NBC/WSJ poll

NBC/WSJ POLL…. Some interesting data to chew on in a new NBC/WSJ poll released today. Most notably, there’s growing evidence that some of the voters who abandoned the Republican Party during their reign of error are returning home.

Republicans have solidified support among voters who had drifted from the party in recent elections, putting the GOP in position for a strong comeback in November’s mid-term campaign, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

The findings suggest that public opinion has hardened in advance of the 2010 elections, making it tougher for Democrats to translate their legislative successes, or a tentatively improving U.S. economy, into gains among voters.

Republicans have reassembled their coalition by reconnecting with independents, seniors, blue-collar voters, suburban women and small town and rural voters — all of whom had moved away from the party in the 2006 elections, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Those voter groups now favor GOP control of Congress.

“This data is what it looks like when Republicans assemble what for them is a winning coalition,” said GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who conducts the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart.

The news for Republicans was not, however, all good. Only 30% of Americans have a favorable view of the GOP, quite a bit lower than the Democratic Party, and most of those planning to vote for Republican candidates are motivated by anti-Democratic attitudes, not support for the GOP.

What’s more, respondents were asked, “When it comes to the problems in the financial markets, do you think that [Republicans in Congress] are more concerned about the interests of average Americans or more concerned about the interests of large corporations?” A whopping 71% majority said the GOP are more concerned with big business.

Other tidbits from the poll:

* President Obama: The president’s approval rating inched up a little, and is now at 50%. Obama’s handling of the economy scored its best results since September.

* Generic Ballot: Dems and Republicans are tied at 44% each, roughly the same as its been for the last eight months.

* Enthusiasm Gap: Here’s a result that should make Dems nervous: “The voters who said they were most interested in the November elections favor Republican control of Congress by a 20-point margin, with 56% backing the GOP and 36% backing Democrats — the highest gap all year on that question.”

* Wall Street Reform: A 55% majority wants to see more done to protect consumers against Wall Street excesses, while 38% worry that officials will go too far and limit investment opportunities.

* Health care reform: The Affordable Care Act is still not popular, but support has grown and is now at its highest levels since the fall. More importantly, a 55% majority said they’re more likely to support congressional candidates who want to give the new law a chance to succeed, while 42% will back candidates who support a full repeal.

* Immigration: A 53% majority of the larger electorate believe immigration hurts the country more than it helps, and 64% support the new Arizona measure. (70% of Hispanic Americans oppose the Arizona law.)

* Oil drilling: A 60% majority supports more coastal drilling, and a slightly smaller majority believe the economic benefits outweigh the environmental risks.

* Fear of terrorism: Respondents were asked, “In general, do you approve or disapprove of using racial or ethnic profiling in combating terrorism?” A 51% majority said they approve.