WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was one of John McCain's closing arguments: "We're getting a glimpse of what one-party rule would look like under Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. Apparently it starts with lowering our defenses and raising our taxes," the Republican presidential nominee said repeatedly on the campaign trail in the final weeks leading up to Election Day.
But a new national poll suggests why a majority of voters didn't seem to buy that argument, as Barack Obama beat McCain in the presidential election and the Democrats made major gains in both the House, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate, under Majority Leader Harry Reid.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Tuesday, 59 percent of those questioned said Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, compared with 38 percent saying such one-party control will be bad.
"That much good will from the public opens a window of opportunity for the Democrats," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the public expects results, and may not listen to excuses for very long if a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House can't get their act together in time."
The poll also indicates that the public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, with 62 percent saying they have a favorable opinion and 31 percent an unfavorable opinion of the party. For the Republicans, a majority, 54 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of the GOP while 38 percent hold a positive view.
"The public has a positive view of the Democratic Party while the GOP 'brand' is hurting," Holland said. "Overall views of the Democratic Party have gone from 53 percent favorable in October to 62 percent favorable now; the GOP overall has seen a 5-point drop in its favorable rating."
The 62 percent figure is the "the highest opinion of the Democrats in at least 16 years, since before Bill Clinton got elected," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
"When has the Republican Party image ever been that bad? Answer: When the Republican Congress impeached President Clinton at the end of 1998," he added.
The poll indicates the public is split regarding the top Democrats in Congress. And that's an improvement.
"Democratic congressional leaders, much maligned this fall, have also seen a boost in their approval rating," Holland said. "Nearly half of those polled now approve of how congressional Democrats are handling their job, up from just a third who felt that way a month ago."
Schneider added, "Same thing happens when you ask them about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Good-bad, 50-50, among voters who even know who they are."
It's a different story for the GOP, with just 24 percent approving of how Republican leaders are handling their jobs and nearly three in four disapproving.
But that doesn't mean the public wants to see the GOP shut out of government. Seven out of eight want the Democrats to include Republican views in any legislation they pass.
"What about those times, and they will occur, when Barack Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress disagree," asked Holland. "The public is likely to side with Obama: 59 percent say they are more likely to trust him than the congressional Democrats."
With Senate contests in Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota still unresolved, the Democrats have increased from 51 to 57 seats in the 100-seat chamber. That includes two independent senators, Joe Lieberman and Bernie Saunders, who caucus with the Democrats.
In the House of Representatives, the Democrats have picked up 20 seats, reaching 255, with six out of 435 races still undecided.
"There's an opening here for a new Democratic majority. But it's just that, an opening," Schneider said. "It all depends on how President Obama does. And whether he can overcome the red-blue divide in the country - something neither of the baby-boomer presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, could do."
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, with 1,246 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.