A pair of new polls contains dire news for Democrats as they seek to hold on to their Senate majority and prevent Republican gains in the House in next month’s elections.
According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Wednesday, 46% of voters would prefer a Republican-controlled Congress compared to 44% who want to see Democrats in charge. The pollsters, who came from both sides of the aisle, attributed the preference for a GOP-led Congress to a record low 31% approval rating for President Barack Obama’s handling on foreign policy.
Another poll, which was released by ABC News on Wednesday, found the Republican Party has a 50%-43% advantage among likely voters in House races. Like the WSJ/NBC poll, the ABC survey found the overall numbers for the national House race contained just a slight 46%-44% advantage for Republicans. However, the outlook for the GOP improved when the pollsters looked at likely voters as Republicans’ supporters expressed greater interest in heading to the polls on Election Day.
ABC’s pollsters also attributed the GOP advantage to Obama’s low numbers. The ABC News poll found his approval rating at 40%, the lowest of his time in office so far with “career lows in approval for his handling of immigration, international affairs and terrorism.”
Republicans need to gain a net of six seats to win a majority in the Senate. They are also hoping to widen their advantage in the House. Though the pair of polls spelled bad news for the Democrats, the WSJ/NBC News pollsters noted a strong chance of “unexpected results” due to an unusually “volatile environment” created by military operations against the jihadist group Islamic State, the ebola epidemic, voter discontent, and signs of unusually high support for third party candidates.
“Something weird will happen on election night,” Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster who helped compile the survey for WSJ/NBC News said. “When you are sitting on top of an unstable, ticked-off electorate, there is a joker in the deck that ought to give us a little bit of caution.”
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