Think Congress’ single-digit approval rating means a passing of the gavel? Before you count on composting again in the House cafeteria, take a look at our new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. After three straight wave elections, the odds of Democrats taking back the House don’t look good. Democrats lead on the generic Congressional ballot by just two points, 45% to 43%, likely too narrow an edge for them to net the 25 seats they need to regain control. And, in their own districts, it looks like voters are leaning against throwing the proverbial ‘bums’ out. More people tell us their member of Congress deserves to be re-elected than say they they’d like to give a new person a chance to serve. The last time we heard that kind of reaction was in October 2004, and the Republican House majority kept their jobs.
It may be a reflection of polarization or of dissatisfaction with Washington gridlock, but voters also are yearning for one-party control. 44% of voters we polled told us their preference was to have President Obama re-elected with a Democratic Congress; 41% preferred a President Romney and a Republican Congress. Just 8% told us they’d prefer divided government. Some Senate contests have seemed to operate in a vacuum, driven by individual candidates rather than determined by traditional red and blue patterns. But don’t be surprised if Senate fights in some of these states - think Florida and Ohio - end up closer than they’ve appeared; and if races in Nevada, Wisconsin and Virginia come down to the wire.