The latest Associated Press-GfK poll holds bad news for President Barack Obama, but as the November elections draw closer, there are ominous signs for congressional Democrats as well.
A look at the key findings from the March poll on this year’s election and the burgeoning 2016 presidential field.
GOP Gaining Ground
Preferences for control of Congress are tight, but Republicans have gained on Democrats since January. Thirty-six percent in last month’s poll said they would rather see the Democrats in charge of Congress and 37 percent chose Republicans.
Democrats held a narrow advantage on that question in January, when 39 percent favored the Democrats and 32 percent the Republicans.
Democrats are in the majority in the Senate while Republicans run the House.
The shift stems largely from a change among those most interested in politics.
In the new poll, registered voters who are most strongly interested in politics favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points, 51 percent to 37 percent. In January, this group was about evenly split, with 42 percent preferring Democrats and 45 percent the Republicans.
That’s not the only positive sign in the poll for the Republicans.
Favorable views of the GOP have improved, with 38 percent overall now saying they hold a favorable impression of the Party. Republicans’ positive view of their own party has increased from 57 percent in January to 72 percent now.
Even impressions of the tea party movement have shifted more positive in recent months. GOP favorability still lags behind that of the Democrats, however, with 43 percent holding a favorable view of the Democratic Party.
Congressional approval is stagnant and negative, with just 16 percent saying they approve while 82 percent disapprove. Among those who have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of interest in politics, 90 percent disapprove, including 61 percent who strongly disapprove.
Nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) would like to see their own member of Congress re-elected, an improvement since January. Among registered voters who say they pay a great deal of attention to politics, 44 percent say they would like to see their current member re-elected, compared with 33 percent in January.
Here, there’s a glimmer of hope for Democrats. Those who consider themselves Democrats are now more likely than Republicans to say their own member of Congress ought to be re-elected. Not all Democrats live in districts represented by Democrats, of course, but it represents a shift in opinion since January.