Nightmare in November for Dems?

| Thu May 13, 2010 10:50 AM EDT

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll contains disquieting information for congressional Democrats and Republicans--but it's far more worrisome in the short-run for the Ds. NBC News' "First Read" newsletter offers a summation:

*** The GOP’s Good News, Bad News: The poll is mostly good news for the Republican Party -- at least as it relates to the upcoming midterms. It shows that the GOP is now winning key demographic groups (blue-collar voters, independents, white women, suburban women, and seniors) that it was losing in 2006. Also, the number believing that the nation is on the wrong track (56%) looks a lot more like 1994 (when the party in power lost control of Congress) than it does 1998 or 2002 (when the president’s party fared historically well in the midterms). But in the long term, there are dangerous signs for the GOP. First, the party continues to have a net-negative fav/unfav (which wasn't the case in '94). And second, it has a MAJOR problem with the country's fastest growing demographic group: Latinos. In the poll, Democrats have a 37-point advantage among Latinos when it comes to which party does a better job of protecting minorities, a 42-point edge in protecting immigrants against discrimination, and a 28-point advantage on the issue of immigration.

If the Democrats are losing blue-collar voters, as the Republicans have opposed or sought to weaken Wall Street reform (while calling for extending tax breaks for the wealthy), the Dems do have a mighty big problem. And though most economists say that the stimulus bill they passed prevented the loss of 2 million or so jobs, the Ds and Obama have received little credit for this. They have truly lost the message war.

The picture is far worse for the Democrats than Obama. Look at this:

*** Obama vs. The Dem Party: Here’s another striking finding from our NBC/WSJ poll: Obama and congressional Democrats have two completely different brands right now. For instance, by a 51%-36% margin, the public thinks that Obama is more concerned about the interests of average Americans than of large corporations when it comes to dealing with financial markets. But congressional Dems’ score here is essentially reversed -- 53% think they’re more concerned about protecting the interests of large corporations, while just 35% believe they’re looking out for average Americans. (Congressional Republicans’ score is even worse: 71% for corporations, 20% for average Americans.) Here’s something else: Obama is more helpful in rallying the GOP base (64% of Republican voters say they’re voting GOP to OPPOSE Obama and Dem candidates) than he is his own base (49% of Dem voters say they’re voting to SUPPORT Obama and Dem candidates). Translation: Obama’s presence on the campaign trail might solidify the GOP base without guaranteeing the same lift to Democrats.

Democratic strategists have been hoping that for the 2010 congressional elections the party can beat back an anti-incumbent wave by arguing that the Dems care about average folks and the GOPers do the dirty work of corporations. While most voters, according to this poll, do see the Republicans as bigger pimps for corporations than Democrats, these numbers suggest it still will be a hard sell convincing voters that the Democrats fight for average Americans instead of corporate interests. And if Obama can't help the Democrats, who can?

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