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May 01, 2013

Democrats in decent shape for '14 elections, new poll finds

Could Democrats break the six-year jinx?

Often the party of the incumbent president in his sixth year suffer losses in the midterm congressional elections. But a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that by a slight margin, voters say they're more likely to vote Democratic next year.

If the elections were held today, Quinnipiac found, 41 percent of voters said they'd pick the Democrat, while 37 percent would choose the Republican.

And, the survey found, "By small margins, voters trust Democrats on Capitol Hill more than Republicans to handle health care, while they prefer the Republicans on the budget deficit and
gun policy, and they see the two about the same on the economy and immigration."

Democrats now control 55 of the Senate's 100 seats. Thirty-five seats are up next year, including 21 now controlled by Democrats and 14 held by Republicans. The eight seats considered most vulnerable by independent anaylsts are held by Democrats.

Republicans control the House of Representatives, but by a 48-43 percent margin, voters said they'd prefer one party to control both Houses.

 “The 1998 elections, during President Bill Clinton’s second term, is the last recent
exception to the rule that the sixth year of a president’s term in office
produces electoral gains for the opposition party,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“The Democratic edge in the so-called congressional ballot is small at this point in the cycle, but there has been a consistent Democratic edge for several months.”

Brown, though, had this warning: "The question, of course, is whether that margin will be there in 18 months when voters go to the polls.

"It is worth noting that in April of 2009, almost exactly four years ago, Democrats held a 41 - 34 percent lead in the generic ballot, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.  That probably was influenced by President Barack Obama's 58 - 30 percent approval rating then.  Eighteen months later, however, Republicans won a historic landslide, picking up 63 House seats.  Nevertheless, being ahead at this point is certainly bringing smiles to Democratic faces given history."

To read more:http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes--centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1890


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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