WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican Party's favorable rating among Americans is at lowest level in at least a decade, according to a new national poll.
Thirty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, with 54 percent viewing the GOP negatively.
According to the poll, 53 percent have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party, with 41 percent holding an unfavorable view. The survey indicates that favorable ratings for the Democrats have dropped 5 points since February, with the Republican number slipping 3 points.
"The Republican party may still be battling the legacy left to them by George W. Bush," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "They have also spent a lot of time in 2009 working against Democratic proposals. That hasn't left them a lot of time so far this year to present a positive, post-Bush message. Of course, there is still plenty of time for them to do so before the 2010 midterms."
Nearly seven in ten people questioned say they disapprove of how Congress is handling its job, with 29 percent saying they approve. That's a drop of 6 points in the approval since April.
"That animus toward Congress as a whole naturally spills over into attitudes toward the congressional party leadership. Just one in three approve of how the GOP leaders in Congress are handling their job; only 38 percent approve of what the Democratic leaders have done," adds Holland.
What does this mean for the 2010 elections, when all of the House and 36 Senate seats are up for grabs?
"The problem for Democrats is that the midterm elections are going to be about the Democratic Congress," says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.
While next year's contests will partially be a referendum on President Barack Obama, who remains personally popular, at the end of the day it's the Democrats who control Congress who are on the ballot.
"If Congress continues to be unpopular, it will give Republicans a message to use against those Democrats," adds Rothenberg.
"Should the numbers should hold into next year, Congressional democrats would do well to limit references to Congress and see if the president might be available for a drop by in the districts," says CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
The CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 16-18, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn