TIME 2014 Election

More Bad News for Democrats in 2014 Battleground States

A new survey of likely voters in 12 key Senate races shows the electorate continues to skew Republican

A new survey has more bad news for Democrats running in key battleground states this November.

The poll by Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps, Republican and Democratic research firms, respectively, found that President Barack Obama’s approval rating in 12 states with the most competitive Senate races is only 38%—3 points lower than his national approval number.

Recent headlines surrounding the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Veterans Affairs and IRS scandals, and the initially botched rollout of the health care reform law haven’t helped: 57% of voters consider them to be “real problems that raise serious doubts about the competence of the Obama Administration.”

“That is a problem for the Obama Administration,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who worked on the survey, told reporters Thursday. “But it is a problem for the Democrats running for reelection in these battleground states because the reputation of the President always overshadows midterm elections.”

While the slew of scandals may not drive voters to the poll, Ayres said, the results make it difficult for incumbent Democrats to stand with the President on key issue.

And Republicans have the upper hand when it comes to party trust on key issues, according to the survey: 50% of all voters favor Republicans’ handling of foreign policy, 16 percentage points higher than their trust in Democrats. The split is less dramatic on the economy, with 47% of voters trusting Republicans, compared to 37% trusting Democrats. Among independents, who often cast the key swing votes in close races, 48% say they trust Republicans handling of the economy while only 28% trust Democrats.

Even on health care, Republicans are favored, albeit slightly: 45% of all voters trust Republicans to handle health care and 41% of voters trust Democrats.

The problem for Democrats is more their weakness than Republicans’ strength.

“There is enormous frustration… for Congress in general,” Ayres said. “But the Republican leaders in the House are not on the ballot in these… battleground states.

“The playing field,” Ayres added, “looks more promising for Republicans than any time in recent memory.”

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