The results of our most recent national monthly omnibus poll show some important trends:
‐Two thirds of all voters, 64 percent, still say the country is on the wrong track. Only 28 percent say it’s headed in the right direction.
This wrong-track sentiment is strongest among Republicans (85 percent) and independents (70 percent), and also registers at 47 percent among Democrats.
‐President Obama’s job approval is showing a slow, steady recovery from a decisive negative on last November’s Election Day, from 42 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove (–14 percent) to a more evenly polarized 48 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove (–2 percent). This is a net improvement of 12 points.
‐As it did for the last cycle, the generic ballot for Congress remains a dead heat, at 43 percent apiece for Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans intend to vote for Republicans 92 percent to 3 percent. Democrats intend to vote Democratic 86 percent to 7 percent. Independents slightly favor Republicans, 38 percent to 33 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Republicans are losing their decisive edge among independents. However, the undecided vote for Congress still disapproves of the job the president is doing; only 36 percent approve and 58 percent disapprove. They say that the country is on the wrong track, 68 percent to only 21 percent for the right direction. The key to winning will be the 8 percent who are undecided and disapprove of the job the president is doing, and the very similar 8 percent who are undecided and say the country is on the wrong track.
‐As shutdown talk was increasing in the news, the previously consistent 5-to-3 majority of voters who preferred smaller government with fewer services over larger government with many services narrowed, in one month, from a 25 percent edge to 15 percent: 49 percent for smaller government to 34 percent for larger government.
‐Hillary Clinton remains a strong net negative, with only 41 percent of the voters being favorable to her and 51 percent unfavorable. We saw this increase in her negatives not just as the e-mail scandal built but also right after her endorsement of the president’s unpopular nuclear deal with Iran.
An interesting result is that women voters are more negative to Hillary Clinton (38 percent favorable to 52 percent unfavorable) than men (45 percent to 49 percent).
‐Finally, we introduced a new bellwether question into this poll for the 2016 election. Since 2009, in order to help the Republicans retake the House majority, we had asked whether they preferred to vote for a member of Congress who would help the president pass his agenda, or one who would be a check and balance on President Obama’s agenda. This message worked very well in helping Republicans to retake the House, retake the Senate, and then expand their House majority to the highest level since the 1920s. However, thanks to the presidential term limit, this argument will no longer apply. Instead we asked, “Generally speaking would you like the next president to continue the policies of President Obama or change direction and move away from the policies of President Obama?” The results were decisive: continue Obama’s policies 34 percent, change direction 57 percent. Republicans want change, 88 percent to 8 percent; Independents want change, 63 percent to 24 percent. Those who are undecided for Congress want change, 61 percent to 15 percent. Among Democrats 64 percent want to continue Obama’s policies, while 25 percent want change.
For now, even though Barack Obama will not be on the ballot, it’s clear he’s driving the 2016 election. The vast majority of American voters say that the country has been on the wrong track for quite a while and they want change for the better.