Los Angeles — A year of partisan wrangling over health care, frothy tempests churning the political teapot and a new presidential administration suffering the usual fading bloom have take a toll on Democrats, according to two new polls.
Not since 1994, when Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years, have the two major parties been as politically competitive in congressional races, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found the nation evenly split on matters such as health care overhaul, President Barack Obama’s performance and which party would do better in dealing with the economy.
Politically, a tie bodes ill for Democrats, the party that controls Congress and the White House. It is also a step back from strong Democratic electoral results in 2006 and 2008.
GOP gains are especially surprising because polls indicate that Americans overwhelmingly believe that that Congress is broken. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that almost four of five respondents were down on Congress, and other polls have been even more devastating on Congress’ ability to deal with issues such as health care.
According to that poll, Republicans are tied with Democrats, at 31 percent, on which party better handles the economy, and they have moved ahead on reducing the deficit (30 percent to 24 percent) and taxes (36 percent to 25 percent), and have maintained their edge on combating terrorism (36 percent to 22 percent).
Politically, Democrats have a slight edge, 47 percent to 44 percent, over Republicans in Gallup’s weekly report on the race for Congress. Although that is unchanged from last week, Gallup notes “this represents a significantly smaller margin for the Democrats than the final Gallup estimate before the last midterm elections, in 2006.
“Gallup trends suggest that the Democrats’ current three-point advantage among registered voters would probably translate into a Republican lead among likely voters, pointing to a highly competitive election this fall for majority control of Congress,” according to the polling firm.