Media Contacts

Office of Media Relations
2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20006

Phone: 202-994-6460
Fax: 202-994-9025
E-mail: [email protected]


Economy Will Drive Midterm Elections, GW Battleground Poll Shows

Voters Remain Unhappy with President and Congress

September 03, 2014
Jason Shevrin: 202-994-5631, [email protected]
Emily Grebenstein: 202-994-3087, [email protected]
WASHINGTON—An overwhelming majority of American voters feels that the nation is on the wrong track and the economy will be a key factor in November’s elections, according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll.
Seventy percent of likely voters nationwide feel that the nation is on the wrong track. Just 21 percent say that the nation is headed in the right direction.
“Though the American public is as divided as it has been all year, as we head into the 2014 general elections the advantage among likely voters is flowing toward Republicans,” said Christopher Arterton, poll director and GW professor of political management. “Despite the public's antipathy toward Congress, particularly toward the Republican leadership in the House, President Obama has become a lightening rod for discontent on a number of fronts. Strong majorities disapprove of the job he’s doing on the federal budget and spending (61 percent), in foreign policy (58 percent), on working with Congress (57 percent) and on immigration (57 percent).”
The poll, conducted in partnership with The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, found that the economy weighs more heavily on the minds of American voters than gridlock in Washington. Twenty-four percent of likely voters say the economy is most likely to drive their pick for Congress, outscoring feelings about their member of Congress, President Obama, or the president’s Affordable Care Act. 
When weighing party choices on economic issues, the Republican Party holds a 7-point advantage with 49 percent of voters expressing more confidence in its ability to find solutions. The GOP also holds an edge on a generic congressional ballot, 46 to 42 percent. 
“Republicans hold a 4-point advantage on the generic congressional ballot. In states with a competitive Senate race, Republicans hold a 16-point advantage (52 to 36 percent) on this generic ballot,” said Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group. “Republicans are getting stronger support on the generic ballot from ‘hard’ Republicans (93 percent) than Democrats are getting from ‘hard’ Democrats (89 percent) and ‘soft’ Republicans are voting a net 16 points stronger for the generic Republican on the ballot than ‘soft’ Democrats are voting for the generic Democrat. All of these measures exceed where the GOP was at this point in the 2010 cycle. By any measure, Republicans are fired up and ready to deliver victories to their candidates in November, with of the strong backing of independent (by15 points) and middle-class voters (by 11 points).” 
The GW Battleground Poll found Democrats do have advantages in other areas of public concern. Voters prefer Democrats to stand up for the middle class (52 percent) and represent middle class values (51 percent).
“While Republicans regained a narrow lead in the generic congressional trial heat, Democrats enjoy advantages among a number of electoral constituencies that are on the rise (e.g., women, younger voters and voters of color), as well as important leads on issues and dimensions of leadership central to the economic debate, including standing up for the middle class,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Given voters’ continuing focus on the economy, the component pieces for Democratic wins in November lie at the ready; Democrats must first demonstrate to the electorate in vivid terms, bold policy initiatives and incisive contrasts with Republicans that they are prepared to act decisively to rebuild the middle class and the economy along with it.”
Regardless of the November election results, the American electorate does not hold any politician in Washington in very high standing, according to the poll. President Obama’s job disapproval rating is 51 percent, while Congress has a 79 percent disapproval rating. A growing majority of voters (58 percent) now disapprove of the president’s handling of immigration issues. Half of voters approve of his efforts to stand up for the middle class.  
More than two-thirds of voters say their personal economic situation stagnated (35 percent) or worsened (36 percent) over the last four years. Of those whose situation got worse, 34 percent said that having the money to pay bills and the rising cost of daily goods is the issue that worries them the most. Just 3 percent say the cost of college or other higher education is the most concerning. For those who feel their finances stayed the same, the money to pay bills is also the top concern (39 percent). Among this group, 12 percent say the cost of higher education is most concerning. An improving national economy was the key reason why 29 percent of those surveyed said their personal situation has improved. 
More Information
For complete results, including additional numbers on the economy and President Obama, visit:
About the George Washington University Battleground Poll
The George Washington University Battleground Poll is a nationally recognized series of surveys conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners. The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) serve as the university’s home for the partnership. GW’s Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library houses the data archive of the survey results dating back more than two decades.
The poll, which is distinguished from other surveys by its presentation of separate analyses from these top pollsters representing both sides of the aisle, surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide Aug. 24 through Aug. 28, and included a protocol for reaching mobile phone users. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Interview Opportunities
Christopher Arterton, founding dean of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management (contact Jason Shevrin at 202-994-5631)
Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners (contact Anderson Gardner at 202-776-9066)
Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group (contact Brian Nienaber at 703-684-6688)
The George Washington University
In the heart of the nation’s capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.