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NPR Poll: GOP's Older Voter Advantage Slips From 4 Years Ago

The new NPR poll had good news for Republicans and Democrats. As NPR correspondent Mara Liasson reported for Morning Edition, likely voters were nearly split evenly between support and opposition to the Affordable Care Act, with 51 percent against and 47 percent for.

That could be interpreted by partisans on both sides as helpful to their cause. But there were other interesting tidbits from the poll conducted by firms led by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican Whit Ayres. Here are five:

  • Compared with 2010, Republicans had a significantly smaller percentage of people over 59 saying they would vote for a generic GOP congressional candidate instead of a Democrat if the 2014 elections were held today. The Republican advantage was 10 percentage points in the recent poll. It was 21 points in 2010. Since older voters tend to vote at higher rates than other voters, this slippage could be bad news for Republicans, especially in places where races are expected to be close.
  • A strong majority of young people (ages 18 to 29) said they supported the Affordable Care Act. Whether that translated into the sort of enrollment by young invincibles that will be vital to the success of the program is an open question. But that support level certainly makes it more instead of less likely.
  • Congressional Democrats have more intense backing in their congressional districts for their embrace of the health law (support exceeded opposition by +17 points) than Republicans have in their districts for their hostility toward the law (+4 points). Given the intense opposition to the law among Republicans and even independents, it's surprising the pollsters didn't find more lopsided support for the Republican position in those districts.
  • Assuming the economy will be a major factor in the midterm elections, Democrats have plenty of cause for worry, especially when it comes to political independents. Republicans have a 22-point advantage when it comes to which party independents agree with more. Republicans and Democrats run about even, with the GOP having a 2-point edge, which is within the margin of error. Still, a tie on which party would be better for the economy in the sixth year of a presidency, often a bad midterm year for the party holding the White House, spells trouble for Democrats. Democrats' trouble with independents increases the pressure on them to get as much of their Democratic base out to vote in November as possible.
  • Voters are themselves apparently gridlocked about who's to blame for Washington gridlock. Forty-six percent blamed President Obama and Senate Democrats, while 45 percent blamed House Speaker John Boehner.
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