The Campaign Spot

Latest AP National Poll Is a Nightmare for Democrats

This new poll from the Associated Press is about as dire a poll as Democrats could imagine two weeks before Election Day.

Democrats are more trusted than the GOP on just two of nine top issues, the poll showed. 

The economy remains the top issue for likely voters — 91 percent call it “extremely” or “very” important. And the GOP has increased its advantage as the party more trusted to handle the issue to a margin of 39 percent to 31 percent.

With control of the Senate at stake, both parties say they are relying on robust voter-turnout operations — and monster campaign spending — to lift their candidates in the final days. But the poll suggests any appeals they’ve made so far haven’t done much to boost turnout among those already registered. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Now brace yourself:

The GOP holds a significant lead among those most likely to cast ballots: 47 percent of these voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress, 39 percent a Democratic one. That’s a shift in the GOP’s favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters.

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

The gender gap disappearing almost entirely would be a shocking development; at this point, it’s just one poll, but it’s something to look for in future polls. Democrats can console themselves that this is a national poll, and the biggest fights of the midterm — the Senate races — are occurring in about a dozen states. Having said that, almost all of those states are Republican-leaning ones that Romney won. If the national electorate is sour on Democrats, it’s extremely difficult to envision a scenario where Arkansas’s Mark Pryor hangs on despite the pro-GOP atmosphere, and Alaska’s Mark Begich, and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, and so on for the other endangered red-state Democratic senators. One or two might survive, but the rest . . . 

The polls are grim, Mr. President.

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