There are some very worrying signs for Congressional Democrats and President Obama in the latest poll of likely voters (PDF) by Lake Research/Tarrance Group for Politico/George Washington University. The poll found Democrats trailing in the generic ballot by four points, Republicans 47 percent, Democrats 43 percent. Equally disturbing for Congressional Democrats is that they seem to have completely lost any advantage they once had on the top issue for voters, jobs and the economy.
Voters are effectively split dead even on which party in Congress would be better able to create jobs. Among likely voters, 44 percent think Congressional Republicans would do a better job, while 45 percent think Congressional Democrats would. Trailing in the generic ballot and dead even when it comes to the dominant issue with voters is a recipe for serious Democratic losses this November.
What is interesting is that on the top issue of job creation, Obama is performing much worse than Congressional Democrats and Republicans. Compared to Congressional Republicans, only 40 percent think President Obama will better handle the issue of creating jobs, while 51 percent think the Republicans in Congress would do better.
This should worry the White House. Congress in general and Congressional Republicans specifically are deeply unpopular. The poll found 59 percent of likely voters strongly disapproved of the job Congress has been doing this year. Yet, voters still think the Congressional GOP is better able to handle the employment issue right now.
Perhaps even more worrying, Obama’s numbers compared to Congressional Democrats. There is a significant set of voters that trust the Democratic Party in general to handle the economy, but think Obama is less capable than the party—a very bad place to be as the de facto leader of a party.
Of course, if employment improves significantly in the next year, Obama’s numbers are likely to improve, as well. But if economic growth continues to be sluggish, the fact that Obama is already seen as less able to grapple with the situation than Congressional Republicans or even the Democratic Party speaks to a potentially serious vulnerability in 2012.