Voters are feeling more positive about the Democratic Party than about the Republicans as the GOP prepares to hand over control of Congress in January, according to a new NPR poll. And with his approval rating remaining low, President Bush will find it tough to keep Republican lawmakers on his side, the numbers suggest.
Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger conducted the survey of likely voters. They found that unlike some previous elections, the 2006 midterms were not a release valve. In other words, according to Bolger, voters are still angry, mostly at Republicans.
Sometimes when voters get the result they want in an election, they feel better about the country. But the survey showed that although the number of voters who believe the country is on the wrong track stayed the same as before the election, the number of voters who think the country is on the right track dropped.
And while President Bush's approval rating is still around 40 percent, Bolger points out that the president's strong approval is at 17 percent, and his strong disapproval rating is at 45 percent. That suggests that the president will be facing an increasingly difficult challenge keeping Republican members of Congress on his side.
Even before last month's election, many Republicans were starting to break with the president; now they will be under even more pressure to do so.
Bolger and Greenberg asked voters a "thermometer question" — to measure how warm or cool they were toward the parties. For the first time in many years, the Democrats' rating on a scale of 1 to 100 was 53; the Republicans scored 44. Greenberg points out that this gives Democrats an opportunity, but not a free pass. Bolger says Republicans are still in a hole and must claw their way back into the trust of the public.