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Sour on economy, more Americans back Republicans: poll

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 23:53

[WASHINGTON] Seven in 10 Americans rate the economy poorly and nearly as many distrust government, giving Republicans the upper hand in the final week before midterm elections, a poll showed on Tuesday.

An overwhelming majority of respondents in an ABC News-Washington Post poll see the country as severely off track.

Disapproval of President Barack Obama remains high, at 56 percent among likely voters, and people blame Democrats over Republicans for the country's troubles by a margin of three to one.

Three in 10 poll respondents said they will vote in next Tuesday's midterms to punish the president, more than twice the percentage of people who said they will vote to show support for Mr Obama.

Despite shrinking unemployment and signs of US growth, some 70 per cent of Americans rate the economy negatively, and six in 10 have little or no trust in the government to respond to crises.

With Ebola arriving in the United States and Islamic State extremists rising in the Middle East, most voters said the government's ability to address major problems has declined in recent years.

This could depress Democratic voter turnout on November 4 and boost chances that Republicans can expand their majority in the House of Representatives and win the six net seats they need to take control of the Senate.

By a margin of 46 per cent to 33 per cent, Americans expect the Republicans to win control of the Senate.

Among those polled who said they were likely to vote, Republicans have a 50 to 44 lead.

But among the broader pool of registered voters, Democrats hold the edge at 47 to 44, suggesting that Republicans have more enthusiasm about actually turning up.

In a sign that Americans are deeply frustrated with their politicians, four in 10 said it makes no difference which party controls Congress.

Campaign ads, mostly negative, have blanketed competitive states like Iowa, Alaska and North Carolina, and respondents concluded that candidates attack each other rather than addressing issues.

As disaffection mounts, overall interest in midterms appears to be slipping. Just 68 per cent of registered voters are closely following the election, down from 76 per cent in 2010 and 80 per cent in 2006.

The poll of 1,204 adults, including 1,032 registered voters, was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish between October 23 and 26. It has a margin of error of three to four points.

AFP