Voters still unhappy, GOP still not capitalizing

VOTERS STILL UNHAPPY, GOP STILL NOT CAPITALIZING…. Results like these are starting to seem pretty familiar — everyone’s unhappy, everyone’s unpopular.

As voters head to the polls Tuesday for a crucial set of primary elections, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds antipathy toward their elected officials rising and anti-incumbent sentiment at an all-time high.

The national survey shows that 29 percent of Americans now say they are inclined to support their House representative in November, even lower than in 1994, when voters swept the Democrats out of power in the that chamber after 40 years in the majority.

The poll also finds growing disapproval of the “tea party” movement, with half the population now expressing an unfavorable impression of the loosely aligned protest campaign that has shaken up politics this year. […]

Elected officials nationwide are feeling their constituents’ dissatisfaction. In the new Post-ABC poll, 69 percent of all Americans say they are either dissatisfied or angry with the government, and 60 percent say they are inclined to look for other candidates in November, the most ever in a Post-ABC poll.

Given the intense antipathy towards the status quo, it’s tempting to think Republicans would be delighted. After all, if voters aren’t happy with those in power, it stands to reason that the public would start to embrace the minority party in larger numbers.

Except, that’s the other consistency in public opinion — Republicans still aren’t capitalizing on voter frustration.

Respondents were asked, for example, which party they trust more “in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years.” Democrats lead Republicans, 44% to 32%. The 12-point gap is double the six-point edge Dems enjoyed in February. Looking back to the fall of 1994, when Republicans took the congressional majority, the parties were about tied.

A majority of the country — and nearly a third of self-identified Republicans — say they are “dissatisfied with or angry at the policies of congressional Republicans.” For all that’s happened of late, those numbers have scarcely budged over the last eight months.

On the generic-ballot, the GOP fares better, but still trails Dems, 47% to 44%. Republicans had a three-point lead in February.

It’s safe to assume that the majority party will invariably feel the brunt of voter frustration, and suffer more electoral setbacks. But for all the talk about a “wave,” there’s little evidence the public wants Republicans on the surfboard.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.