POLITICS
04/29/2014 08:37 am ET | Updated Apr 30, 2014

New Poll Spells Potential Trouble For Democrats' Midterm Chances

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Barack Obama's approval rating remains mired in the mid-40s, and there are signs his unpopularity could weigh on Democrats this November, a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday finds.

The survey, which follows several months of mixed but often slightly improved numbers for the president, finds that just 41 percent approve of Obama's job performance. That rating is down 5 points from Post/ABC surveys in January and March and by a narrow margin his worst showing to date in their polling. Approval for Obama's handling of the economy remains in the low 40s. Opinion of the Affordable Care Act, which rose to a near-majority in March, is back at 44 percent, with half saying the implementation was worse than they expected.

An Allstate/National Journal Heartland poll, with full results to be released next month, also puts Obama's approval at a low of 41 percent. That poll found his rating was especially low among the older, working-class white voters likely to turn out in many of the most crucial Senate contests. Earlier polls this year, including a March NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, found the president similarly unpopular.

HuffPost Pollster's average, which incorporates all public polling, shows Obama's approval barely ticking up this year, rising about a point since January. The Pollster average currently puts him just under 44 percent, barely a percentage point better than his all-time low of 42.5 in December.

Obama's approval, if it remains stagnant, could pose problems down ticket in November. But his numbers aren't the only warning sign for Democrats in the Post/ABC poll. A 53 percent majority of Americans said they'd like Republicans to control Congress as a check on Obama's policies, comparable to the 51 percent who said so before the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.

The party retains an edge on some issues: Americans are 6 points more likely to trust them than Republicans to handle the country's main problems, and the party retains a significant lead on dealing with women's issues and helping the middle class. Americans also view themselves as more aligned with the Democrats on gay marriage, the minimum wage, and global warming. Nationally, Democrats have made a targeted push on raising the minimum wage, hoping to convince Democrats to vote on Election Day and sway persuadable voters.

But Democrats have just a 1-point edge, 45 percent to 44 percent, over the GOP as the party that registered voters would prefer to elect to the House of Representatives -- a troubling number for the party that traditionally has more difficulty in turning out voters for the midterms. The poll also found that 72 percent of Democratic voters say they're certain to vote this year, compared to 78 percent of Republicans. Other key Democratic constituencies report being even less sure they'll vote -- just 53 percent of those ages 18-39 and 55 percent of nonwhites, compared to 79 percent of those 65 and older and 73 percent of white voters.

The Post/ABC poll surveyed 1,000 adults between April 24 and 27, using live phone calls to both landlines and cell phones.

Mark Blumenthal contributed reporting.

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