep the Senate, and win the White House.
The pieces are starting to fall into place for what looked like an impossible scenario after the 2010 election to become a reality in 2012.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association