NPR logo Voters Seem Intent On Punishing Democrats: Poll

Election 2010

Voters Seem Intent On Punishing Democrats: Poll

A banner opposing the re-election of Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, flown by plane on Sept. 6, 2010 over the Blueberry Festival Parade in Plymouth, Ind. Joe Raymond/AP Photo hide caption

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Joe Raymond/AP Photo

Listen carefully to Democrats and you'll hear them repeatedly state their hope that voters in November will view the coming mid-term election as a choice, not a referendum.

A choice would mean voters could say, 'Yes, Democrats are bad but Republicans are worse' and allow Democrats to keep power.

A referendum lacks that contrast. It's a Roman Forum style show of thumbs on the party in control and, obviously, that wouldn't go well for Democrats this year.

But polls continue to suggest that Democrats won't get their wish, that voters see the coming election as a referendum.

The latest is an AP-GfK poll that found, like other polls, that while voters have a low opinion of both parties, there's only one currently in power they can throw out of power.

An excerpt of an AP story reporting on the poll:

In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 60 percent disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing; yet 68 percent frown on how Republicans are performing. While 59 percent are unhappy with how Democrats are handling the economy, 64 percent are upset by the GOP's work on the country's top issue. Just over half have unfavorable views of each party.

Most say President Obama isn't cooperating enough on the economy; yet even more accuse Republicans of the same thing. Former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the only two Republicans the AP-GfK Poll tested — are both viewed negatively by more than half in the survey, worse than Obama's marks. And people overwhelmingly fault Bush more than Obama for the recession.

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The problem for Democrats is that voters have already punished Republicans for Bush's perceived failings on economic policy. And, of course, they can't punish Bush again.

And just because they blame Bush more for the recession doesn't mean they can't be angry at Obama and congressional Democrats for not fixing it.