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

Democrats widen lead in battle for Congress

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. Cindy

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

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

    Democrats are trying to add pork to the bail out plan. They are extending the economic meltdow (which you and I are paying for at the pump and in the store) in order to win another point for Obama in the polls.

    Putting the country second and the party first.. yeah... that's what I want in my government.

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


    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Matt

    Good. Now, everyone vote Obama so we don't have to deal with veto after veto after veto after veto from a spiteful, angry, partisan executive who is setting up his party's next campaign's effort to blame the party with an insufficient majority in congress to overturn the vetoes for nothing getting done.

    Yeah, that's right. It's not a "do nothing" Congress. It's a "prevent everything" President.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. jona

    Oh you idiots.. you slant your news, then you do a poll of your viewers and you post the results as if it means something..

    95% of America has no idea what is going on with Wall Street. As do 95% of your airhead TV Anchors. Get real you stupid propagandists. Get friggin real.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Palin has more experience than Obama

    Dems have been in control of congress for 6 years. It makes me laugh when libs/dems put all the market blame on Bush. LOL

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Calf4Hillary

    Great. let the democrats take over Congress and then maybe something will get done that doesn't harm the people too much. As for the white house, I am not ready to vote for an unqualified candidate just becasue he happens to a democrat and black. I'm putting my support behind ralph Nader.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain's trying to keep reporters out of Palin's meeting, Hmm. Sounds like GWB, Dick Cheney and Cheney's attorney along with Rumsfeld when they shut Colin Powell out while they signed the war documents. DON'T TRUST MCCAIN OR PALIN.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Darrel from Denver

    Another reason to vote for Obama. McCain will not be able to do anything other than veto legislation and attempt to stall progress. Obama will have the backing of Congress.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Peter (CA)

    Looks like 55-56 Democratic Senators this year. Not filibuster-proof but, when President Obama puts his agenda into action, the Republicans will need to help or they risk losing more seats in 2010.

    The Republicans do not care about the average American. Their greed and the greed of their friends in the corporate boardroom and on Wall Street have proven this.

    September 23, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. MD, TX

    Apparently people don't look back at the past two years and see what has happened to America since the democrats took over congress.

    September 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Enlightened Voter

    If Palin is not ready to be interviewed how is she ready to be VP?

    September 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. sarah

    We can't afford another 4 years of Bush's failed policies. Do everything you can to get Obama elected. My friends and I made a pact, everytime Palin says something stupid, we give $5 to Obama. Some give more.
    This has become quite expensive.

    I don't think that the press should cover either of them after todays problem – not allowing the press to do their job. Imagine the audaciousness of the Republicans decision.


    September 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. McCain in Georgia!!

    Wah Wah Wah. Again, this Congress has done less than any other in history! But, of course, as usual, it always has to be someone else's fault!

    I say, let the Dems have it! Give me a chance to whine and moan for a few years.....Heck, you all can't even agree on the choice that was made for VP, how are you going to agree on how to get anything else done!!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Bob Indianapolis IN

    Finally, staring into the abyss, America realizes what we meant in 2004 when we said "This is the most important election of our time."
    We are going to bury the Reptilican Party so deep, they'll think they are the Whigs!

    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Reagan

    I have no faith in the Democratic party anymore. It's been over run by non-Democratic people that sway so extremely left that it's scary.

    Like Obama who masks himself as a Democrat. Congress persons such as Sandra Pelosi and supporters who have no idea what Democrats stood for before Obama have hijacked this party.

    That's why I will vote McCain. That's why I will wait 4 more years for one of the last real Democrats to re-run. Hillary Clinton.

    McCain/Palin 08

    Hillary Clinton 12

    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. the other jd

    LOLOLOLOLOL @ republican

    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Laura, Boston

    Remember what happened when we had a rep. president, house and senate up until 2006. Nothing.

    Having a balance of power is good and John McCain has proven that he has and will work across the aisle to get things done. He has a good track record of doing just that!

    McCain/Palin '08

    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |









    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. Sally from Cali

    Sarah Palin trying to play catch-up at the UN is boring. McCain is doing us all a favor by not letting the press hear how out of touch she is with the rest of the world. We all know that.

    Is CNN losing its edge? Come on reports some more serious news like Georgia's polls opened today and Atlanta's gas stations are out of gas. Hmm. What a coincidence. How about a report on whether frustration at the gas pump will affect how Atlanta votes.

    September 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Kelby from Houston, TX

    The Dems currently have control of The House and after their first go around we have all come to the realization that we MUST HAVE control of The Senate as well. The rethuglicans had the power of the presidency, House and Senate. DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID WITH IT?
    In order to help the people of this nation and undo the damage they did, we need to get the same level of power and access that they had.


    September 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Concerned American

    Funny how bad news for Republicans is usually good news for Americans...

    September 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. emeka, FLORIDA

    I still do not understand how a rational being buys into the failed republican neo-con philosophy aka The Bush Doctrine. Let Americana unite and vote the DEMS into the congress and White House. We do not only need change in leadership, we also need change of attitude and how Washinton is run.

    September 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. GP

    American's are waking up to the reality that the party in power for so many years did not represent traditional republican values. To over simplify, they were anti-government at all cost.

    We are now seeing the results of when a party in power holds the concept of self governing in contempt.

    September 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. rick

    well dems are wating for Bush to leave office and takeover every parts of government and thats good for us. dems unite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! enough of gop crooks

    September 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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