Eighty-three percent disapprove of Congress in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Nearly six in 10 want to replace their member of Congress. Just 29 percent think the country is on the right track.
Sounds like a recipe for a change election in 2014? Maybe not.
The same NBC/WSJ poll shows that, due to such deeply divided (and gerrymandered) partisan districts, the result could be another neutral political environment with neither party holding the upper hand.
The generic ballot in the poll is tied, with 44 percent of voters preferring a Democratic-controlled Congress and 44 percent preferring a Republican-controlled one. In a midterm year, with typically increased GOP turnout, Democrats usually need to have a significant edge on the generic ballot to have an advantage.
But the survey also takes a further look at how issues were penetrating in both GOP and Democratic districts, showing even deeper divides that make it harder for the opposite party to win over an increasingly shrinking House battlefield.
Unsurprisingly, in GOP and Democratic districts, views of President Obama are mirror opposites. In GOP districts, 58 percent say they disapprove of the president; in Democratic districts, 56 percent approve of the job he is doing.
In Republican districts, 54 percent of respondents say they want a GOP Congress. In Democratic districts, 57 percent say they want a Democratic Congress.
This polarization shows that even with this dissatisfaction with Congress, many voters might be reluctant in casting votes for the opposition party.
But what gives both parties nearly simultaneous worry and optimism is that such widespread unrest and unhappiness has predicted mass electoral turnover before -- in both 1992 (spurred by the House check scandal that touched both parties) and in 2010 (with unhappiness over health care and the nation’s economy).
Both parties see elements they hope can give them a way to appeal to votes, but also privately know with such a compressed battlefield, it won’t be easy. Republicans might find hope in these numbers -- 34 percent say the health-care law is a good idea, versus 47 percent who see it as a bad idea.
For Democrats, they see Americans as putting blame for congressional logjams on Congress -- with 56 percent saying House Republicans are too rigid in dealing with the president.