New Flares for GOP in 2006 Election Views

ByABC News
August 7, 2006, 3:54 PM

Aug. 7, 2006 — -- There are new warning flares for Republicans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll: Fifty-three percent of Americans call themselves "anti-incumbent," and the fewest since 1994 approve of their own representative's performance in Washington.

Anti-incumbency is as high now as it was in the summer of 1994, before the last election in which control of Congress changed hands. And it peaks not just among Democrats and liberals but among traditional swing voters as well. Sixty-one percent of Independents, for example, say they're anti-incumbent this year.

The danger for Republicans is underscored by their deficit in voter preference. Fifty-two percent of registered voters say if the election were held today they'd support the Democrat in their congressional district, 39 percent the Republican -- a number that has held steady for nine months running. Among anti-incumbent voters, nearly two-thirds support Democrats for the House.

Much of the Republicans' problems reflect President Bush's in general, and the Iraq War in particular. By a 15-point margin, Americans are less likely rather than more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Bush's policies in Iraq. That soars to a 44-point margin among liberals, underscoring Sen. Joseph Lieberman's trouble in his Democratic primary tomorrow. But it also reaches more broadly: Moderates are 27 points more likely to oppose a candidate who favors Bush's war policies; Independents, 25 points.

Another result -- a sharp ideology gap -- marks the Republicans' risk. While 83 percent of liberals support the Democrat in their congressional district, fewer conservatives, 60 percent, support the Republican. Indeed, three in 10 conservatives favor the Democrat in their district, substantially more than the 18 percent of liberals who voted Republican in 1994.

Still, other results are less bleak for the Republicans. While Bush's job approval rating remains weak, 40 percent, that's its best since March, and it's up seven points from its mid-May low. Approval of Congress, while just 36 percent, was much worse shortly before the 1994 election --