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New Heartland poll emphasizes Democrat woes

President Obama gives a speech.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla

Another day, another poll, another ominous sign for the Democratic Party. The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll out Monday shows Pres. Barack Obama’s overall approval rating at 41%.

The poll showing the president's anemic approval rating also shows just one in four adults believe the administration's policies are increasing economic opportunity for people like them. Mr. Obama is weakest in the South where seven Senate Democrat incumbents are in trouble or considered tossups in midterm elections races.

On the other hand, Republicans, who are defending far fewer seats than Democrats, only need to win six seats to take back control of the U.S. Senate in November. Adding to Democrats midterm woes, industry analysts say insurance premiums are likely to increase significantly for 2015, hitting taxpayers and voters in the pocketbook during an especially slow economic recovery. Meanwhile, the price of gas at the pump in California is above $4 per gallon, food costs have accelerated as of late and inflation is creeping upward.

The poll’s results are from the 20th quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll conducted by the Strategic Communications Practice of FTI Consulting. The extensive poll in its entirety, which explored Americans' views on how to drive social and political change, will be published next month in National Journal's magazine.

While some Democrats may take comfort in knowing that Congress received a meager 11% approval rating in the poll, Democrats have controlled the Senate throughout Mr. Obama’s tenure and congressional ratings don’t usually influence constituents and districts as much as presidential polls and policies.

The heartland poll showed 52% of Americans disapprove of Mr. Obama’s overall performance as president, with 39% strongly disapproving of his performance. The “strongly disapprove” number garnered by Mr. Obama nearly doubles the 21% who strongly approve.

Under Democratic Sen. leader Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate did not bother to produce a national budget for five years, which some say contributes to the especially poor ratings of Congress.

However, Democrats point to budget reductions favored by Republicans to control a $16 trillion runaway deficit as being too stringent.

Foreign policy, forecast to be one of the president’s strong points, is instead working against the administration with the Middle East peace negotiations completely stalled, Russia threatening war and U.S. efforts in Afghanistan overshadowed by a Taliban resurgence.

The American people, according to polls, largely perceive U.S. foreign policy under the administration as chaotic and reactionary, which is one reason Democrats are especially nervous about the situation in Ukraine.

In addition, analysts say Obamacare, the administration’s most identifiable legislative accomplishment, is not helping Senate Democrats in close races. The expansive government program was pushed through by Democrats in a bitterly, partisan 2010 Congress without a single Republican vote from the House or Senate.

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