Rasmussen released a poll this week revealing that only 25% of likely voters believe that America is heading in the right direction. Just one year ago, this viewpoint was expressed by 30% of likely voters.
This is up two points from the week before which tied the lowest level of confidence since last October during the temporary government shutdown. The number who say the country is heading in the right direction has been below 30% for most of this year.
Early last October during the shutdown, confidence in the country’s course fell to 13%, the lowest finding in five years.
Sixty-six percent (66%) of voters now think the country is headed down the wrong track. This finding is down three points from 69% a week ago, the highest negative finding since last November. Eighty percent (80%) felt the country was on the wrong track in early October 2013.
Notably, 70% of likely voters not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic Party believe that the country is on the wrong track—which exceeds the average by 4 points.
This latest poll comes at a time when President Obama’s approval rating is hovering above his all-time low of 38%. With just 41% of Americans willing to admit they approve of the way the President is doing his job (down 2 points since August 24,) Republicans are finding themselves with a key strategic advantage as we move into the last 60 days before the November elections.
The 4% difference between all likely voters and unaffiliated likely voters who disapprove of the direction the country represents a demographic—however small—that is up for grabs. Additionally, with 60% of moderates feeling similarly, Republicans have a clear opportunity to capitalize on the dissension and present their solutions to issues that move voters most.
Even outlets like the New York Times, which tend to thrive on the tears of disappointed Republican hopes, are toying with the possibility of overall Republican victory in the miderms:
Anything, of course, is still possible. Labor Day is traditionally the start of the campaign, not the end. But what may be more likely than a Republican rout is that 2014 ends up somewhere between 2010 and 2012. Not a Republican landslide or a Democratic victory, but a fairly neutral if Republican-tilting year in which the G.O.P. benefits from a large number of competitive races in red and purple states.
The Republicans would still have an excellent chance to retake the Senate in that scenario. No Republican wave is needed to beat Democrats in an open state like Iowa, or to unseat Democratic incumbents in states as red as Louisiana, Arkansas or Alaska. Republicans would also benefit from an older, whiter midterm electorate, especially in North Carolina, where Democrats depend on the so-called “new” Democratic coalition of young and nonwhite voters. A Democratic midterm turnout problem would allow Republicans to perform better than they did in 2012, even if national conditions were just as favorable for Democrats.
Although the article emphasizes the lack of movement on the general ballot, it’s important to remember that most campaigns use September 1 as a jump-off point to ramp up their GOTV efforts. Democrats may be targeting their “new” coalition, but but so are Republicans. Republicans should see this poll not as a mandate to victory, but as an invitation to pitch something better.
Republicans—especially those who have been on the Hill for a while—are starting to realize that when it comes to targeting unaffiliated and nontraditional demographics, it all comes down to context. Concepts like “liberty” and “big government” go over well with the conservative base because that’s what originally drove the base to organize; but for someone who is either unaffiliated with the party, or who has never really had the chance to talk to a conservative candidate, those concepts don’t translate as easily. They see “freedom” in terms of being able to choose their doctor, or their child’s school, and “tax and spend” in terms of how much of their paycheck goes to the government every month.
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