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Why GOP's predicted gains in midterm elections might be short-lived

A new poll suggests that the Republican Party is actually viewed less positively than the Democratic Party. That doesn't mean the GOP won't make gains in midterm elections. But it does mean Americans will likely give Republicans little time to make an impact.

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Everyone knows the Democratic Party is unpopular and that it stands to lose a substantial number of House and Senate seats come November, perhaps even control of one or both chambers.

But in fact, the public thinks worse of the Republicans, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 24 percent of Americans view the Republican Party positively, an all-time low in the poll’s 21-year history. That compares with a 33 percent positive rating for the Democrats. The negative ratings are comparable – 46 percent unfavorable for the Republicans, 44 percent for the Democrats.

Those numbers do not foretell major losses for the Republican incumbents. Generalized unhappiness with the GOP does not necessarily mean discontent with one’s member of Congress.

Most important, the Democrats control both Congress and the White House, and voters will take out their frustration over the state of the country on them. In particular, a well-documented enthusiasm gap, demonstrated most recently in Tuesday’s higher turnout numbers for Republicans over Democrats in the primaries, means GOP voters are more motivated to go out and vote against Democrats than Democrats are to support their own party.

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