[A] warning for Democrats is that their improved prospects for November appear driven primarily by dissatisfaction with Republicans rather than by positive impressions of their own party. Congressional Democrats are rating only slightly more favorably than congressional Republicans, and 52 percent of those surveyed said the Democrats have not offered a sharp contrast to Bush and the Republicans.
Only a third want the GOP to remain in the majority in Congress. Nearly three times as many Americans say they will use the elections to express opposition to the president (30 percent) than to show support for him (12 percent).
Nearly nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents do not like the job Bush is doing as president.
The clearest sign of how Iraq dominates the public mood came in answer to another question, which asked those who disapprove of Bush's performance to cite a reason. Nearly half, 46 percent, said Iraq, easily the most frequently mentioned reason. In equal proportions, Republicans as well as Democrats who disapprove of Bush cite his performance in Iraq as the principal reason.
Bush's fading popularity is matched by waning popular support for the Republican-held Congress. A third of the country approves of the job Congress is doing -- identical to the president's poor job performance rating -- and a 10-year low. Even Republicans are divided over the performance of the Republican-controlled Congress: 49 percent approved while 47 disapproved, a view shared by seven in 10 Democrats and political independents.
Democrats hold an advantage of 52 percent to 40 percent when voters are asked whether they plan to vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate in their House district, a margin that didn't narrow when the preferences of only those most likely to cast ballots were analyzed. That 12-point Democratic margin is slightly smaller than in several previous polls.
The survey also found Democrats also had double-digit lead over Republicans on nine of the 10 issues when respondents were asked which party they favored to deal with the problem and a smaller lead on the 10th.
By 2 to 1 or better, the public preferred Democrats to handle gas prices and health care. And by double-digit margins, they preferred Democrats to deal with education (23 percentage points), the budget (20 points), the economy (18 points) and protecting privacy (15 points). Democrats also had a 14-point edge on handling Iraq, immigration and taxes.
Only on terrorism did Republicans come close -- though, by 46 to 41 percent, the public still preferred the Democrats.
The economy, followed by Iraq and immigration, lead a long and wide-ranging list of issues that voters say are most important to them at the ballot box this year. Among those who say the economy is their top issue -- about 17 percent of the public -- 56 percent say they will vote for the Democratic candidate in House races. Eleven percent named Iraq as their priority, and 79 percent of these plan to vote Democratic.
The survey also adds that if Democrats succeed in making the election a referendum on Bush, they will win big. If they don't succeed in making it a referendum, they won't.
The public WANTS THE DEMOCRATS TO OFFER A CLEAR CONTRAST TO BUSH. They want us to OPPOSE HIM. They are ready to vote for us if we do.
It's being handed to us on a plate. Let's take it. Remember the key points:
- Give money to the Democrats. Hit the Republicans where it hurts.
- Volunteer your time for your local Democratic candidates.
- Don't let the Republicans suppress or steal the votes; get rid of Diebold in as many places as you can.
- Register new Democrats to vote, ESPECIALLY SINGLE WOMEN, whose reproductive rights are being extinguished by the radical Right.
- Get the vote out on Tuesday, 7 November--including yours.