Republicans Have Chance to Take Back Senate

A new poll reveals that vulnerable Democrats will have to fight to keep Senate seats.

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Cloudy skies shroud the Capitol on Nov. 21 in Washington.
A new poll shows Republicans have a lead over Democrats on the generic ballot -- good news for the GOP, which is hoping to take back the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections.

CNN/ORC International poll Tuesday shows Republicans have a 49 to 47 percent lead over Democrats on the generic ballot, a general poll that asks voters to pick between a Republican or a Democrat in the next election without naming a specific candidate.

It’s a big swing from the same poll in October, which found Democrats held an 8-percentage point advantage on GOP candidates. In that poll, 50 percent of voters said they were more likely to vote for a Democrat over 42 percent who said they’d vote for a Republican.

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The messy Obamacare rollout is likely to blame for the Democrats’ collapsing poll numbers. From a health care exchange website that is plagued with glitches to insurance companies canceling thousands of health insurance plans because they did not fit the requirements of Obamacare, voters have been turned off by Democrats.

The poll is good news for Republicans hoping to take back the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. While Democrats currently hold a 10-seat advantage in the body, a host of vulnerable Democrats, who voted for Obamacare in 2010, will have to keep seats in Republican-leaning states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina to keep the party’s majority. They’ll also have to fight to hold rural states, such as Montana and West Virginia, where senators are retiring. This poll indicates that in the House, Republicans may even be able to grow their 17-seat lead.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told CNN that Republicans are gaining an even larger edge among white voters, especially those in rural parts of the country. Democrats, on the other hand, are still picking up momentum among poor and minority voters, he notes.

"If those patterns persist into 2014, it may indicate that Obamacare is popular among those who it was designed to help the most, but unpopular among the larger group of voters who are personally less concerned about health insurance and healthcare," CNN reports.

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Polling experts, however, warn that a lot can happen between November 2013 and November 2014. They also caution that a generic ballot does not take into consideration the unique political environment that exists within each congressional district. In 2010, for example, many of the generic ballot surveys wrongly predicted Democrats had the advantage heading into a midterm election in which 87 freshman Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives.

The CNN/ORC International poll took into account the responses of 843 people who were contacted by phone. The poll, conducted between Nov. 18-20, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


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