Since its passage nearly four years ago, a plurality of Americans has disapproved of the Affordable Care Act. Since the onset of the Great Recession 6 years ago, more than 80% of Americans have rated economic conditions as only fair or poor. And since winning a second term, Barack Obama’s approval score has mostly been in the mid-40s or lower. One or more of these attitudes will have to move in a clearly positive direction for the Democratic Party to avoid a drubbing in the congressional elections, according to a new analysis of voter opinion.
A special analysis of a recent Pew Research Center/USA Today survey suggests that these three factors are strong correlates of congressional preferences in 2014. Taken together, opinions about the national economy, the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s job performance accurately predict congressional voting intentions. For example, in the most recent Pew Research survey, these three pieces of information are enough to identify 86% of registered voters who plan to vote for the Republican candidate in their district.
The poll from which these analyses were made found 47% of registered voters supporting or leaning to Republican candidates in their district compared to 43% favoring the Democratic candidates. This is a better showing for the GOP than in other surveys over the past six months. Odds are, if this poll were based on likely voters rather than all registered voters, the Republicans would hold a significant lead.
The survey also showed 26% of voters saying they will be casting a vote against the president in November, which is roughly the same percentage who said they were doing so in 2010, when his party’s poor showing cost it control of the House of Representatives. The poll identified jobs as the most important issue, followed by health care. In that regard, the public has come to the view that the president’s signature legislation is probably “here to stay,” even as it remains widely unpopular.