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The latest George Washington University Battleground 2008 Poll Findings
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October 5, 2006

Battleground 2004

WASHINGTON - The latest edition of The George Washington University Battleground 2006 Poll finds an extremely negative political environment that leaves the Republican Party vulnerable to losing both Houses of Congress if the party cannot find ways to reverse the current trends.

The data in the most recent GW-Battleground Poll shows that the Democratic Party enjoys an eight point advantage on the generic Congressional ballot (49%-41%). The majority of likely voters believe the country is on the wrong track (62%) and think the country is worse off than it was four years ago (52%). Concern (36%) is the emotion most commonly selected to describe voter feelings about the direction of the country. A majority of likely voters (51%) believe the Democrats in Congress will do a better job than President Bush on their top issue, and a plurality of likely voters (46%) believe the Democrats in Congress will do a better job than the Republicans in Congress on their top issue. Regarding name identifications, a majority of likely voters (51%) have a favorable view of the Democrats in Congress while the Republicans in Congress have 50 percent of the likely electorate holding an unfavorable view of them.

An anti-Washington sentiment remains high among the likely electorate. George W. Bush (53% unfavorable), Hillary Clinton (48% unfavorable), and Dick Cheney (53% unfavorable) all have significantly high negative ratings. In fact, the only figures tested with notably positive favorable scores are two leaders with "outsider" personas - John McCain (52% favorable/29% unfavorable) and Bill Clinton (54% favorable/42% unfavorable).

However, some signs of hope are evident for Republicans in the polling data. A majority (53%) of likely voters believe this election is a vote on re-election for the Member of Congress, not a referendum on the policies of President Bush. Fully 62% of likely voters approve of the job their Member of Congress is doing. On Iraq, likely voters are not as pessimistic as conventional wisdom suggests - 45% think the War in Iraq is worth fighting; 57% think of the War in Iraq as part of the War on Terrorism, and 49% support keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until the situation is confirmed to be stable.

Examining these results, Republican pollster Ed Goeas said, "Even at this late date, most Republican campaigns have expended less than half of their resources. If the national political environment continues to deteriorate, Republican candidates will certainly face serious challenges ahead. This data strongly reinforces that it will be critical to focus on state by state data and on district by district data to find the best paths to victory for Republican candidates."

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster, said, "Democrats are poised to make significant gains in both houses of Congress. Democrats 8-point advantage on the generic Congressional ballot - up from 5-points in our last Battleground survey - is distinctly stronger in competitive Congressional districts. The Democrats' strategy of nationalizing this election is meeting with success. The President is now a liability in most districts and could determine the election in several."

"Historically mid-term elections, especially ones occurring in a President's second term, yield a change in parties," said Christopher Arterton, dean of the GW's Graduate School of Political Management. "This year, the stakes for the Republican Party are significant and the possibility of the Democrats taking control of both houses is greater than anticipated earlier this year."

This bipartisan GW-Battleground 2006 Poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide February 12-15, 2006, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1%.

First conducted in 1991, this year marks the poll's 15th anniversary. It has accurately portrayed the political climate through four Presidential and three mid-term election cycles. The GW-Battleground Poll continues to be an in-depth bipartisan look at the political climate and a leader in setting the standards for polling.

This nationally recognized series of scientific surveys is unique to the industry, in that it offers the distinct perspectives of two top pollsters from different sides of the aisle. The George Washington University is the sponsor of the GW-Battleground Poll, a highly regarded, bi-partisan election survey conducted by top polling firms Lake Research Partners' and The Tarrance Group.

The University's role in the poll is guided by its Graduate School of Political Management. GW's public affairs, public policy, and international affairs programs (undergraduate and graduate) are frequently ranked highly in leading publications, including recognition among the Top 10 "Most Politically Active" colleges and universities in the 2005 Princeton Review and as the "Hottest School for Political Junkies," according 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide. The George Washington University also is one of the nation's best schools in fostering social responsibility and public service, according to the Princeton Review and Washington Monthly, which both included the University among its top-rated schools for community service in 2005.

For more information about the poll, please contact Daniel Gotoff at Lake Research Partners at (202) 776-9066 or e-mail Daniel at

The GW-Battleground Poll archives since 1991 are at GW’s Gelman Library,
For more news about GW, visit the GW News Center at

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