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Voters Concerned About Income Inequality, Want New Voices in Washington, GW Battleground Poll Shows

January 22, 2014

Media Contacts: John Brandt
202-994-3199[email protected]
Angela Olson
202-538-7918[email protected]


WASHINGTON – The American public remains divided on a host of issues with a pessimistic attitude towards leaders’ ability to address the nation’s problems, according to a new George Washington University Battleground Poll.

More than 55 percent of respondents strongly believe that the nation is on the wrong track, and 54 percent believe that leaders in Washington are just as incapable of working together to solve the nation’s problems as they were last year. Among likely voters, 54 percent say that it’s time to give a new lawmaker a chance in the Capitol; 29 percent believe their member of Congress deserves reelection.

2013 certainly took a toll on the public's view of Washington,” said George Washington University Professor Chris Arterton. “Performance ratings are down across the board and a general sense of discouragement has set in.  The public is clearly focused on jobs and the economy and doesn't feel that the politicians are addressing their issues.”

Americans are seemingly united in the belief that income inequality poses a problem to the nation. The gap between the richest and the poorest is a “big problem,” according to 49 percent of likely voters; another 30 percent say that it is “somewhat of a problem.” Americans are almost evenly divided on a solution: 43 percent say that the best way for everyone to move up economically is to reduce the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country, while 45 percent say that cutting taxes and removing unnecessary regulations is the better route.

"Democrats have the chance to drive a powerful contrast now and in the coming months," said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. "Candidates must promote a vision that centers on economic fairness, jobs and opportunity for America's hardworking middle class while also aggressively defining republicans in Congress for their reckless disregard for those same middle class families- and our economy."

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is still underwater: 54 percent disapprove of his work and 41 percent approve. The president’s personal approval, meanwhile, has recovered from December’s poll, and he now has a personal approval of 61 percent, up from 48 percent last year.

When it comes to his second State of the Union address since reelection, 56 percent of Americans want to hear a speech that lays out detailed policy proposals rather than an inspirational speech that seeks to bring the nation together, the poll shows. Voters think that it is “extremely important” for the president to talk about what he plans to do about jobs (42 percent), the economy (40 percent) and the federal deficit (38 percent). Just 20 percent think it is extremely important for the president to voice his thoughts on immigration, a key second-term priority for the administration.

Obamacare, the president’s signature accomplishment from his first term, continues to receive low marks: 56 percent oppose the law, while 40 percent favor it. Support for the law has decreased slightly since December.

"Based on the fact that a majority of voters disapprove of the president's overall job performance and on all six of the specific job performance meaurement's tested, it is clear the American electorate is growing weary of a president who is very good at hiding behind his intentions, while demonizing the intentions of his oppents, only to show little if any imporvements in the daily lives of those he claims to be fighting for," said Ed Goeas, president/CEO of The Tarrance Group.

For complete results, including questions on the recently passed budget deal, the 2014 elections and the state of the economy, 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 Global Media Institute, affiliated with the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), serves as the university’s home for the partnership.

George Washington’s 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 1,011 registered likely voters nationwide Jan. 12 through Jan. 16, and included a protocol for reaching mobile phone users. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

Interview Opportunities

Christopher Arterton, founding dean of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management; Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners; and Ed Goeas, president/CEO of The Tarrance Group; are all available for comment.

For Dr. Arterton, contact John Brandt at 202-994-3199. For Ms. Lake, contact Anderson Gardner at Lake Research Partners, 202-776-9066. For Mr. Goeas, contact Brian Nienaber at The Tarrance Group, 703-684-6688.