November 3rd, 2009
03:59 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans divided in battle for Congress

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that Americans are divided over whether they'd vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that Americans are divided over whether they'd vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – With a year to go before midterm congressional elections, a new national poll indicates that Americans are divided over whether they'd vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district.

Fifty percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they would vote for the Democratic candidate if the election for the House of Represenatives were held today, with 44 percent saying they'd back the Republican candidate. Five percent say they'd vote for neither major party candidate and 2 percent are undecided.

The 6-point advantage for the Democrats is at the edge of the poll's sampling error.

Other organizations' surveys conducted over the past two months also suggest a division among Americans when it comes to the generic ballot question, which asks a respondent if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates.

Next November, all 435 seats in the House and more than a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrats currently hold a 79-seat margin in the House of Representatives, with two seats vacant, and a 20 seat margin in the Senate.


According to the poll, Americans are also divided on whether they have made up their minds regarding the 2010 midterm contests, with 49 percent saying their minds are made up and 45 percent saying they could change their choice.

The survey also indicates that 46 percent of Republicans say they're enthusiastic about voting next year, with 39 percent of Democrats saying they're energized.

"When Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. House square of a year from now, they may face a very different electorate than the one that put Barack Obama in power a year ago," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2008, Democratic voters were generally more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans; now it's the GOP's turn to benefit from an enthusiasm gap."

But President Barack Obama, unlike Bill Clinton in 1994, currently appears to give Democratic candidates an advantage: The survey suggests that most registered voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports Obama. Four in 10 are say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes Obama.

"Historically, these tea leaves are very hard to read," adds Holland. Democrats and Republicans had virtually the same numbers a year before the 1994 midterm elections that put the GOP in power, he says, but the two parties also had roughly the same strength a year before the 2006 midterms that put the Democrats back in the saddle on Capitol Hill. "Add to that the fact that nearly half of all voters say they could change their minds between now and election day, 2010, and it's clear that any prediction would be futile," says Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 30-November 1, with 952 registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Full results (pdf)

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: CNN poll • Congress
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. D.

    As spending and other change nonsense continues democrats will lose their support and democrat party supporting media will keep on losing their public too. This is a natural reaction to very reactionary and overly activist government, supported by puppet media!

    November 3, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. S M R

    It's very simple, The Democrats need to hold control of Congress, the Senate and the White House or WE are in DEEP DODO.

    November 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Zap

    Wow! You guys have no memory whatsoever. The spending was the Republicans for 8 looong years. It takes a democrat to solve the deficit. Republicans take the surplus and start a war with it. You settle for little government domestically yet rain our big government on foreign countries.
    Proven in history over and over, Democrats solve domestic problems, Republicans cause foreign problems. Never will you ever see a republican administration solve anything domestic. You guys kill me, we elected democratic to solve domestic issues, yet, give no time at all to fix 8 years of screw ups. All it is in a nut shell, republicans are voted in to fight wars, democrats are voted in to fight the abuse of big business.

    November 3, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Ancient Texan

    Some people call themselves Republicans, some Conservatives, others independents. And then, there's the party of "I've had enough of this Liberal Garbage". They will all band togother in 2010 and change the makeup of the Congress and Senate to the point Obama's agenda will unable to move any further to the far left. Then in 2012 sanity will return to Washington.

    November 3, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. cm

    Did you not read that the repubs are already boycotting anything to do with climate control. They are so into self and stupid that they can not realize or want to believe that anything this administration wants to achieve is to their benefit. They would stand to lose from their lobbyist. That is why they have fought the health care like they have and have their leaders, Rush, Beck, SP and the tea partiers do their dirty work for them. When Hoffman stated that he would follow Beck's rules and lead accordingly ; that should have told people that this is a dominioncist movement; and a rocky ride.

    November 3, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Oh Boo...Hoo! Here We Go Again, HypocriCNN With Its Poll Theory Applications. Some 900-1100 People Called On In A Poll By A Landline Phone, Living Who Knows Where Cannot And Does Not Speak For Me Nor The Entire Countries Interests. These Polls Are Proposterous And Only Fills HypocriCNN's Talking Points.

    November 3, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. Wisdom

    The sheer lack of knowledge, intellect, wisdom and a glimmer of recognition for reality by the Warpublicans and Teabaggers in this nation (and thread) is laughable.

    We are suffering great damages brought about 100% by the same failed Warpublican policies under the historically recorded, world-wide agreed worst President in US history, George Bush.

    If Warpublicans regain control, America has died, and war must be waged against those in our society trying to destroy the nation from what we stand for- if you don't know, listen to the right-wing propagandists, and know we stand for the exact opposite.

    November 3, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  8. steve

    both parties are horrible now. the democrats are all turning into far-left liberals that will destroy everything this country stands for, and the republicans are sticking to thier relgious side in which most americans do not want. we need someone who is right down the middle of the two. both sides have good points and beliefs, it's just that right now they are both at the extremes. so, both parties stink, plain and simple. although liberals are doing more to destroy what america stands for.

    November 3, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  9. normajean

    I"d be wlling to bet good money that when the dust settles on these current races that the Repubs will come up short. Will they realize "why', HECK NO. they couldn't see what trouble they are in if it were tattooed to their forheads.They are too busy remembering how to say "NO".

    November 3, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Let's borrow from Rubio in response to this: "Get the picture?"

    Yet another loss for the GOP in its neverending war with irony. Seriously, to use a pic of Obama and Crist behaving cordially all while yelling and screaming that the Dems in Congress won't behave in a bipartisan manner? Who here doesn't see the irony? It's anathema to shake Obama's hand, but the Dems darn well better let you at the table to regurgitate the same tired, disproven, rejected ideological mumbo-jumbo you've been spewing for several decades...and you won't consider it bipartisan unless they adopt all of it...AGAIN...after history and all empirical evidence shows that it's failed us all so miserably?

    Irony 1,00,463: GOP 0

    November 3, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Proud Member..Party of No

    Typical CNN poll.....now here's the truth:

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

    Voters not affiliated with either party continue to heavily favor Republicans, 39% to 23%.

    November 3, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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