With the congressional midterms approaching and President Obama's approval numbers in negative territory, questions are hanging about his effect on the races.
Will Obama's agenda help or hurt Democratic candidates in tough races? Will he travel to campaign for them? Will they want to be seen with him, and will his presence do more harm or good?
Those are questions to be answered on a case-by-case basis, but National Journal and Pew have released a poll finding that, on the whole, it neither helps nor hurts for Obama to campaign for Democrats in House races.
Among independents, however, a visit from the president would make them less likely to vote for a candidate, by eight percentage points:
Some comfort for Obama and Democrats: Sarah Palin's campaigning hurts far more, as does a candidate's support for the Tea Party movement. Of all respondents, 18% said they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate Palin campaigned for, compared to 38% who said Palin's campaigning would make them less likely to support that candidate. As for Tea Partyism, that appealed to 22% of respondents and turned off 31%.
These numbers come from polling of 1,003 respondents July 29 - August 1. Given that the data stretches across congressional districts, it may not tell us much about how individual races will play out: what's really at issue is Obama's popularity in individual districts and (for Senate races) states and whether or not he actually travels to them. But it's another metric of how he's doing, as an addendum to his job-approval numbers if nothing else.