U.S. voters would prefer a White House and Congress controlled by one political party, according to a poll out today that also gives the Democrats a slight edge in next year’s congressional elections.
The survey by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University showed 48 percent of voters saying they want the same party in charge of both the executive and legislative branches, while 43 percent said they wanted political power divided. The Democrats currently control the White House and the Senate while the Republicans hold a majority in the House.
Voters who said they were independents favored divided government, 53 percent to 35 percent.
By a 41 percent to 37 percent margin, voters said they would support a Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican nominee. Democrats would need a net pickup of 17 seats to win back the House.
“The question, of course, is whether that margin will be there in 18 months when voters to go to the polls,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute.
Under the last four presidents to serve two four-year terms, the party that didn’t control the White House gained congressional seats during three of the four off-year elections following the chief executive’s re-election, the exception being the Democratic gains in 1998 under Bill Clinton.
In the latest poll, Democrats were helped by the same edge among women that propelled President Barack Obama to a second term. Women voters said they would vote for a Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican, 44 percent to 35 percent. Men would vote Republican, 39 percent to 38 percent.
House Republicans in March approved a budget plan that would cut food stamps and college aid and replace traditional Medicare with vouchers to buy either private insurance or a government plan with a cap on expenditures. A Senate Democratic plan would raise taxes on wealthy Americans instead.
Along with their polling edge, Democrats have been able to open up an early fundraising advantage. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which aids the party’s House candidates, brought in $22.6 million from Jan. 1 to March 31, while its counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, raised $17.5 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. The DCCC entered April with $8.9 million to spend; the Republicans had $8.1 million.
As the automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration sink in, voters disapproved of congressional Republicans, 67 percent to 24 percent, as well as congressional Democrats, 60 percent to 31 percent.
Voters “are down on both groups, just Democrats a bit less,” Brown said.
Obama, meanwhile, had a 48 percent job-approval rating, compared with 45 percent who disapproved. Even so, voters disagreed with the way he was handling the economy, 53 percent to 41 percent; and gun policy following the killings of 20 elementary school students in Newtown, Connecticut, 52 percent to 41 percent.
In the survey, which was conducted after the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, voters said they approved of the president’s handling of terrorism 55 percent to 38 percent.
The poll of 1,471 registered voters, taken April 25-29, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
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