A new survey from Gallup found that Democrats are slightly underwater with their party approval rating, but the Republican Party is on pace for the lowest election year approval rating ever.
According to Gallup, the Democratic Party’s favorable rating is at 44%. The party’s unfavorable rating is 50%, which equals a net (-6) approval rating. The Democratic situation is relatively rosy compared to what Republicans are facing. The Republicans have a 34% favorable rating, and a 59% unfavorable rating. This equals a net (-25) favorable ratings. The Republican Party has been on a nine year losing streak that has seen it post higher negatives than positives since the first year of George W. Bush’s second term in office.
A few things jump out from these numbers. The media narrative that Obama’s approval ratings are dragging down the Democratic Party continues to be vastly exaggerated. In the latest poll, the president’s approval rating split matches up with his party (44%-49%). Obama’s numbers are likely the factor that is keeping the Democrats out of positive territory, but approval ratings are relative, and the president and his party are in much better shape than their opponents.
The reason why 2014 is so close is that both parties are in the negative. This suggests that potential voters are fed up with both parties. A fed up electorate will do one of two things. They will either be completely turned off and not show up to vote, or they will vote out incumbents in both parties. The anti-incumbent wave does not appear to be developing, so it looks like there is serious potential for voters in both parties to stay home on Election Day.
If voters stay home this bad news for Democrats, as the Republican base is old white men, and these voters show up for midterms. Victory or defeat for Democrats will depend on whether they get their supporters to vote. Since midterm election turnouts are tiny, a modest improvement of one or two points for Democrats could tilt the elections in their direction.
Democrats have an opening. The Republican Party remains at historically high levels of unpopularity. All Democratic supporters need to do is get over their apathy towards midterms and vote.