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. Michael

    Obama's ideas/plans smell like two week old collard greens!

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Michael

    Some tips about the current Senate make up for those who cry out about the "do-nothing" Democrat majority:

    1. To override a presidential veto requires a 2/3rds majority. That's 67 senators. There are only 49 Democrats current in office with 2 Independents leaning towards the Democrat side.
    2. To stop a filibuster requires 60 votes. For those at home, a filibuster is when someone stands up and is as long-winded as possible to prevent any action from being taken on the issue by wasting everyone's time with endless debate.

    The Republicans obviously know about both of these (otherwise, what are they doing in office?) and have dug in their heels to gain political advantage by stating the other side is ineffective. It is they that don't want to be worked with, they'd rather just get re-elected, or regain the majority to do things their way, which as everyone can see, doing things their way has resulted in our current crisis.

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. AJ

    What legacy President Bush and republicans are leaving? Worst in the history of the US, in my opinion. An illegal and unwanted war that will suck 1 trillion dollars out of our treasury, worst standing for US in the world, worst economic conditins since depression in 1930 that will suck another 1 trillion dollars out of hard earned money.

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. R. Cooper

    Lipstick does wear off, doesn't Dem women!!


    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. RC

    Whats the deal with McCains shoulder pads? The must be 10" thick. Looks like his arms come out a foot below his shoulder.

    And I own 13 cars. All American too. 1951 – 2006. All Fords, on eMercury and one Chevy Corvette

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. NoTrustInPolitics

    Good. Mabye the country will finally get out of this mess. Or mabye not. Oh, and for all of you radical rebublicans who are whining that the Dems have done zip in congress for the past two years: They are being:

    (1) vetoed by Bush, and

    (2) being stalled by the republicans.

    Chew on that in your fanatical rathole.

    -an independant

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Candy West Virginia

    The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square – I see your up to your typical hateful, nonsensical rants that have no basis in reality. What a bitter, unenlightened neanderthal you are. You sound more like a screecher than a nightingale. Ugh! And for the record Obama didn't call Palin a pig, he called mccain's policies a pig. But for the record I say Palin is a lying, clueless pig with a poor shade of lipstick. And Obama didn't call midwesterners bitter, he said they become bitter after the government has failed them, I on the other hand am bitter that morons like you still exist in our country. No wonder we are the laughingstock of the world.

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. CitizenAJ

    The republicans did nothing during their 6 year reign to curtail the disasterous outcome the country is in now. Of course, they and their supporters want to blame it on the NOW democratic lead House. Please! George Bush lied to the American people in order to win support to invade Iraq. Lied people! The real fight is STILL in Afghanistan! The American people can strongly send a message to our elected officials and that is by voting. I am glad to see they are ready and willing to send that message! Good riddance with all the lies, bad policies or good policies never pursued.

    September 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. terry rabun is so obviously biased towards the Dems. If you have read the front page everyday its always how bad it is for the Republicans.
    fair journalism? What a joke!

    September 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Republican voting for Obama/Biden

    Palin is a joke. How can the American People vote for McCain/Palin when they hide her and what McCain is saying is not worth listening to.

    The Repubican's are all out of touch. McCain hung the Republican Party out when he picked Palin without Vetting her.

    Do they think we are stupid?

    I can't wait to vote early on October 25th.

    September 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. mitchell

    mccain offering no solutions whatsoever. push thru bush's robbery of america! mcbush!

    September 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. FL4OB

    After the last eight years of Republican deregulation, lack of oversight, warmongering, and record-breaking deficits while in majority, who would vote for the same nonsense? As a former Republican, there is no way I could support that now.

    Eight is enough!

    Our country needs a positive, new direction.

    Democrats '08

    September 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Rick

    I'm voting Democrat because oil companies' 5% profit on a gallon of gas are obscene, but government taxes of 18% on the same gallon of gas are just fine.
    I'm voting Democrat because I believe three or four elitist liberals should rewrite the Constitution every few months to suit some fringe element that could never get their agenda past voters.

    September 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. independent hanging on by a thread in Texas

    Everything we have worked for all our lives, is now being lost one way or another, because we have to now also provide help to grown children and grown grandchildren so they TOO can hang on to their homes ..This is a sorry state of affairs now..we will continue to help our family any way we can, if it means eating beans every day for however long it takes to clean up this mess..and the only leader we see doing it now is shoulds be a firm NO to AIG bailout...let the "fat cats" who got America into this mess, give back the huge amounts of moiney they MADE doing this !!!! not us taxpayers, who are barely hanging in here and many arent...Obama has been wise to wait until he saw more about the plans to bail out AIG..he has also surrounded himself with many "wise" heads to advise him, thats shows good judgement...anyone can head an organization of any kind as long as he knows HOW to get the right people in office to help him, which OBAMA does...our votes must go to OBAMA now..

    September 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. linda from South Dakota

    wow i see some here are very angry,, theres no need for names and aqusations,,, again its been turned around and u heard this wrong,,, unless u are bias yourself,, my opinion is mccain lies and lies DO come around to bite you,,,,,, its true,, that we mareicans are asked to accept palin,, wel we know little about her expect she sure bowls her way in,, shes refused to testify,, she refused to talk with press for questioning,, why?? she obviously is hiding something, but little does she know that it will comeout,, we ,, americns arent stupid,,,, we haev learned that those liars from our past and present teach us, to know the truth,,,, and its been on tv,,cnn,, papers,, etc about mccains lies,, he never answers a question completely(like bush),, AMEN,, obama/biden08 now and beyond

    September 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Sarah

    Democrats will all win by a landslide in November. Finally, this country will be good again and we can be proud.

    September 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. NoMccain

    Yes we can. Determination, the will of the people, fighting adversity, believing in yourself and everyone else. Yes we can. Unity, the American dream. Yes we can. End corruption, and end global tyranny. Yes we can.


    O '08

    September 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Willie L

    PALIN – media protection....

    If Palin wants to help McCain elected as president, why is she afraid to face the media. Does she have not the capability to stand on her own two feet to face grllings by the media.

    If she wants to hold a public office, why is she afraid to face direct questions from media.

    What kind of Republican tactics is this?

    September 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. DR in So. Cali

    Michael, what do you know about collard greens?

    Obama in '08!

    September 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Tim

    Polls like this are absolutely meaningless....whether you favor the dems or repubs. 1020 were sampled! That represents an average of less than 3 people polled per district. It is likely that all districts weren't polled and thus more than three persons in any polled district were consulted...but that suggest that just a little gerrymandering in selecting the districs to poll leads to whatever outcome the pollster desired.

    B.S. again!

    September 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    I can't believe this report!!
    The congress is second in approval rating only to GW Bush.
    How in the world could any of them actually be considered for re-election?

    September 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. mayah


    September 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. darko

    How can anyone vote more democrats in? They've done NOTHING in the last two years but put forth frivolous, time wasting investigations against the bush administration.

    Instead of actually fixing things, they just lay blame and go on vacation.

    WHY HAS THERE BEEN NO INVESTIGATION INTO FREDDIE AND FANNIE? They investigate everything else under the sun, why not this?

    Why? Because Dodd and Barney Frank are the cause of it and freddie and fannie is the root cause of this entire debacle.

    September 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. milo

    It's ridiculous to blame the democratic congress when they have only had control for two years, and the republicans have either filibustered or vetoed everything they've put forward.

    That's exactly why we need Obama and an even more solid majority in congress.

    September 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is possible. The Democrats in the Senate need to pick up at least 5 seats. If they want to not have to worry about filabusters from Republicans, then they need at least 10. That is unlikely. You can always hope though.

    September 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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