WASHINGTON Americans unhappy with the economy are poised to hand control of the House of Representatives to Republicans in Tuesday elections that are shaping up as a rebuke of President Barack Obama, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Monday.
Fifty percent of likely voters said they will choose a Republican candidate when they vote while 44 percent said they will pick a Democrat, the national survey showed.
Republicans are likely to win some 231 seats in the House and take control of the chamber, the poll projected. Ipsos pollster Cliff Young predicted Democrats would hang on to control of the Senate with either a margin of 52 seats to 48 for Republicans or 53-47.
Obama has enjoyed one-party rule in Washington since taking power nearly two years ago. The election result, if it plays out the way the pollsters say it will, would mark a stark reversal of fortunes for him.
Tough political battles seemed to loom ahead over taxes, spending and deficits when a new Congress takes power in January. And Republicans might seek to repeal parts of Obama's signature achievement, his healthcare overhaul.
There was some talk among Democrats of a mid-course correction by Obama.
"He has a good sense of perspective about the challenge of midterm elections and about the need going forward to make some adjustments and corrections. And you'll see those play out over the course of the next few weeks," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine told ABC's "Good Morning America."
VOTERS FOCUS ON ECONOMY
Whoever wins, Americans reeling from a 9.6 percent jobless rate want to see the economy on the mend. By a margin of 62 percent to 33 percent, they believe the country is on the wrong track and 47 percent cited the economy as the biggest problem facing the United States today.
The economic woes are taking their toll on Obama, who says his policies need more time to work and that Republicans would take America back to economic policies he believes are discredited.
"It just reconfirms the present environment in which we are in, a bad economy that has been prolonged," said Ipsos pollster Cliff Young. "People are basically not optimistic about the near future and they are going to take it out on the party in power, specifically the president and his administration."
The poll said 50 percent of those polls believed the Obama administration has made the economy worse than it was before, while 26 percent said Obama has made it better.
Obama's own job approval ratings continue to lag. The poll found that 45 percent of Americans approved of the way Obama is doing his job, versus 51 percent who said they disapprove.
In a sign that Obama has some work to do to improve his fortunes ahead of his 2012 re-election campaign, 52 percent of those surveyed did not think Obama will win re-election in 2012, the poll found. This included 34 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans.
"It's a bad environment for Democrats, but it's two years away from the general elections. You have to take that number with a grain of salt," said Young.
Americans will choose 435 members of the House on Tuesday and 37 members of the 100-seat Senate. Democrats currently hold significant majorities in both chambers.
Young said Republicans are doing better this election cycle after suffering big losses in the 2006 and 2010 elections because they are perceived better able to handle economic issues like jobs, taxes and deficit reduction.
In a final push on Monday, Obama gave radio interviews to several syndicated radio programs, mostly for broadcast on Election Day, and planned to make calls to Democratic volunteers and activists in Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Hawaii, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
The poll of 1,075 adults, including 893 registered voters and 654 who said they are likely to vote, was conducted October 28-31. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points for all adults, 3.3 percent for registered voters and 3.8 percent for likely voters.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Bell and Matt Spetalnick, Editing by Jackie Frank)