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Poll: Climate for GOP Keeps Getting Better

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The political environment has grown even more favorable for Republicans and rockier for President Obama and his Democrats over the long primary season that just ended with a bang.

With November’s midterm congressional matchups set and the general election campaign beginning in earnest Wednesday, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that more Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction than did before the nomination contests got under way in February. Also, more now disapprove of the job Obama is doing. And more now want to see Republicans in control of Congress rather than the Democrats who now run the House of Representatives and Senate.

Fueling voter anger is an unemployment rate that’s hovered near 10 percent all year despite efforts by Obama and fellow Democrats to accelerate the economic recovery.

The country’s pessimism benefits the out-of-power Republicans, which clearly has enthusiasm on its side. Far more people voted this year in Republicans primaries than in Democratic contests, and the antiestablishment tea party coalition has energized the Republicans even as it has sprung a series of primary surprises.

Said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Turnout and enthusiasm are off the charts.”

In Delaware, a big turnout showed up to vote as tea party-backed Christine O’Donnell upset a moderate congressman for the Senate Republican nomination. By most accounts, the outcome diminished Republican chances of winning former Vice President Joe Biden’s seat.

Republicans got their preferred candidate in New Hampshire as former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte fended off a tea party-supported candidate by a razor-thin margin.

Overall, it’s an extraordinarily dreary backdrop for Obama’s beleaguered party. And with just seven weeks until Election Day, Democrats are running out of options to mitigate widespread expected losses of House, Senate and governor’s seats from coast to coast on Nov. 2.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted that the Democrats would keep control. But, underscoring the woes facing Democrats, she stopped short of the kind of confidence she’s shown in past campaigns when her party had a political tail wind.

Republicans have steadily gained ground on economic issues and now have a slight advantage on handling the economy, the federal deficit and taxes. They improved their standing in the past month even as Obama stepped up his efforts to persuade the public to give Democratic solutions more time to work.

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