Republicans are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year’s midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows.
The independents in the poll — a majority of whom were white or male or under age 45 — continued to sour on President Obama’s job performance. Republicans hold their edge despite the fissures in their party over whether it is too conservative or not conservative enough, and many are discouraged about the party’s future.
Democrats, in turn, are more optimistic and relatively united. Nonetheless, they, too, are held in low regard over all by a public fed up with Washington’s failure to compromise, and they have failed so far to energize a broader segment of the population.
A majority of Americans surveyed also said they wanted both parties to do more to address the concerns of the middle class, reduce the budget deficit with both tax increases and spending cuts, and let illegal immigrants stay in the country and apply for citizenship. Mr. Obama shares those positions on the budget and immigration.
Those stances among voters have not translated into support for the president’s party, as 42 percent say they will back Republicans in November, and 39 percent indicate that they will back Democrats, a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
There is a sense of foreboding in the public as well, with 63 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, and 57 percent indicating that they disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy. In addition, eight in 10 Americans are dissatisfied or angry with how things are going in Washington.