The new Washington Post/ABC News poll will generate a lot of chatter today because it finds Obama’s approval at 41 percent. Disapproval of his handling on the health law is high. The generic ballot matchup, which is effectively tied, spreads to a GOP lead of 53-39 when people are asked to choose between a GOP check on Obama’s agenda and a Dem Congress that facilitates it. Obama is unpopular, and that’s probably a big drag on Dems.

But perhaps the worst news for Dems in the poll is this: GOP-leaning voter groups say they will definitely vote this fall in significantly greater numbers than Dem-leaning groups do.

Crucially, that disparity is in spite of the fact that Dems hold significantly leads on many major issues. And that’s perhaps the main Dem problem in a nutshell: Even if their issue stances are more popular, it may not do anything to get their core groups out to vote in great enough numbers, meaning an electorate that heavily favors Republicans. The poll finds:

— 78 percent of Republicans say they are absolutely certain to vote, versus 72 percent of Democrats.

— 84 percent of conservative Republicans are absolutely certain to vote, versus 77 percent of liberal Democrats.

— 73 percent of conservatives are absolutely certain to vote, versus 64 percent of liberals.

— 73 percent of whites are absolutely certain to vote, versus 55 percent of non-whites.

— 72 percent of men are absolutely certain to vote, versus 65 percent of women (one imagines that number drops further for unmarried women).

— Only 53 percent of voters 18-39 are absolutely certain to vote. Meanwhile, that’s true of 73 percent of voters from 40-65, and 79 percent of voters over 65.

In short, this is more evidence the electorate is likely to tilt older, whiter, redder, and more male. Yet at the same time, Dems are more trusted than Republicans to handle the nation’s main problems (40-34), more trusted to help the middle class (52-32), more trusted on the minimum wage (49-33); and more trusted on health care (43-35). Meanwhile, women trust Dems over Republicans on their issues by 54-27. (Republicans win on guns and the deficit.)

All of this underscores what Ed Kilgore and Sasha Issenberg have been arguing: That if Dems are going to have any chance of offsetting the “midterm dropoff” among their core voters, issues alone aren’t going to do it. The sheer grunt work of contacting voters again and again and urging them out to the polls is what it will take, and it won’t be easy. The one bit of good news is that Democrats are aware of this and are planning accordingly.


* GOP STANCE ON OBAMACARE IS VERY UNPOPULAR: The new Kaiser Family Foundation poll is also out today, and it finds that only 35 percent favor repealing and replacing Obamacare, while 58 percent want to work to improve the law. Meanwhile, the approval/disapproval numbers remain largely unchanged at 38-46.

Repeal remains unpopular even though majorities don’t think enrollment met expectations and don’t think the law is working as planned. As always, what this suggests is that even if the law remains unpopular, Americans know Obamacare is the set of solutions we’re getting and that there is no GOP alternative, and want to give it a chance to work. Of course, few if any commentators will even register the low repeal number today.

* STANCE ON OBAMACARE DICTATED BY PARTY: David Lauter ferrets out a fascinating nugget from the new Kaiser poll:

The most reliable predictor of whether a person thought the law was working was not whether he or she could correctly identify the number of enrollments, but partisanship.

Almost 80% of Republicans said they believed “it’s clear the law is not working as planned.” By contrast, just more than 60% of Democrats took the opposing position, that “there were some early problems that have been fixed, and now the law is basically working as intended.”

Kind of says it all…

* LATEST ON NORTH CAROLINA SENATE RACE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going up with a new ad buy in support of Thom Tillis, the GOP establishment favorite in the North Carolina primary, that proclaims he is a “bold conservative” without naming his rivals. Republicans really want to avoid a primary runoff, which could draw in outside groups from the right, like the Club for Growth, leading to an establishment/conservative bloodbath and push the selection of a nominee into July.

* BUT TILLIS MAY AVOID RUNOFF: Reid Wilson reports on a key finding from a new Civitas poll out of North Carolina. The poll:

shows House Speaker Thom Tillis leading among registered Republicans with 38 percent, compared with 17 percent for physician Greg Brannon (R) and 14 percent for pastor Mark Harris (R). Among all likely voters, a generic Democrat running for Senate beat a generic Republican by a 43 percent to 38 percent margin.

If Tillis can clear 40 percent, that will be a big break for Republicans.

* MORE ON DEMS’ “MIDTERM DROPOFF” PROBLEM: Related to my lead item on today’s Post polling: The Post’s Scott Clement has some nifty charts that illustrate the problem very well, with this added nugget:

Beyond core partisans, independents who tilt Democratic are strikingly less motivated. Nearly three quarters of independents who lean Republican are “certain” voters (74 percent), compared with just 50 percent of Democrats.

Still more evidence that issues alone won’t be enough to offset the problem.

* DOES HOUSE GOP FEEL PRESSURE ON IMMIGRATION? Dana Milbank makes a key point here, tying the signs of movement among Republicans on immigration to the prospect that Obama just might act alone:

With luck, the threat of unilateral action by Obama could pressure House Republicans to do something about immigration. In recent days, House Speaker John Boehner mocked his colleagues for their resistance to passing an immigration bill, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the No. 4 House Republican, told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane that she sees a “path” to having immigration on the House floor by August. That would be when Republicans are no longer threatened by tea party primary challenges.

The question is whether House Republicans view the prospect of Obama acting as a deadline for them. If he does act, it probably means their last chance to put their stamp on reform — and begin to get right with Latinos – before the 2016 presidential election is gone for good.

* SCHUMER CONFIDENT GOP  WILL CAVE ON IMMIGRATION: Some strong, if optimistic, quotes from Senator Chuck Schumer:

“We will have an immigration bill — it may not be exactly the Senate bill — on the floor of the House … We will come to an agreement. They will put that bill on the President’s desk for President Obama to sign into law,” Schumer said.  “The Republican Party knows if it continues to be seen as anti-immigrant, they’re going to lose election after election … Their leadership knows it, and they’re trying to convince the rank and file.”

My sense, too, is that John Boehner is still hoping to convince Republicans to accept reform — hence his criticism of them the other day — but can we please remember that as House Speaker, the question of whether Republicans tackle this challenge is, you know, on him?