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. mitchell

    that's what republicans get for trying to destroy our country. 'country first' to them means corporations and wall street first!

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Enlightened Voter

    Chuck – Obviously you know very little about the government or anything else. HOWEVER Republicans have had control of BOTH houses for six of the past 8 years. Even though the dems have had a majority for the last 2 years their efforts have been thwarted by republican filibusters (look that up cause I know you don't know) and over 500 vetos by Bush alone in the last two years. It is amazing they have gotten anything done. When the republicans tell you what to think they need to provide you with the truth so you don't sound like a moron.

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Heather, Cleveland, OH


    I guess there aren't enough Rovians to spread around to the congressional campaigns – campaigns that will lie out of every side of their face to voters eager to eat it up.

    McCain/Palin – Joke

    Obama/Biden – The only REAL choice

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. LIP

    None of this makes sense. The Democrats have controlled Congress for the last two years and before that it was off and on with the Democtrats causing so much grid lock that nothing could be accompliished. It is a fact that all of these finamncial woes started with Bill Clinton signing the bill that began the deregulation and unraverling of our financial situation and yet the Democrats are leading in the polls. Looks like we will get more of what we deserve...

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey Biden

    I guess I am patriotic, since I pay income tax. I think you called those 40% of Americans who do not pay any taxes unpatriotic.

    You Mr. Biden are pathetic, I wonder how come you are so poor when you son is a federal lobbyist? I wonder if he pays taxes. Is your son patriotic Mr. Biden?

    Why do you democrats have to label everyone? Why does Obama call women pigs and people in the Mid West bitter people. Why to you lie and say McCain can't use a computer?

    You Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama belong in the pig pen with all the big pigs. I am sure

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. bruno nana

    bring it on man.

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Palin has more experience than Obama

    DJ Los Angeles September 23rd, 2008 4:16 pm ET

    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.


    What has been vetoed that caused the market mess????
    GIve facts. Without the facts to back up your statement you have no credibility. I blame Bush and Congress both for the mess.

    September 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. P. D.

    What choice do the American people have? After the Republican rule, we have no money, two wars, and a terrible image around the world. Do we really want four more years of this crap? Hell no. Vote Democratic, It's our only hope.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Deb, Allentown, PA

    Since the Palin ticker is closed...I'm going to reprint something I saw elsewhere.

    If you were buying a car, would you buy it solely on how it looks? Wouldn't you want to test drive it, listen to the radio, kick the tires, hear how the engine runs, etc? Of course you would! The Republicans are asking us to "buy" Sarah Palin without a test drive. NO press exposure whatsoever? It's ridiculous and we cannot let these people win!

    Go out and volunteer, drive people to the polls, talk to your neighbors, get involved. We have to get Obama and Biden in office for us to have any chance at restoring this country to its once former glory.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. Wake up and see the truth

    Yes by all means lets elect more socialists to the dumbacratic congress that does nothing.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Patrick, Fairfield, CA

    Let's kick them all out. For the most part, they are money hungry crooked good-for-nothings with personal agendas that have nothing to do with helping the regular common folk! I am still an Obama supporter, but Nancy Polosi and Harry Ried have done nothing worthwhile as House and Senate leaders. They promised to do well by the American people and have done just the opposite. They need to be fired! We certainly know what the Republicans can do – Nothing! So why not clean house? Here are some words of wisdom for you, Congress, when you go on your end of the year recess, don't bother coming back!

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Matt

    Sorry guys, but bad news in the form of truth isn't evidence of bias. Facts aren't biased. Idiots who choose to disregard them, pretend they don't exist or even fabricate fake ones to counter the real ones...those are the people who are biased.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Willy Brown

    Another step toward socialist rule.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Loud & Proud Leftie

    Turns out, greed is not so good.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. ivan123

    It took the Democrats 6 years to obtain a majority in Congress in both the Reagan administration and in the Bush administration. It only took the Republicans TWO years to obtain a majority under the Clinton administration. It doesn't look to ME like the Democrats are all that popular. Further, if the Democrats insist on blocking oil drilling when voters are paying nearly $4.00/gallon at the pump, the Dems are not likely get any more popular.

    September 23, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. ANGIE

    Well once again the democrats have to clean up the financial mess that the republicans make, The republicans have been in control for 6 YEARS AND JUST LOOK AT WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO THIS COUNTRY ECONOMY IS GOING DOWN THE DRAIN, WE HAVE LOST RESPECT FROM OTHER COUNTRIES TIME TO GET THE BUMS OUT VOTE DEMOCRAT!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Rob Rocklin

    The Republicans have made such a mess it is amazing that anyone could consider voting for them. However, because of the structure of government you have to be very concerned if there is a dem. president and a dem congress. History suggests that whatever party is in this situation will soil their nest.

    September 23, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Annette, Washington, DC

    I remember the Keating 5, here we go again.
    Obama/Biden 08

    September 23, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Obamacan

    Whoever watch Obama's press conference today probably realized why this is not only ready to lead on day 1. HE'S READY TO LEAD NOW.

    McBush and my Ex- Republican party. We lied our way into the White house in the last two Elections. That's not happening now.

    Republican for Obama 08

    September 23, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Jane, Winnetka, Il

    Great news. Obama and Biden can preside over the coming depression. They will incur the wrath of the public as they are unable to deal with the world wide crisis.

    Sarah Palin will spend the next four years building experience as she has started today at the United Nations. Since she is only 44, she will be a powerhouse in U.S. politics for the next 20 years.

    Sarah Palin 12 & 16'

    September 23, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. karen

    Why cant Bill Clinton keep his mouth shut!!! The Clintons do not help Barack at all!!! Stupid ridiculous comments about palin!! and advice to barack please–Barack knows exactly what hes doing without an inflated ego!!!!!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. john

    I agree with CNN, them Dem's are the greatest! They rule, they rock! What bias?

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    The names may change but the game's stll the same. Please look at the voting record of the people you are voting for.

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. judge huck

    NEWS FLASH: John McCain and Sarah Palin just revamped their campaign theme to address the widening poll gap between the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress. The new message as follows:

    ... Dumb and Dumber working hard for you, America!

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. JL

    Great news! Let's hope for a turn toward a better future.

    Democrats all the way!!

    Obama-Biden 2008

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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