Pollsters: Obama's Failures Key to GOP Victory in Midterms

Republicans can win by campaigning against the president's policies, GOP pollsters say.

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Vice President Joe Biden listens as President Barack Obama speaks Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

A new public opinion survey provides a road map for Republican victory in the midterm elections this fall if the GOP can make President Barack Obama's failures the central issue, two GOP pollsters say.

"Clearly the American electorate is growing weary of a president who is very good at hiding behind his intentions, while demonizing the intentions of his opponents, only to show little if any improvements in the daily lives of those he claims to be fighting for," said pollsters Ed Goeas and Brian Neinaber.

The "battleground poll" was conducted for George Washington University by The Tarrance Group – a Republican-oriented polling firm led by Goeas and Neinaber – and Lake Research Partners, a Democratic-oriented firm.

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Sixty-seven percent of likely voters say the country is on the wrong track, and 54 percent disapprove of Obama' job performance, according to the poll. About 81 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing, but 47 percent approve of the job performance of their current member of Congress, while 44 percent disapprove.

This is a turnaround from last fall, when a plurality of voters disapproved of their member's job performance. Still, 54 percent believe it's time to give a "new person a chance" in Congress. The House currently is controlled by Republicans and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

In their analysis of the poll, released to reporters Wednesday, Goeas and Neinaber said, "Since our October 2013 Battleground Poll, the shaky rollout of Obamacare has continued and the nation's perpetually weak economy limps along with employment of the adult workforce at a 38-year low, leading likely voters to continue to hold remarkably negative views about the political environment and their political leaders, especially the current administration."

Addressing the issue of income inequality, which Obama says will be his big theme this year, the pollsters said the Republicans should not "sit back and allow the president and Democrats to demonize them as not caring about people."

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"This is not a battle about who cares about people," they said. "This is a battle about opportunity, and a battle for the middle class. And right now, Republicans start this battle from the high ground."

The pollsters concede that the image of Congress is very poor – which could be a sign that many incumbents will be in trouble – but argue that campaigning against Obama and his policies will be the ticket to a GOP victory.

Fifty-seven percent of voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy and 63 percent disapprove of his handling of the federal budget and spending, according to the poll. He gets 54 percent disapproval on "jobs," 54 percent on the issue of "taxes" and 55 percent on "solving problems."

Democrats argue it's the GOP that is on the wrong side of the issues, with many Republican legislators opposing Obama's proposed immigration reforms, his plan to raise the minimum wage and his support for extending unemployment benefits. Democratic strategists say all this will hurt Republican candidates in the midterms.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.