With two sitting senators atop the field of Democratic presidential candidates, what impact will Democrats' souring views on Congress have on the primary contest?
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll hints that it could change the dynamics of the race. Among Democrats who approve of the way the Democrats are handling their job at the helm in Congress, Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) has a lead of nearly 30-percentage points over Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), and about six in 10 of these partisans say Clinton has the best shot at winning the presidency in November.
But among those Democrats who disapprove of the job their party's congressional respresentatives are doing, Clinton and Obama are tied. Fewer than half of these Democrats say that Clinton is the most electable of the Democratic field, while a third say it's Obama.
These findings parallel Clinton's advantage among who say that in their 2008 calculus strength and experience outweigh new ideas and a new direction.
In April, congressional Democrats enjoyed high levels of support from their party. Seventy-eight percent said they approved of the job Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their colleagues were doing; just 20 percent disapproved.
Three months later, approval among Democrats has dropped to seven in 10, and among independents it has fallen about 15 percentage points. Should disapproving Democrats continue to turn to Obama over Clinton, this growing dissatisfaction could alter the primary campaign.