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Democrats’ Plummeting Poll Numbers Could Derail Obama’s Agenda

More bad poll numbers are greeting Democrats as they recover from Labor Day barbecues and stump speeches, raising the question of how Democratic incumbents will respond when Congress resumes next week. Both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal show a wide margin for Republicans over Democrats on a generic ballot, and political handicapper Stu Rothenburg has revised his initial prediction for GOP House seat gains significantly upwards. His new likely scenario shows Republicans capturing between 37 and 42 House seats, meaning the 39 they need to regain the majority is well within their grasp.

Nowhere is the news more glum, notes Chris Cillizza at The Fix, than in Ohio, where Republicans have jumped to wide leads in both the Senate and gubernatorial races in the traditional battleground state. A Columbus Dispatch poll shows that the once-close races now have former Rep. John Kasish (R) leading Gov. Ted Strickland (D) 49 percent to 37 percent in the race for governor, while former Rep. Rob Portman (R) is beating out Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) 50 percent to 37 percent for the state’s open Senate seat.

In response, the White House has scheduled some high profile visits to the state, in which at least six House Democrats also face competitive races. Vice President Joe Biden participated in a Labor Day parade in Toledo with Gov. Strickland yesterday, while President Obama is set to stump for a proposal for new tax cuts for small business owners who create jobs in a speech in the state tomorrow.

It’s clear that the Obama administration would like to pass a number of new stimulus measures between now and midterms. In addition to the small business bill that’s still sitting in the Senate, he’s proposing measures to shore up the nation’s infrastructure, make an R&D tax credit permanent, and let companies deduct the entire cost of capital investments they make next year.

It’s not clear whether Democrats, fearful of the grim poll numbers, will go along with the president’s agenda. The anti-spending rhetoric from Republicans is so deafening that even bills that are fully paid for, like the Senate small business bill, are having a hard time finding enough support. At the very least, the Democratic leadership will have its hands full keeping the caucus together when it comes to passing further stimulative measures this month.

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