Democrats are likely to face a daunting challenge in November's midterm elections, according to a Pew Research/USA Today poll released Monday -- the latest addition to a string of surveys that point to weak numbers for President Barack Obama and a lack of enthusiasm on the left.
Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they'd choose a GOP congressional candidate to represent their district, while 43 percent said they would prefer a Democrat.
Pew's last three polls had Democrats slightly ahead, and other recent polls have shown a more even split between the two parties: an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll fielded on roughly the same dates had the Democrats and Republicans tied, while an ABC/Washington Post survey gave Democrats a 1-point lead.
Those results, however, are still troubling for Democrats, who face a significant turnout disadvantage in midterm elections. By contrast, in the April before the 2006 midterms, when Democrats won control of the House, they led by 10 points in a Pew poll. In March 2010, eight months before the GOP retook the House, the parties were tied at 44 percent.
"Though Election Day is six months away — a lifetime in politics — at the moment, Democrats are saddled by angst over the economy, skepticism about the health care law and tepid approval of the president," USA Today's Susan Page and Kendall Breitman write.
HuffPost Pollster's model, which incorporates all public polling, estimates that Republicans lead Democrats by about a point.
Obama's job ratings have remained virtually unchanged since last autumn, and his political standing is "in some respects weaker than it was at a comparable point in the 2010 campaign," according to the Pew report. His net approval stands at -6, compared to +5 in late April before the last midterm.
Most voters don't view this election as a referendum on Obama, according to the poll. But among those who do, he represents a drag on the ticket. While 54 percent of voters say Obama won't be much of a factor in their vote for Congress, 26 percent say they'll consider it a vote against him, and just 16 percent a vote for him. Only 31 percent of Democrats see their vote as being for Obama, down from 47 percent in February 2010.
The congressional leadership of both parties is even less popular, with just 23 percent approving of Republican leaders in Congress, and 32 percent of Democratic leaders.
Pew Research surveyed 1,501 Americans, including 1,162 registered voters, between April 23 and April 27, using live telephone interviews to reach both landlines and cell phones.