What do the polls say about the mid-term elections?

12:33, September 24, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Polls, polls, everywhere polls.

In the run up to the November congressional elections, there are polls on who is ahead in Congress; on how Americans view the economy; and on how the public views U.S. President Barack Obama' s healthcare overhaul virtually all the issues the Obama administration has dealt with in its nearly two years in office.
And that makes it easy to get lost in the abundance of information.

But which polls are most important, and what do they say about the outcome of the November congressional elections?

Overall, the polls reflect significant problems for Democrats: The president is unpopular not as much as former U.S. President George W. Bush at the end of his term -- but unpopular nonetheless. The economy is also a wreck.

Add to those factors the fact that Democrats must defend many open seats, or seats they won recently in Republican- leaning areas, and a big GOP gain is likely, said John Fortier, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Based on those dynamics, the most likely outcome for Republicans is winning a small House majority and 48 or 49 Senate seats, he said.


But of all the factors influencing the elections, pundits, experts and polls unanimously point to the economy. According to a Gallop survey released Tuesday that asked respondents to name the most important issue facing the United States today, 33 percent cited the economy in general and 28 percent said jobs.

Dissatisfaction with government came in at 11 percent; followed by 7 percent who cited the federal budget deficit and 6 percent who pointed to healthcare.

"(The economy) is the factor that will drive voting behavior and citizen unhappiness with government performance," said Darrell M. West, director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. "Voters are bottom-line oriented and if they feel performance is unsatisfactory, they will penalize Democrats and vote Republican."

Right now, voters are frustrated with high unemployment and massive government deficits. They do not like what they see, and that will enable Republicans to pick up many seats in November, he said.


Much attention has been given in recent months to polls measuring voters' approval of Congress. In September, public approval ratings stood at just 18 percent, which is not far from record lows of 14 percent, according to a Gallup/USA Today poll released Monday.

Still, Fortier said public opinion of Congress is not particularly important in predicting the outcome of the mid terms.

"In midterm elections, the president's standing matters, not the opinion of Congress if it is quite low in both parties," he said.

Indeed, the president's popularity rate, which has dropped continuously for several months, is a major source of worry for Democrats in Congress.

Low approval numbers can drag down the popularity of a congressional candidate, and some Democratic candidates appeared to distance themselves from the president in recent months.

A CNN nationwide polls released Tuesday found that Obama's approval ratings stands at 46 percent.

In contrast, 49 percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing, just six weeks before the November elections.


Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, said Americans'feelings on the nearly 1 trillion U.S. dollar stimulus, which Obama passed last year in an effort to stave off economic disaster, are likely to play a role in November.

Indeed, a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted in August found that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the stimulus and 43 percent approved of it.

While Democrats tout the stimulus as helping to create jobs, Republicans say the opposite, and voters are more persuaded by the latter group, he said.

That has hurt Democrats significantly, as has the GOP drumbeat over the ballooning deficit has also hurt Democrats, who believe the rising U.S. debt is manageable in the long run, he said.

Source: Xinhua


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Chinese Navy soldiers hold an evening party marking the upcoming 62nd National Day aboard Chinese Navy hospital ship "Peace Ark" in the Pacific on Sept. 28, 2011. The Chinese National Day falls on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2011 shows the crowd at the plaza of Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, capital of China. The railway transportation witnessed a travel peak with the approach of the seven-day National Day holidays on Friday. (Xinhua)
  • A man wearing high-heel shoes takes part in the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event when men literally walk in women's shoes to raise awareness about ending violence against women, at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows a cargo ship in danger on the sea near Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province. Cargo ship Fangzhou 6 of Qingzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region lost control after water stormed into its cabin due to Typhoon Nesat on the sea near Zhuhai Thursday, leaving 12 crew members in danger. Rescuers rushed to the ship and saved them by using a helicopter. (Xinhua)
  • Actress Gong Li poses for L'Officiel Magazine. (Xinhua Photo)
  • Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold placards as they march in the financial district of New York September 29, 2011. After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away. Zuccotti Park is a campground festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Hot Forum Discussion