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. Ruth -Az

    What ever happened to balance. It is to bad we can't have a balance in the congress. To many dems or reps., is always a disaster for the voters, just waiting to happen. I think I might still be voting for Hillary for Pres.

    September 23, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. arun

    Willy Brown September 23rd, 2008 4:28 pm ET

    Another step toward socialist rule.

    -------------------------------

    What do you think the bailout is ? A celebration of capitalism ? The capitalism temple has been raided and now lies bare. All its high priests have taken out their begging bowls and lined up at the government office.

    It is time to remove all republicans from power everywhere.

    September 23, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Sarah

    WHEY MORE DEMS THEN REPUBS ON THIS BLOG. LOOKS LIKE EVERYONE WILL BE DOING THE RIGHT THING AND VOTING FOR OBABMA.

    September 23, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Indie Thinker

    So long Lieberman!

    September 23, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. mitchell

    republicans are the cause of all of this mess. make them pay voters!!!!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Lisa T

    Enough with the "Dems are Socialists comments"...this Republican administration just proposed the biggest socialist policy/plan in US history!

    September 23, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. john

    Whats wrong with you people thats the trouble now more than half the congress is democrats thats what brought us to this situation ....... their the majority vote if they weren't maybe we wouldn't be in this mess

    September 23, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Give me Answers

    In NC Dole will NOT get my vote!! Dole has done NOTHING for the state of NC...it's about the person and NOT the party!!

    September 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. david

    if every democrat won their state senate seat by one point. It wouldnt matter if they had a 51% or 99% vote. They would still have 100% of the seats.

    The dems are going to crush the republicans finally and get the country back on track!

    Say no to the party of deregulation, party of lies, party of pandering, party of no compromise!

    get rid of republicans!

    September 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. FL4OB

    While in minority, these same Republicans have created record-breaking filibusters of ANY Congress in history. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Again, eight is enough.

    September 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Patrick, Fairfield, CA

    Oh and here is my opinion on Palin's meeting with the Afghan Leader:

    This is such a joke that it's not even funny anymore. Yesterday, Wolf Blitzer stated in the situation room that Sarah Palin was getting a crash course in foreign policy tomorrow. Today she has. The very comment about her getting a "crash course." is troubling. Does America want to have a VP in the White house who needs to bone up on foreign affairs just 47 days before a general election? Come on!

    It's no wonder why McCain wanted to keep reporters out of the meeting! He knows that she does not know what the heck is going on around the world other than getting snippets off CNN world news! The dumb-ing down of America was in full effect today!

    September 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. becky

    Thank God the Democrats started questioning this immediately! Who are the Republicans and John McCain kidding? John McCain must be sore from all the flip-flopping he has been doing!

    September 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. LA Hispanic Conservative Female

    McCain is the only one who really cares about the latin community. Obama CANNOT be trusted, he is liberal who is afraid to reveal who he is really about, he refuses to take a stand on anyting – and he wont be able to help any poor people - is it really patriotic to pay more taxes? Hello, Biden barely gives to charity (what a hypocrite), I give more than he does (and I make alot less than him), what a SHAME. Conservatives by far give more money to charity.

    September 23, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. VS

    A BIG VICTORY IN NOVEMBER FOR McCAIN/PALIN-2008. This country needs to be protected from some very wicked people; the President needs to know how to do this. As far as the economy, this has been out of line for years during the Clinton, Bush, and Bush, the U.S. congress both democrats and republicans have set up there in the capitol and squabbled for years. They have not worked for the people of this country. The President sits in the White House waiting for them to back up the consitiution of the U>S>. This situation can not be blamed on one person, one party, but all–all–have been involved in the stagment of the govenment. When did exports start going out more than imports? Tell the truth, and why do you hate women who has a brain and does not mind you knowing about it? Get real or is the body all you are concerned in a woman? "Straight Talk", the American are not dumb, and we want to make decisions where our children go to school and we want to be in controll of our lives, and to make decisions for ourselves rather the government giving up a limited amount of toilet paper to use during the day. You may want socialism, not me! What are you afraid of?

    September 23, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Mark

    Hard to believe that the Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress the last two years and yet people want to blame the Republicans. I guess the Democrats have just done a better job of lying.

    September 23, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. OJFL

    A democratic president with huge spending ideals, labor agreements and entitlement aspirations in a filibuster proof Congress. Not sure it will work out...

    September 23, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Chuck

    The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square –

    Oh my Nightingale. You sure are bitter. Maybe Obama was right when he said people get bitter. You certainly are provijng him right. But rather than turning to your religion or guns it appears you have turned to a sharp and nasty tongue. A bitter sharped tongue nasty female. Oh my, what could be worse?

    So Biden and Obama called women pigs. Scratching my head here as I don't recall either one calling women pigs. Now if you were referring to McCain who has called his wife a c- and who picks a female to be his running mate in order to "use" her, then I would think that McCain might be closer to thinking women are pigs than either Biden or Obama.

    Talk about using labels. You state you are patriotic and infer others who may not pay taxes unpatriotic. So you use labels too don't you?

    No need to go on here. Can't discuss anything using common sense or objectivity with a patriotic sharped tongue nasty female. Take some time off Nightingale. My goodness you need it.

    September 23, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. VS

    A BIG VICTORY IN NOVEMBER FOR McCAIN/PALIN-2008. This country needs to be protected from some very wicked people; the President needs to know how to do this. As far as the economy, this has been out of line for years during the Clinton, Bush, and Bush, the U.S. congress both democrats and republicans have set up there in the capitol and squabbled for years. They have not worked for the people of this country. The President sits in the White House waiting for them to back up the consitiution of the U>S>. This situation can not be blamed on one person, one party, but all–all–have been involved in the stagment of the govenment. When did exports start going out more than imports? Tell the truth, and why do you hate women who has a brain and does not mind you knowing about it? Get real or is the body all you are concerned about in a woman? "Straight Talk", the American are not dumb, and we want to make decisions where our children go to school and we want to be in controll of our lives, and to make decisions for ourselves rather the government giving up a limited amount of toilet paper to use during the day. You may want socialism, not me! What are you afraid of?

    September 23, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. No way, no how, no McCain!

    Praise God - my country has awoken!

    September 23, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Raj

    When is Right wing Talk Radio hosts like Rush, Hannity be held accountable for their support of Bush administration. They have been the cheer leaders for getting him elected and reelected.

    In a way i feel they should be help accountable for the failure of this administration.

    Similarly Keith Olberman , Chris Matthews, Cambell Brown should be help accountable for their biased reporting and open support obama

    September 23, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Annie

    Debby, do yourself and all of us a favor, please. Google veto proof majority and filibuster. The do nothing congress is doing nothing because they can't, not because they won't. Every time I read these posts I come across someone who obviously doesn't know how congress works. Yet, they get to vote. Educate yourself, please.

    September 23, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. breal

    The problem we've had for the last eight years has blame on both sides. While Bush has been president, his real failure is in his inability to work with democrats who have blocked most of what he has tried to do through filibustering. Democrats share the blame here, especially their role in Fannie/Freddie which are the root causes of the financial crisis. The best intentions of trying to get people into housing who can't really afford it has failed – those are democrat policies, and when McCain tried in 2005 to address it he was blocked, by democrats. Meanwhile, Dodd, Obama, and other democrats (primarily) have gotten rich off of Freddie and Fannie.

    Real change will come from voting for McCain/Palin. They have the record of working against all involved, both their own party and the other. Obama's idea of change will simply be more democrat policies, like Fannie/Freddie and running on "change" platform and then selecting a VP who has been in the Senate longer than the person he is running against. There is no change there, only more of the same partisanship that has gotten us into this mess.

    September 23, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. darko

    It's never good to have a super majority along with the white house.

    Republican or Democrat majority is bad...there are no checks to stop the extremest in each party from forcing everything through.

    History has shown this time and time again.

    I believe that we will have a GOP white house with a DEM congress. History also shows that voters favor this also.

    September 23, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Steve

    It was Congress that caused this mess. In fact it was the Democrats who blocked the reform that probably would have avoided this to begin with. Who is going to be brave enough in the media to report that? My guess, no major network.

    September 23, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. jodie

    “The national narrative has been about Obama as a change agent and reformer.

    Here in Chicago we know better. Obama says nothing about reform. Nor does he stand up to challenge the corrupt power structure here. In fact, he embraces it.”

    September 23, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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