One of the principal reasons for the GOP's relatively poor showing to date in the race for Congress is its failure to gain the advantage on key voter issues, including an issue on which Republicans have traditionally held an edge over their Democratic rivals - that of reducing federal spending.

The latest Gallup Poll report on the race for Congress shows that if elections for the House of Representatives were being held now, the political composition of the House would remain pretty much as it is today - more than 2-to-1 Democratic.

The proportion of voters who currently credit the Republican Party as better able to reduce federal spending (26 percent) is matched by the proportion who say the Democrats, would perform better in this respect (28 percent). The balance either say they see no difference in the ability of the two parties to deal with this problem (31 percent) or do not express an opinion (15 percent).

Transcending the immediate concern with federal spending are the timeless issues of peace and prosperity. And on this score there is more bad news for the GOP.

A Gallup Poll taken earlier this year showed the Democratic Party holding a 31-to-25 percent lead as the party voters see better able to keep the nation out of World War III and an even wider 41-to-23 percent lead as the "party of prosperity."

Following is the question on federal spending:

"Which political party - the Republican Party or the Democratic Party - can do a better job of reducing federal spending?"

Democratic 28%

Republican 26

No difference 31

No opinion 15

"Which political party do you think would be more likely to keep the United States out of World War III - the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?"

Democratic 31%

Republican 25

No difference 27

No opinion 17

"Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party the Republican or the Democratic - do you think will do the better job of keeping the country prosperous?"

Democratic 41%

Republican 23

No difference 23

No opinion 13

The results on federal spending are based on in-person interviews with 1,505 adults, 18 and older, in more than 300 scientifically selected localities across the nation during the period June 16-19. Results concerning peace and prosperity are based on personal interviews with 1,560 adults during the period of March 3-6.