Parsing the Polls: Glass Is Half Full (and Empty) for Congressional Dems
Welcome to the latest edition of "Parsing the Polls," The Fix's weekly look at some of the newest and most interesting political survey research.
With the leadership vacuum resulting from Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-Texas) permanent withdrawal as House majority leader, we thought it might be interesting to see how the voting public feels about Congress in this time of turmoil.
Put simply: Americans don't like or trust Congress. Three national polls taken since the first of the year show Congress with a large net negative job approval rating ranging from 30 points in a CBS poll to 14 in the latest Post/ABC survey. These numbers are fundamentally unchanged from similar polls taken late last year.
So what does the discontent with Congress means in purely electoral terms? Is it a "pox on both your houses" in the eyes of voters, or will the negative feelings mainly hurt Republicans at the ballot box this fall because they control the House and Senate?
The answer to that question varies widely depending on whom you ask.
Ask Anna Greenberg, a pollster with the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and she will tell you that "even though voters think both parties are corrupt, every single poll consistently shows Democrats with a five to eight point advantage" on corruption issues. (The Fix addressed the polling on congressional corruption in last week's "Parsing the Polls.")
"Corruption generally only works [against] the party in power," said Greenberg. She added that in a recent poll conducted by her firm, roughly 80 percent of people knew -- without prompting or having options offered to them -- that Republicans control Congress.
But if you ask Republican pollster Neil Newhouse -- a partner in Public Opinion Strategies -- he'll point out that that there is no empirical data to suggest that the public is differentiating between Democrats and Republicans when offering their views on Congress. "It's both parties that are suffering under the weight of Congress's high disapproval scores," Newhouse said.
As evidence of the bipartisan disdain with which voters hold Congress, Newhouse noted a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that included a question asking voters to compare the policies being proposed by GOP congressional leaders to those of Democratic leaders and judge whether they would "move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction."
Forty percent said the policies advocated by the Republican leadership in the House and Senate was moving America in the right direction compared to 50 percent who said those policies were moving the nation in the wrong direction. The Democratic numbers were better, though not by much -- 44 percent said the party's policies were moving things in the right direction compared to 43 percent who said Democratic policies would send the country in the wrong direction.
Looking at those numbers, Newhouse concluded they represent "a warning sign for ALL incumbent members of Congress, regardless of party."
What do you think of these numbers? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
Georgia Governor's Race
For those Fix readers keeping close track of gubernatorial races, make sure to check out a recent survey conducted by Zogby International for the Atlanta Journal Constitution that shows Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) with strong leads over Secretary of State Cathy Cox (D) and Lt. Gov. Mark " The Big Guy" Taylor (D). Perdue holds a 53 percent to 37 percent lead over Cox and a wider 56 percent to 31 percent margin over Taylor. Those numbers don't bode well for Democrats, who saw Perdue as a major target of opportunity.
One interesting side note in the AJC poll is that Ralph Reed (R), who is running for lieutenant governor, appears to be struggling to grab onto Perdue's coattails. Reed, whose name repeatedly pops up in connection with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was thought of favorably by 23 percent compared to 19 percent who viewed him unfavorably -- not an ideal starting point for a candidacy. In addition, Reed was losing to a generic Democratic candidate 36 percent to 33 percent.
Out west in California, Democrats looking for an upset in the 50th District special election got a boost Tuesday with the release of a poll showing that their candidate -- 2004 nominee Francine Busby -- is far better known than her potential Republican opponents and is thought of very favorably by voters in the San Diego-area district. The poll, done by Datamar Inc., found that 80 percent of voters recognized Busby's name, with 56 percent thinking favorably of her compared to just five percent with an unfavorable opinion.
The three best known Republicans -- state Sen. Bill Morrow, former Rep. Brian Bilbray and former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian -- are the three favorites for the nomination. Bilbray, who represented the old 49th district from 1994 to 2000, was recognized by 79 percent of the sample, although just 29 percent (20 favorable/9 unfavorable) offered an opinion. Morrow had a nearly five-to-one favorable/unfavorable ratio and was recognized by 69 percent of respondents. Kaloogian, a controversial former member of the state Assembly, had a 15 percent favorable rating and an 8 percent unfavorable score. (Click here for the Democratic results and here for the Republican ratings.)
It makes sense that Busby is the best known of all the potential candidates given her 2004 race and the publicity surrounding former Rep. Duke Cunningham's (R) resignation, and her strong numbers argue that she will be competitive in the April 11 all-party primary. But any Democrat faces a tough challenge in winning this district.
Posted by: Former Dem Pollster | January 11, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Peter L. | January 11, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: felicity smith | January 11, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jenniferm | January 11, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steve Soto | January 11, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Elrod | January 11, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tarheel Guy | January 11, 2006 8:42 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.