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In the midterms, it’s (still) the economy, stupid


File: Job seekers line up outside at Choice Career Fairs' New York career fair at the Holiday Inn Midtown in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

The economy is the top issue driving those likeliest to vote to cast ballots this fall, according to a new survey released Wednesday that tested a handful of matters to see how voters would respond. That's good news for Republicans, who voters rate more strongly than Democrats on the issue.

In the George Washington University Battleground Poll, 24 percent of likely voters say the economy is the top issue for them. The economy outpaces behavior of your member of Congress (15 percent); Obamacare (13 percent); feelings about President Obama (10 percent); Social Security and Medicare (10 percent); and women's issues (5 percent).

Likely voters feel Republicans could do a better job addressing economic concerns than Democrats, by 49-42 percent. Obama's approval rating on the economy is under water, with 54 percent disapproving of his performance and 44 percent approving.

There is a caveat: The poll asked a closed-choice question that did not include immigration and foreign affairs, two issues that are at the forefront of the national political debate.

More good news for Republicans in the poll: They hold a four-point lead on the generic ballot question -- that is, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate for Congress? In states with a competitive Senate race, Republicans lead 52 to 36 percent on the generic ballot question. 

The poll is not all bad for Democrats. They hold clear advantages over Republicans on who would do a better job standing up for the middle class (52-37) and representing middle class values (51-39).

But on the whole, Republicans should be happy with the findings. Even if Obama and the heath-care law are not the top issues for voters this fall, Republicans still appear to have the upper hand. With the Senate majority up for grabs and the House safely under GOP control, that's a very good position for the party to be in less than nine weeks from Election Day.

The GWU poll of 1,000 likely voters was conduced by a bipartisan team of pollsters from Aug. 24-28. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

This post has been updated 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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