Newsweek Poll: What Republican Advantage?

Wow, talk about a game-changer. Or should I say a meme-changer. Just last week the message that was being echoed throughout the media was that this election will be determined by the angry, white, Tea-Party voter who is overwhelmingly energized to get to the polls in November. there are now four weeks remaining and Newsweek has released a poll that crushes that meme like a roach.

Anger isn’t the only factor that’s been overhyped in the run-up to Election Day. The president, for example, appears to be a neutral force rather than a negative one. His approval rating stands at 48 percent, roughly where it has remained since January of this year, and far better than where George W. Bush stood before the 2006 midterms (33 percent) or where Bill Clinton stood in 1994 (36 percent). Meanwhile, the percentage of voters who say they will be voting “for Obama” in November’s congressional elections (32 percent) is statistically identical to the percentage who say they will be voting “against” him (30 percent). Voters dissatisfied with the country’s current course are more likely to place “a lot” of blame on Bush (39 percent) than on his successor (32 percent).

Another factor that has garnered a lot of potentially unwarranted attention is “the issues.” Simply put, in the NEWSWEEK Poll, voters said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle pretty much every problem currently facing the country: Afghanistan (by 6 points), health care (by 12), immigration (by 2, though that figure is within the margin of error), Social Security (by 14), unemployment (by 12), financial reform (by 14), energy (by 19), and education (by 19). Voters even prefer Democrats to Republicans on federal spending (by 4 points), taxes (by 5), and the economy (by 10)—the GOP’s core concerns. The only area where Republicans outpoll Democrats is the issue of terrorism, where they lead by a 6-point margin.

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