Veterans, Benghazi, IRS Weigh on Senate Democrats

By a more than two-to-one margin, voters in 12 Senate battleground states think stories about the Veterans Administration, Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative groups and healthcare.gov raise serious doubts about the Obama administration’s competence and aren’t just phony scandals.

That’s one of the findings released today in a survey by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic for National Public Radio.

While the economy is the top issue for most voters, Ayers told reporters on a conference call that the administration’s controversies promise to be a burden to all Democrats.

“It creates additional doubts about the administration and weighs on the job approval of the president,” he said. “It makes it far more difficult to stand with the president as a Democratic incumbent and to carry this weight of an unpopular president all the way through the November campaign.”

By 57 to 25 percent, voters in the 12 states think the controversies are real problems, including 78-11 percent among Republicans and 59-22 percent among independents. Among Democrats, 46 percent say they’re phony scandals and 34 percent say real problems.

Voters in the battleground states also prefer that the next Senate be controlled by Republicans “to act as a check and balance on President Obama’s agenda,” the poll found. By a margin of 54-36 percent, these voters want Republicans to control the next Senate rather than have the Democrats control it “to help President Obama pass his agenda.” Independents prefer Republican control by 58-29 percent.

One potential promising finding for Democrats: there doesn’t seem to be much of an enthusiasm gap. On a one-to-10 scale with one being “not at all enthusiastic” and 10 being “extremely enthusiastic,” 52 percent of both Republicans and Democrats place their enthusiasm for voting at a nine or 10.

The June 6-11 survey was conducted in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire and West Virginia. It included 1,000 likely voters, with respondents evenly distributed among the states as is the case for U.S. Senate seats.

Each state, of course, will be an individual race. Eight of those surveyed voted for Mitt Romney and four for Obama, with an average Romney lead of 8 percentage points among the 12 states, the survey said in its methodology.

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