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Poll Finds GOP Leads in Generic Congressional Ballot, But Slipping

December 10, 2009

Congressional candidates and Shruggers alike, take note of the following poll recently released by Rasmussen (especially the part about Tea Parties–more on that later this week):

Republican candidates have just a four-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 39% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

Although Republicans maintained their lead over Democrats, support for GOP candidates is down three points from last week. Republicans have held the lead for over four months now. Democrats currently have majority control of both the House and Senate.

But if a Tea Party candidate is in the race, the picture changes dramatically. A separate, three-way Generic Ballot test finds that Democrats attract 36% of the vote, while the Tea Party candidate picks up 23% and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.

Since late June, support for Republican candidates on the regular two-way Generic Ballot has ranged from 41% to 44%, while support for Democrats has run from 36% to 40%. Looking back a year ago, the two parties were in a much different place. Throughout the fall of 2008, support for Democratic congressional candidates ranged from 42% to 47%. Republican support ranged from 37% to 41%.

In November, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to a four-year low but is still more than the number who call themselves Republicans.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republican voters believe their party’s congressional leaders are out of touch with the party base. By contrast, a plurality (47%) of Democratic voters says their congressmen agree with them ideologically.

While other polling firms appear to show different results on the generic ballot, Real Clear Politics explains the differences in survey samples and question ordering, stating, “If you are asking which pollsters have it right, I’d probably put my money on Gallup-Rasmussen.”

Massachusetts Democrats vote today in a special primary to pick their candidate for the U.S. Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy, and state Attorney General Martha Coakley holds a 15-point lead among likely primary voters. The special Senate election will be held next month.

Voters nationwide are now evenly divided over whether their own congressman deserves another term in office. Just one-in-three voters (33%) nationwide believe their current representative in Congress is the best person for the job.

The Senate debate on a plan to reform health care in America is heating up, but most voters remain opposed to the plan working its way through Congress.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of adults think the nation’s unemployment rate will be the same or higher a year from today.

Yet 56% of Americans oppose the passage of a second economic stimulus package this year. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats are hoping to spend more to combat unemployment, just 33% favor another stimulus.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke voiced his opposition to legislation calling for regular audits of the Fed’s monetary policies, but 79% of Americans think auditing the Fed – proposed by Republican Congressman Ron Paul — is a good idea.

The president’s plan for Afghanistan, outlined in a nationally televised speech last week, earns mixed reviews from voters. But 34% now believe the situation in Afghanistan will get better in the next six months, the highest level of confidence this year. Still, slightly more voters (39%) expect the situation to get worse in the near future.

To see the trends over the course of this year, visit Rasmussen here.

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