September 23rd, 2008
08:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Democrats widen lead in battle for Congress

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Democrats have the upper hand in the fight for Captiol Hill.
Democrats have the upper hand in the fight for Captiol Hill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Call it the overlooked election. An intense battle is going on right now for control of Congress, but it's overshadowed in the media by a historic race for the White House.

So which party has the upper hand in the fight for Capitol Hill?

The answer, according to a new national poll, appears to be the Democrats. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Tuesday, 56 percent of those questioned are backing the Democratic candidate for Congress, while 42 percent support the Republicans.

That's a change from immediately after the GOP convention, when the Democrats had only a 3-point lead lead over the Republicans, 49 percent to 46 percent.

"The change may simply be due to the convention bounce fading for local Republicans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "We've seen evidence that the bounce for John McCain and Sarah Palin was not a permanent change in the horse race. Since the Dems have had a double-digit lead in the so-called 'generic ballot' question throughout the year, it's possible that the current numbers are just reverting back to normal levels for 2008."

The "generic ballot" question asked voters to choose between an unnamed Democratic candidate versus an unnamed Republican in the House race in their district. In reality, people vote for specific candidates in the 435 separate district elections for the House of Representatives.

The poll also indicates that most people don't think Congress is doing a good job at all. Only 22 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, with 78 percent disapproving. The Democrats who currently control both houses of Congress fare better. Forty-four percent of those polled approve of how Democratic congressional leaders are doing their job, up 8 percentage points from July. Fifty-four percent of those polled disapprove.

The Democrats currently control 235 seats in the House to the Republicans 199, with one seat vacant. The Senate is split 49 to 49, with two independents. But both of those independent senators caucus with the Democrats, giving the party the majority in the Senate.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was taken Friday through sunday, with 1,020 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the questions on how Congress and its leaders are
handling their jobs.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Spencer from VA

    Well one things for sure, Gov. Warner will win Virginia.

    September 23, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. J from DC

    I have to say, I am a little thrown back by Sara Palin. She keeps saying everyday that she wants to bring transparency and reform to Washington. But she does not even have transparency in her own state. She has “instructed” her staff people (who work for her) not to answer subpoenas for the investigation on the trooper case. Citizens of Alaska have inquired about the issue, they want transparency. Now the small case has reached public interest and the rest of the public is now being ignored. Palin is saying that the investigation is now political. But, that happens when you are in office. The other side will ask question and try to shade light on any flaw they see. It is up to her to show that there is nothing to the allegations. If she won’t be transparent on that issue, I don’t think she will be transparent on any serious concerns the American people may have if she gets in office. For undecided voters, she is not being very transparent right now.

    September 23, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. DJ Los Angeles

    Democrats need 2/3 majority of Congress to override the President...so all you Republican apologists trying to blame Congress when they always get vetoed by Bush have no credibility.

    September 23, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    that's what we need.... a Dem president and congress so we can turn this country around and undo all the harm Bush and his rotten administration has done.

    September 23, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Spencer from VA

    I'm not sure if people are aware of this yet, but as goes Virginia, so goes the nation. Dwell on that. Virginia will be blue this year in the presidential and congressional race.

    OBAMA/BIDEN/CLINTON/WARNER

    September 23, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. McCain Invented the BlackBerry, Palin Invented the Manure Spreader

    LANDSLIDE!!

    September 23, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Cyrus K.

    Dems need a filibuster proof majority, whether Obama becomes president or not. If McCain becomes president, Dems are going to need a solid majority to derail McCain/Palin policies.

    September 23, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Rodger

    The American people are fedup with the mess the Republicans have made!

    September 23, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. J. Dean

    WE PREDICT A LANDSLIDE DEFEAT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
    TAKE NOTED OF THIS DAY 09/23/2008/

    September 23, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. jm for sc

    After today, if the American people don't see the McCain/Palin ticket for what it is, God help us all. I really can not believe this race is as close as it is. Obama/Biden should be leading in every poll by now. John McCain actually thinks voters are fool.

    Last night on the news when McCain was lying on Obama, the Joker (leiberman) was standing behind him with a phony smile because he knows what was being said was not true.

    It doesn't matter if a the man in the whitehouse is green, we need to send McCain on VA retirement and elect the best man for the job. McCain has made a mockey of the America by trying to Palin his way in the whitehouse.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 23, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Tony

    HOORAY!

    TWO GOOD THINGS WILL HAPPEN, IF BY SOME MIRACLE, MCCAIN AND THAT MORON WIN IN NOVEMBER, THEY WILL SUCCEED IN GETTING NOTHING DONE FOR TWO REASONS.

    1) CONGRESS WON'T LET THEM

    AND

    BECAUSE THERE WON'T BE ANY MONEY TO DO ANYTHING THANKS TO THE BUSH AND HIS CRONIES.

    SUDDENLY I FEEL BETTER!

    September 23, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. TODD

    After 8 years, the Republicans have made an absolute mess of things. They've had time enough to prove themselves....and I guess they did. Time to vote Democratic!

    September 23, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Abby

    In that case, senator Obama should have no problem winning as people tend to vote for the same party up and dawn the ticket based on their best interests.

    September 23, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. republican

    I am sick of all the excessive media coverage that the little 0bama is getting. There is only one candidate: McCain.

    September 23, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Chuck

    This is simply amazing considering that Democrats are in charge of all of the regulatory commitees in Congress and have done nothing to stop what is currently happening to our economy.

    Big government and special interests are killing America. What ever happened to working hard for what you get and being responsible for your own actions?

    And Obama never fails to remind us that he gets the "educated" vote.

    September 23, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Barney

    In NC we're definitely trying to get Dole "off the dole" once and for all. She has done nothing for this state. Only for her own pocketbook. Looks like it may be close, but we're trying really hard.

    September 23, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. JC

    Continue on the path, Democrats. Maybe we can finally get control of Congress and the White House again! Time to start forcing SCOTUS justices to retire....Scalia and Kennedy are 72; Souter's 69, and Thomas must have some more scandals lurking somewhere...time for a more moderate-liberal Court!

    September 23, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Jill

    People are suffering. It will be interesting to see if they stick with what got them where they are today or will they step in a new direction.
    Democrats for change!

    September 23, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. OMG!

    Thats right...even when Sarah Palin gets through fakin it with them World Leaders the lead will increase even more. This meeting will not give her experiance just because she had a chat, Her Adviser are afraid to let her speak Her mind without them telling Her what to say.

    September 23, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Tony

    NOW IF ONLY THOSE SAME PEOPLE WOULD TAKE OFF THEIR BLINDERS, WKE UP FROM THEIR 8 EYAR COMA, AND VOTE OBAMA IN NOVEMBER.

    THE COUNTRY IS IN VERY SERIOUS TROUBLE, AND MOST PEOPLE KNOW DEEP DOWN, EVEN THOUGH THEY WILL NEVER ADMIT IT, THAT MCCAIN AND THT MORON PALIN ARE WRONG FOR THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR CHILDREN AND THE COUNTRY.

    I HOPE THEY WAKE UP BEFORE THEY VOTE.

    September 23, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. Cindy

    The change may simply be due to the convention bounce fading for local Republicans- NOPE CNN that's not it... We realize what we'll be in for with the McCain/Palin ticket– More of the same!

    We the people say to McCain/Palin ticket- THANKS BUT NO THANKS!

    September 23, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. JusLaugh

    Good. Maybe we can finally get something accomplished for us average folks.

    September 23, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. a southern bell for OBAMA

    AFTER THE DEBACLE OF THE TWO BUSH

    ADMINISTRATIONS & HIS FATHER'S, WE

    DON'T WANT ANOTHER REPUBLICAN IN THE

    WHITE HOUSE FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS AT

    MINIMUM, SAME GOES FOR THE OTHER 2 HOUSES.

    THEY HAVE ROBED THIS COUNTRY BLIND.

    September 23, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Debby

    Who cares the Dem. congress has done nothing in 2 years so far and took what 2 months off for vacation.

    September 23, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. scare for this country

    I am praying for Obama to win. McCain/Palin ticket is the biggest joke in the U.S. History.

    September 23, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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