Washington Babylon — August 4, 2010, 12:18 pm

There Go The Midterms

Afghanistan + The Economy + Health Care Reform = this:

Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday.

Yes, polling trends can, and almost surely will, change between now and the fall elections, but the general outlook for Democrats in the midterms is pretty grim. Afghanistan is a disaster and unlikely to turn around significantly. Obama and the Democrats can whine all they want about how they inherited a bad economy—it’s true, they did—but the unemployment rate is a scandal and the president can’t blame George W. Bush forever.

It remains to be seen whether the health-care reform package will actually make life better for most Americans—I have my doubts—but it surely won’t have done so by the fall.

The only hope for Democrats is that generic polling data about party preferences suggest no matter how unhappy voters are with congress they tend to vote for incumbents in larger numbers than anyone expects. (Partly because of name recognition, partly because incumbents raise far more money than challengers and can buy more TV ads.)

“The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy,” Edwin Edwards, the former governor of Louisiana, once said about his electoral prospects. Edwards won in a landslide, despite his notorious reputation for corruption.

If the candidates can stay out of those beds, Democrats might not lose as many seats as expected this fall. But it’s likely to be ugly either way.

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