Poll: GOP Expands Advantage Days Before Midterm Election - Washington Wire - WSJ - FACTOIDS
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Poll: GOP Expands Advantage Days Before Midterm Election - Washington Wire - WSJ

Republicans have expanded their advantage in the final days of the midterm campaign and now hold an 11-point lead among likely voters on the question of which party should control Congress, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds.

Some 52% of likely voters in the survey said they wanted the election to produce a Republican-led Congress, while 41% favored Democratic control.

A week earlier, Republicans had held a narrower, 5-point lead on the question in the Journal/NBC/Annenberg survey.

“The Democrats, who badly need some momentum, find little comfort in these results some ten days out from the election,” said pollster Peter D. Hart, who helped conduct the survey. “The thread holding things together for them is both more slender and now even frayed.”


By historical measures, an 11-point lead on the question of which party should control Congress is large. Republicans held a seven-point lead on the question at this point in the 2010 election in a Journal/NBC survey, which used a different method to determine which voters were most likely to cast ballots. Republicans went on that year to make big gains in the Senate and to retake the majority in the House.

In the new survey, Republicans also led on the “congressional control” question among registered voters, a broader group than likely voters, with 46% favoring GOP leadership and 42% favoring Democratic control. The GOP lead had been two percentage points a week earlier.

“The GOP appears to be solidifying its lead,” said Mr. Hart.

The midterm battle for control of the Senate will hinge on state-by-state dynamics in about a dozen closely contested races, where Democrats hope intensive campaigning has built a climate more favorable to their candidates than national polls suggest.

Still, the Journal/NBC/Annenberg survey points to a national political climate that continues to favor Republicans. Coming amid fears of Ebola, the U.S. war on Islamic State terrorists and intensified campaigning just ahead of the election, the survey found that recent events had taken a toll on both parties but had hurt Democrats more.

Asked whether the events of the past few weeks made them feel more or less favorably toward the parties, 53% said it made them less favorable toward Democrats; 40% said they were less favorable toward Republicans.

The poll underscored that anti-Obama sentiment remains strong, but also that President Barack Obama isn’t central to the election for a plurality of likely voters.

Asked whether their votes for Congress would be a signal of support or opposition to Mr. Obama, 13% said it signaled support, while 22% said it signaled opposition. Some 34% said it was not a signal either way.

At the same time, voters registered strong dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama’s response to the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. Among likely voters, 57% disapproved of his handling of the situation, while 40% approved.

Most of those who disapproved–some 87%–said they believed Mr. Obama’s response was not aggressive enough. Only 9% said they disapproved because they thought the U.S. response was too aggressive.

The poll, conducted Oct. 17-23 with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for registered voters and plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for likely voters.

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