Washington (AFP) - US Democrats' chances at regaining majorities in Congress are rising, a new poll showed Wednesday, as President Donald Trump's approval rating suffers a fresh hit and Republicans issue dire warnings about upcoming elections.
With 55 days until the mid-terms that will decide congressional, state and local races nationwide, the Republicans who control both chambers of Congress appear increasingly threatened by a resurgent opposition.
The worry among Republicans has risen to such levels that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently likened his party's efforts to hold their Senate majority to a "knife fight in an alley."
Asked in the latest NPR/Marist poll which party they are more likely to vote for in their congressional districts in November, Americans chose Democrats by a 12-point advantage.
The shift is particularly acute in the US Midwest, where Democrats have enjoyed a 13-point swing in their direction since July, according to the poll.
Trump's trade wars are unpopular in the Midwest, where tariffs imposed in retaliation for his aggressive levies on cars, steel and other imports have hurt manufacturing and farming operations.
In the poll of 949 adults, half of voters (50 percent) said they were more likely to vote for the Democrat in their district over the Republican (38 percent) -- an increase from July, when the Democratic edge was 47 to 40 percent.
Heaping further pressure on poor Republican numbers is Trump's unpopularity.
Just 36 percent approve of the way the president is handling his job, down from 42 percent in August, a CNN poll released Monday showed.
Among independents the drop was sharper, from 47 percent approval last month to 31 percent now.
Democrats need to flip 23 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives to reclaim the majority, a goal several experts say is likely to be met.
They face a far tougher election map in the 100-member Senate, but polling data has shown several races skewing toward Democrats.
McConnell himself expressed doubts about his party holding the upper chamber, pointing to toss-up races from Republican strongholds in North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia to swing states like Florida and Nevada.
"All of them too close to call, and every one of them like a knife fight in an alley," McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
"I hope when the smoke clears, that we'll still have a majority in the Senate."