Many of the major building blocks in the big 2008 victory by President Obama and fellow Democrats have crumbled this year, with voters in them showing big swings to the Republican side in the midterm elections, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted Oct. 16-21. (Story
; Poll Data
The most dramatic shift has been among independents, who most national and state polls show to have grown far more negative about Obama
, in particular, and the Democrats in general since two years ago. Independents now are more Republican by 20 points.
Women, who 2008 exit polls showed supporting Obama by 56 percent to 43 percent, have moved into the Republican column by almost 5 points.
Catholics have shifted in favor of the Republicans by almost 25 points (in 2008, they backed Obama by 54 percent to 45 percent); families earning under $50,000 a year have moved to the GOP side, although by less dramatic numbers; and voters in the 30-to-44 age group, who went for Obama by 52 percent to 46 percent, now are more Republican by almost five points. (Poll chart of where groups stand now
; 2008 Exit Poll data
The Democrats have also suffered setbacks in the West, where they won Colorado and New Mexico in 2008, with that region becoming more Republican this year by 10 points.
That's not to say that voters are delighted with either party. Even though 46 percent of likely voters say they will back the Republican candidate in their congressional district compared to 40 percent for Democrats (with the remainder undecided, favoring other candidates or answering that their choice "depends"), the Republican Party is seen unfavorably by 52 percent compared to 41 percent who regard it favorably, while the Democratic Party does better, with 48 percent seeing them unfavorably compared to 46 percent who see it favorably.
But the acid test this year is which voters are more likely to go to the polls, and just about every survey has said the Republicans have the advantage on that score.
Despite all the attention that the tea party has garnered, 55 percent say a candidate's claim to represent the movement will make no difference to their vote, 28 percent said they would be less likely to vote for that person and 12 percent said they would be more likely to do so.
More than three-quarters of those polled want to see congressional Democrats and Republicans compromise more.
Seventy-two percent believe that President Obama will try to work with congressional Republicans if they take over Capitol Hill, but they have a mixed view as to whether the Republicans, in victory, will work with Obama: 46 percent say they will, 45 percent predict they won't and 9 percent are undecided.
Obama's job approval rating right now stands at 47 percent who disapprove and 45 percent who approve, with 8 percent undecided. But asked if voters felt generally optimistic or pessimistic about the next two years under Obama, 56 percent said they were optimistic compared to 37 percent who said they were with pessimistic, with 7 percent undecided.
But so far his presidency has disappointed 54 percent of Americans while 45 are somewhat or very satisfied with it. At the two ends of the spectrum, when it comes to intensity of feeling on that question, 13 percent say they are "very" satisfied while 29 percent are "very" disappointed.
Fifty-one percent say the economy is about where they expected it to be today when Obama took office, 36 percent consider it worse and 11 percent believe it is better.
Former President Bush still tops the list of those who get the blame for the current state of the economy, with 30 percent singling him out. Twenty-two percent blame Wall Street and financial institutions, 13 percent blame Congress, 8 percent say it is Obama's responsibility and the remainder name another culprit, or say it is a combination of the players or are undecided.
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