The Latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll has found that voters lean toward retaining the status quo in Washington, despite dissatisfaction with the direction the U.S. is taking.
Even as most voters say they want to divide control of the White House and Congress to check the next president, they are displaying an increasing tendency toward party-line voting in congressional races that could make that outcome less likely.
The survey found an overwhelming correlation between preferences in the presidential race and the battle for congressional control. In the House of Representatives, fully 85 percent of Obama voters preferred a Democratic majority, while 92 percent of Romney voters said they want the Republicans to maintain control. In the Senate, Obama voters by an 89 percent to 3 percent margin said they preferred Democratic control, while Romney voters, by 83 percent to 9 percent want Republicans to take the majority.
These results track closely with state-level polls showing a tightening connection between attitudes in the presidential and Senate races.
Just 36 percent of voters want Democrats to control both chambers if Obama wins; 58 percent say they want Republicans to hold at least one house to check him. About one-quarter of Obama voters say they would prefer divided control.
Voters are now consistently voicing a preference for distributing power between the parties in a way that would compel them to cooperate. On the other hand, by sending to Washington fewer candidates representing voters who support the other party’s presidential candidate, they are reducing the number of legislators with an intrinsic incentive to compromise.
In its likely voter model, the Congressional Connection Poll projected that the 2012 electorate will be virtually unchanged from 2008, with Democrats holding an 8 percentage-point advantage among voters (compared with seven points last time) and whites representing 73 percent of voters (compared to 74 percent last time).