Poll: Americans Tuning Out Political Class

A new Politico poll finds 57% of likely voters disapprove of Obama's job performance and essentially split on which party they prefer. Respondents were drawn from areas with competitive House and Senate races this November. The poll also shows that voters are tuning out political leaders, establishment and grass roots, in both parties. 

The poll could be the first sign of "political fatigue," after more than a decade of partisan combat. For many Americans, politics is a luxury good. Almost half the likely voters in competitive states, 45%, list the economy as their top concern. No other issue cracks into the double-digits. After years of political action to address economic policy, the economy remains stalled. Combined with an escalation of unrest around the world and at America's southern border, the American public may be overwhelmed. 

By more than a 3-1 margin, 67-22%, voters would restrict US military involvement to direct threats to national security, rather than "protecting democracy" around the world. Voters overwhelmingly want less US involvement in Iraq, Syria and the Ukraine. 

Just under a third, 32%, of likely voters express any enthusiasm for the upcoming midterm elections. 58% of voters are generally ambivalent. Keep in mind, these are voters in areas with competitive races this fall, so they have likely already been subject to political advertising and campaigning. These numbers are among all voters, regardless of political leanings. It is probable that voters who disapprove of Obama are more likely to vote this fall. 

Indeed, in the Politico poll, Republicans edge Democrats by 2 points in the generic ballot, even though Democrats hold a 2-point edge in political identification. Republicans maintain their lead even after party-leaners are included. 

The issue matrix tested in the poll also favors Republicans. The party enjoys a 7-point lead over Democrats on who can best handle foreign policy, a reversal of where things stood at the end of the Bush Administration. Additionally, less than 1-in-5 likely voters (17%) want to keep ObamaCare as is. More than twice as many voters (45%) support an outright repeal. 

The Republican edge, though, seems to be oppositional, i.e. the party is benefiting from not being Barack Obama rather attracting support on its own. "Republicans in Congress" polls substantially worse than "Democrats in Congress." Moreover, many national Republican leaders have the opposite of coattails. An endorsement from one of them would make voters less likely to support their preferred candidate.  

When asked whether an endorsement from a national political figure would affect one's vote, the usual top response is that it would make no difference. For almost every political notable tested, from both parties, an endorsement was a net-negative, with "less likely" to support beating out "no difference" and "more likely" to support. 

Democrats tested were Hillary and Bill Clinton, Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. An endorsement from Barack Obama moved almost half of likely voters (45%) away from the hypothetical candidate. Hillary Clinton's reverse-Midas touch was only slightly more lethal, with 41% of likely voters saying they would be less likely to support a candidate endorsement by her. 

Republican leaders fared little better. Notable Republicans tested included Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney. Voters were "less likely" to support a candidate endorsed by any of these politicians. In fact, "less likely" to support beat out or tied "no difference" for all of them. 

The Republican party will likely make significant gains in November, if for no other reason than Obama's continued unpopularity. Americans, however, aren't embracing the GOP. They are increasingly tuning out both parties.


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