GW poll reveals country is on wrong track

by Karelia Pallan

Sixty-two percent of people think the country is on the wrong track, according to a new GW poll conducted in September and released last week.

The George Washington University's Battleground political poll released last Thursday found that more than half of the 1,000 participants said the country was headed in the wrong direction. The poll was conducted before the recent scandal involving Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley. Mid-term elections for members of the House of Representatives and a third of the U.S. Senate seats will take place Nov. 3.

The poll found that 52 percent of participants believe that the country is worse off than it was four years ago, and 62 percent believe the country is on the wrong track. Poll figures also show that 51 percent said they believe the Democrats in Congress will do a better job than President Bush dealing with their top issues while 46 percent told the pollsters that the Democrats in Congress will do a better job than the Republicans in Congress with their top concerns.

The poll information was gathered from Sept. 24 to 27, before the news of the Mark Foley scandal broke. Foley, a Republican congressman from Florida, resigned his post last week after allegations of inappropriate electronic messages between him and teenage congressional workers.

"(The Foley scandal) has the potential to demobilize and demoralize the conservative Christian voters," democratic pollster Celinda Lake said, "but the race isn't over yet."

The Tarrance Group, a Republican polling association, and Lake Research, a Democratic polling association, team up annually to poll voters and analyze the results separately.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary the two organizations have been cooperating to present the Battleground Poll. GW became a sponsor of the poll three years ago.

Brian Nienaber, the representative of the Tarrance group, pointed to statistics that indicated that Democrats will control both houses of Congress if popular opinion stays the same until mid-term elections.

"This is certainly a troubling development for the Republicans," he said.

"While most people are dissatisfied with Congress as a whole, however, many are satisfied with their particular member of Congress," he added. Polling found 62 percent approve of their individual members of Congress.

Lake, who is the CEO of Lake Research, said she thinks there is a positive outlook for the Democratic Party in Congress.

"One key trend is that Americans want change; they want checks and balances," she said. "The President used to be an asset; he's now a drag. He does not bring any extra credibility to his party."

The poll also found both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney with a 53 percent unfavorable rating.

Both analysts pointed to the importance increasing voters between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote.

"The problem with young voters is that they are not planning to turn out to vote, unfortunately," Lake said. "This is an investment now and for the future. We have found that if you vote the same party three times consecutively, you keep that party for the rest of your life."

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