By Dan Hirschhorn
May 5, 2014

Democrats hoping to hold the Senate and make gains in the House during this year’s midterm elections are going up against the worst political landscape they’ve faced in at least 20 years, according to a new poll.

The Pew Research Center/USA Today survey released Monday found that 47% of registered voters either support the Republican candidate in their district or lean in that direction, while 43% favor or lean Democratic. That’s the lowest level of support Democrats have had around this point in the midterm election cycles since 1994, the year Republicans retook the House for the first time in four decades. And it’s even worse for Democrats than it was before the beating they took in the 2010 midterm elections.

Democrats are clinging to an endangered, slender majority in the Senate, and while the party has written off any chance of recapturing the House this year, many Democrats are hoping the party at least picks up enough seats to make a takeover more likely in 2016. But recent polls have brought troubling signs for the party, which is weighed down by President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings and disaffection over the health care reform law.

A majority said Obama wouldn’t be a factor in their vote this fall, but 26% said their vote would be a gesture against the president, and just 16% said theirs would be a vote for him, according to the poll. And economic pessimism remains a factor: 65% say it’s hard to find jobs in their community.

The survey of 1,501 adults, including 1,162 registered voters, was conducted April 23-27 and had a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points for registered voters.


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