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Republican Prospects: Then and Now

The Republican Party's successful wooing of several strong candidates for Congress may be giving party insiders reason to hope for a better return at the ballot box next November than they've earned in each of the previous two cycles, but compared with data collected four years ago - at about this point before the 2006 midterm contests - polling continues to portend rough waters ahead for the party of Lincoln.

Over the course of the past two election cycles, Republican affiliation has dropped to its lowest level in more than 25 years, and trust to handle major issues facing the nation has shifted toward Democrats. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, the Democratic party far outpaces the GOP in favorability, with 53 percent viewing the Democrats positively compared with 36 percent for the Republicans. Among independents, it's 48 percent to 36 percent.

And these numbers make 2006 look like a walk in the park.

In June 2005, Democrats and Republicans in Congress held identicial approval ratings - 42 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove - and the parties were near parity in favorability - 49 percent viewed Republicans positively, 51 percent Democrats - and in terms of size - as 30 percent considered themselves Democrats, 31 percent Republicans and 34 percent independents. Further, Democrats held only a slim, five-point advantage on handling the nation's top problems (46 percent to 41 percent).

Despite the seeming even splits, there were some signs of trouble for the GOP back then. Half said they were inclined to consider a challenger in their local house race, the first time that had happened since 1997, and party favorability among independents was nearly as bad for Republicans as it is now (39 percent had a favorable view of Republicans compared with 51 percent for Democrats).

The Republican Party's losses in 2006 and 2008 are attributed largely to negative views of then President George W. Bush and the unpopular war in Iraq, and some are pinning their hopes for a 2010 GOP resurgence on an increasingly negative take on President Obama. While Obama's approval rating has declined somewhat since his 100-day-mark high (65 percent, compared with 69 percent in April), it remains well above Bush's at the same stage in his presidency (55 percent) or at this stage in the 2006 cycle (48 percent) - particularly among those crucial independents (65 percent approve of Obama's job performance, compared with 38 percent who approved of Bush in June 2005).

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 8, 2009; 12:11 PM ET
Categories:  Congress , Post Polls  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: MJ: The Way He Made Us Feel
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Not that Republicans will be winning back all the seats they lost, but the new Rasmussen generic ballot indicates the GOP is not doing all that bad:

"A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 38% would choose the Democratic candidate.

Voters not affiliated with either party like GOP candidates by a 37% to 21% margin, showing little change since last week."

Posted by: johnnydrama36 | July 8, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

After reading the polls questions here I have to say, I trust the Rasmussen poll more.

Question 6 on this poll is asking about President Obama vs the Republicans in Congress, the Democrats control congress not Republicans. Is this poll trying to be misleading and blame republicans for the ineptitude of the current congress.

The Democrats have had a majority since 2006 and have a Super majority in both houses now. Republicans are not the problem in Congress.

Posted by: win1 | July 8, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

The GOP can pin their hopes on the mid-terms elections all they want. It just ain't going to happen. Why? The GOP has not changed one bit. In 2010 they will still roll out the same ole 30 second negative ads etc etc.....
The simple truth is that every time President Obama steps up, he bowls a perfect strike & the Republicans scatter like so many bowling pins. This has now happened so many times that the GOP can't even line back up anymore. Game over. (In 2010)

Posted by: JoeNTx | July 9, 2009 3:21 AM | Report abuse

John Tantillo has done a few posts on the Repulican and Democratic parties on Fox Forum, analyzing them from a branding perspective. It's an interesting way to look at them - worth checking out -

Last week, in his weekly winner/loser blog post, he named Governor Sanford the brand loser, pointing out that in personal political brands there is less room for error than with celebrity brands. (Michael Jackson was the brand winner: "You know a brand is strong when people would rather that none of the scandal had ever happened to it.") Full post.

Posted by: elo8 | July 9, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Obama has already peaked at his high water mark. Now, he has nowhere to go except down in popularity. But really he doesn't care. He's guaranteed one-hundred to two-hundred million of dollars for helping banks to shovel-in taxpayer's monies. That's the real reason the fella ran for anyway.

Posted by: sperrico | July 9, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I like the people jumping desperately on Obama's lowered numbers. They neglect to add that Obama's numbers match Reagan's at the same mark in his first year of office. And neglect to add that in Reagan's 2nd year in office, unemployment hit 11%. (And this information came from Fox News, of all places, so Republicans can't cry this is just more "liberal nonsense", lol)

Posted by: woebegoner | July 12, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

A lot of polls-of-polls are now producing versions sans Rasmussen to correct for the clear conservative skew that occurs when Rasmussen is included.

Posted by: nodebris | July 12, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The Post runs one chirpy "GOP comeback" story after another after another. We keep hearing about how this nonentity or that knucklewalker is going to ride a wave of resentment or anger and bring Republicans back into national office.

What rubbish.

GOP supporters openly pine for some catastrophe like further economic collapse or, better still, another "terrorist attack" resulting in the deaths of thousands of Americans to make the survivors "wake up."

They don't even bother suggesting that the GOP will come up with any good ideas, and new approach to governance, or an electable candidate, because not even those trolls are stupid enough to believe that.

Forget it. The demographic trends are only going to get worse for Republicans, and worse still, the national amnesia that served them so well during Bush-Cheney seems to have worn off.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 12, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Like many readers, I am not sure where the Post is coming from.

While there is frustration among the general population with our high unemployment rate, Obama and the democrats can take solace that their opponents are struck in reverse and hankering for the "golden age" of President Reagan.

What the GOP can't get past is that they have created problems that they can't solve with their current methodology or with the tools they have at their disposal.

At the present the party has not faced the simple reality: its time to re-invent themselves again.

They must reject Reaganism and embrace Jim Baker III.

They must ressurrect TQM while distancing themselves from the CEO's and the big money boys.

I doubt they can do it.

Posted by: agapn9 | July 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"he Democrats have had a majority since 2006 and have a Super majority in both houses now. Republicans are not the problem in Congress.
Posted by: win1 | July 8, 2009 9:29 PM"
It's called the filibuster, Republicans have used it a record amount of times since the Dems took control in 2006. That's called "Obstructionism" it makes it so congress can't get anything done. Then the minority party has the gaul to call it the "do nothing congress".

Posted by: JRM2 | July 14, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I would not be so fast to right-off any politcal alternative. That's how a really unknown and inexperienced man became president. If the "mood" of the American people is "change" at election time there will be change. The party in power is always on defense when things are "perceived" as "bad". Democrats, like it or not, will have to "defend" a status quo in 2010. If the economy and unemployment is not better it will be very difficult.

Posted by: star_key2 | July 15, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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