Voters give edge to Republicans on economic questions, cn|2 Poll finds

08/05/2010 08:05 PM

Kentucky voters are frustrated with Washington over the economy and are leaning toward taking out that unhappiness on Democrats, responses to the cn|2 Poll indicate.

By a healthy 12-point margin, the likely voters surveyed this week would rather see Republicans in control of Congress after the November elections than Democrats.

“The confidence level that Republicans haven’t seen the last two cycles is back,” said Vincent Fields, a Republican campaign consultant.

But Congress, overall, remains woefully unpopular and President Barack Obama didn’t fare too much better when it came to a question about his performance addressing economic issues.

Drilling in a little bit deeper, this latest cn|2 Poll revealed that Kentucky voters overwhelmingly want Congress to balance the budget and reduce the debt, while they also favor extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are slated to expire at the end of the year.

These economic-related issues are expected to set the tone for the fall election considering how dominant of a psychological force the recession, unemployment rates and low consumer confidence rates have been. For example, in the first cn|2 Poll conducted statewide from July 19-21, a majority of likely voters surveyed (51.5%) said the economy and job creation was the biggest issue affecting their votes.

Some highlights of the latest cn|2 Poll’s economic indicator results:

Which party would you rather see in control of Congress after the November election, the Democrats or the Republicans?

  • Republicans 48.8%
  • Democrats 36.5%
  • Unsure (which wasn’t offered as a choice) 8.5%
  • Neither one (also not offered) 6.2%

What is your opinion of the job Congress is doing to handle the economy?

  • Strongly approve 2.0%
  • Somewhat approve 22.6%
  • Somewhat disapprove 23.7%
  • Strongly disapprove 46.0%
  • Don’t know (not offered) 5.4%

What is your opinion of the job President Obama is doing to handle the economy?Strongly approve 11.8%

  • Somewhat approve 28.5%
  • Somewhat disapprove 15.1%
  • Strongly disapprove 40.6%
  • Don’t know (not offered) 3.9%

Also in the poll, respondents gave Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Leader, a 48.5% approval rating on his handling of economic issues.

The cn|2 Poll was conducted Aug. 2-4 by interviewers from Braun Research, Inc., a firm based in Princeton, N.J. It has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed results and cross-tabs.

The results about Obama’s job performance on the economy are in line with a national poll conducted for Time Magazine last month. That survey of 1,003 Americans showed 53% disapproved of the job Obama is doing on the economy while 44% approved.

That survey, conducted between July 12 and 13, also found that 61% said George W. Bush’s administration was more to blame

A plurality of respondents in the cn|2 Poll released Aug. 5, 2010, said George W. Bush was most to blame for the country's economic problems.

for today’s economic problems and 27% picked Obama’s administration. A similar question asked in the cn|2 Poll found Kentuckians were much more evenly divided, although a plurality pointed to Bush.

“It’s factually accurate that Obama inherited this mess,” said Danny Briscoe, a Democratic campaign consultant, noting that the Wall Street meltdown and recession began in 2008 before Obama was elected. “I’m glad people realize it was Bush’s fault.”

Briscoe said those results offered a glimmer of hope for Democrats and that party’s U.S. Senate candidate, Jack Conway, among otherwise bleak results. Conway faces Republican candidate Rand Paul in the Nov. 2 election.

“Conway has to say what he will work on to create jobs (and) get voters off what Obama stands for,” Briscoe said. “All they know about Paul is he’s for a balanced budget. Make it a local race and not Obama because that’s a losing race for Democrats.”

Paul has made cutting government spending and balancing the budget hallmarks of his campaign, although he has yet to unveil specifics about how he’d like to see the $3.8 trillion federal budget shrunk.

Still, the concept of reducing the budget is popular among Kentucky voters, the cn|2 Poll showed.

Which measure would you most like to see Congress take to try to address the economy?

  • Approve spending for an additional economic stimulus 16.9%
  • Cut the federal budget 68.6%

That bodes well for Paul, said Steve Robertson, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky.

“One thing we’ve seen consistently is that Dr. Paul’s message connects,” he said.

Also, the cn|2 Poll found that 46.9% of respondents would rather see the Bush tax cuts continue compared to 37.8% who would like to see them expire.

That already is being billed as the next big battle in Congress for the fall as Republicans push to continue the cuts to the wealthy and middle classes because they say raising taxes in a recession is a mistake. But some Democrats have balked, saying that doing so will add $700 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

Briscoe said he didn’t think most respondents understand the nuances of the issue or the fact that many of the tax cuts benefit those in the top tax bracket.

“It’s for the wealthy – how is that going to help the economy,” Briscoe said. “Ask someone if they want a tax cut and they’ll say yes. If they know it’s for people in $1 million homes, they might think differently.”

- Ryan Alessi with additional reporting by Kenny Colston


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