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. aa

    hahaha... Dems will take over more seats trust me.. Republican have nothing to offer more to damage.

    November 3, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Mike in LR

    Too much can happen between now and 2012. Any poll taken now is meaningless, but sells papers and creates internet traffic.

    If things continue to go as they are now we'll see another '94 conservative revolution. Try as he might BO cannot blame Bush for the economy any longer. He has dipped his own hands into the clay and it's his creation now. BO's war (Afghanistan) will be another failure of his administration. And if he doesn't quit the out of control spending the dollar will collapse, inflation will run rampant, and he'll end up the black Jimmy Carter.

    November 3, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. marc

    It is not as much for Democrats as to let them try to fix the mess left by the republicans. Angry white people is right. They should be angry at them (republicans) for the mess we are in, instead, the tea baggers and Rush-ites want more of the same. What a sorry state of affairs. Anger, Yep at them for their Taliban like ideas. Go move to Afghanistan and live in a cave like Bin Laden and his cronies.

    November 3, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Dar

    It isn't that the rebublicans in goverment are scracing their way back into the lime light. It is the people of America that want CHANGE and we are going to get rid of the trash that is now trying to transform our country into something that is not to our liking. We dont need goverment to be spending money like it's going out of style. But with the cogress and senate that we have in office right now, it isn't going to slow down but only get worse if we dont start getting rid of the trash right now. This is what is happening today, the start of Americans taking back our country.

    November 3, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. GOP = "I hope he fails"

    All of you "vote against incumbent" fools don't get it. Nothing is getting done because the rethugs are blocking everything. If you vote out all the imcubents, that would be a huge win for the very people who are causing the problem. You would be validating their behavior.

    This is sinceless. There is an idependent ideology that is just as rigid and blind as either party.

    November 3, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. tee

    Correct me if I'm wrong.....aren't we still under the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% and big companies?........why arent the providing job....are their profits down?......could it be that they killed the middle class.

    November 3, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Brown

    Everybody need to go, none of them support or uphold the Constitution.
    We need to reduce the size and get rid of the red tape, wasted hours watching grown people having school ground fights, at the risk of taxpayers. What was intended is so far from what has evolved, Lobbist and Corporations currently run the Government with money, favors. All the Agencies this year exposed the money influence, in all areas. When officials can write tax law and completely avoid paying Taxes or declaring personal assets. If it were us the IRS would not need a ruling from the ethics commitee... To date nothing has been done, that is a sad state.
    I am still hoping for a sign of Accountability.

    November 3, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Mickey, NY

    They took your job away.
    They took your house away.
    They took your money away.
    They took your early retirement away.
    They took thousands of your young soldiers away.
    They took your respect away.
    They took your future away…

    And you would still vote Republican?

    It's hard for people who believe in true democracy to understand.

    If a foreign country had done this to you, you would have declared WAR on them…

    November 3, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. hoofandpick

    I agree with CG and the lonely libertarian of Liverpool New York. We desperately need REAL campaign finance reform. Members of Congress should only be able to collect campaign contributions from American citizens. Limited free TV slots should be given to each candidate and debates should include ALL candidates. After all, this is America. I have been to all of the senate and house buildings. The number of lobbyists fill every lobby and hallway on every floor. The lobbyists are like locusts descending on every member of Congress and staffer alike. Members of Congress are held hostage to the special interest groups and lobbyists. The lobbyists and special interest groups that command huge amounts of money are negatively impacting America and the lives of Americans. It is time to kick the bums out.

    November 3, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. von

    Both parties have failed us. The two party system is on the way out to make room for politicians that represent what the people want, not coke or boeing or halliburton.

    November 3, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Ron

    Every stinking one of them needs to be thrown out. We need to start with fresh blood, fresh ideas, people that will fight for America and believe in America, regardless of party. Just say no to incumbants.

    November 3, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom

    GOP does not want to live in reality. They believe their own lies. But Americans are a fair people, we are sick and tired of the GOP's politics!

    GOP politics:

    Pits one American against another. Dividing our Nation!

    Scares Seniors by spewing lies about Healthcare with "death panels" and taking away their Medicare. BTW Republicans fought AGAINST Medicare! They called it, socialism!

    GOP's mouthpieces like Hannity, Limbaugh, Faux News, Coulter, etc., etc. incite hate. Why would anyone want these thugs in power again?

    The GOP controlled the Congress from January 1995 through January 2007 (when the Democrats won a narrow majority). And a GOP president ruled our Nation for the last ........ 8 years........ HOW WAS THAT WORKING FOR YOU AMERICA?

    November 3, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Suzan

    The looks on the faces of the ANGRY far right wing conservatives in some of the pictures is enough to turn off any one whether they are republican, demorcrats, or independents......the Birthers, Tea Baggers, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, the likes of Wilson and Palin........this is what the GOP has turned into and this is what will bring their party down....The lack of intelligence in Palin and yet she has this faithful following of the far right wing that lacks just as much intelligence as her if not more..........

    November 3, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. PREDICTA

    Conservatism is coming back in a big way. The stage is set to oust Obama and the Democrats. If job losses continues and inflation kicks starts to climb due to the money the treasury will have to print to satisfy the 500 M per day interest payments to China, I predict a repeat of 1994.

    November 3, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. ya

    To bad the people that make a difference are to busy working and taking care of their kids to vote. It would be nice if everyone had the day off to vote.

    November 3, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Larry Maestas

    One year to change eight. I hope the American people will be patient and let the present administration run its course. I know its going to be tuff when the republicans show contemp and disrespect and act like sheep and unamerican.

    November 3, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. lila

    If Congress can get a health care bill passed and be working on a climate bill around the 2010 election... they will not have much of a problem getting elected again. The youth is very engaged when it comes to climate change. They will come out to vote for democrats if a serious climate bill is at stake. The youth are not fired up about healthcare the way they are about climate change. The tide will turn heavy for democrats when climate change legislation is at the forefront. The republicans can huff and puff about cost.. but oil is running out and in a very short time we will be looking at $10 a gallon gas if we don't get a climate bill in the works... along side green energy research funding.

    November 3, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. ICARE

    I love to own a magic wand and change Congress overnight, but I feel like it is just impossible.

    For now, I will be happy if the DUMMYCRATS are allowed to be the majority in Congress. They CANNOT harm us. Over the course of history, that party has never EVER hurt America.

    With the REPUBLI CON, there are horror stories that haunt us to this day. I dont know what to make of them, but we do need them to SCARE jerks like Saddam Hussein, Putin and the rest of the beast out there.

    I dont know. I think we need more Independent candidate. But right now, we NEED to grow out of this recession/depression and SPEND LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY in research/green energy and innovative developments. It is th ething to do.

    WE NEED NOT BE AFRAID TO SPEND ON GROWING JOBS... It is the right thing to do. I hope for the next few years, Obama ties himself to the best economists out there (Nobel Peace Prize only)...

    November 3, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    Republicans keep imagining that the entire world's against them.

    Republicans imagine that in the end they're the ones that are "right."

    Reality shows the fact that the vast majority of Americans do not hold the Republican's view of the world.

    The other reality is that Democrats have not realized that Republicans/Conservatives will complain the loudest and start to win elections through scapegoating techinques utilized in Germany in the 1930s. The parallels are clear as day.

    November 3, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Sniffit

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

    What the heck does that even mean? Why don't you just give us the godforsaken sampling error and stop playing games? Afraid some of us out here actually understand statistics and the meaning of things like, "n – 1", standard deviation, chi squared, etc.?

    November 3, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    W is now a motivational speaker. Boner (from Ohio) is an orange man on tv every two hours. Grasssley is a snake.

    I've been motivated to switch from R to D and will NEVER switch back. The republicans have become the party of lies, fear, hate, fear, lies, fear - you get the message.

    Just look at Foxx from NC (nutcase in senior citizens clothes).

    Vote every republican out. If they are not in DC, they can't stop progress.

    November 3, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Reaganomics Leads To Feudalism

    If you believe that America should have a middle class, vote for the Democrat.

    If you believe that America should be a rich/poor feudalist society, with NO middle class, vote for the Republican.

    November 3, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  23. Padraig

    Hopefully what has occured over the past 8+ years (8 years of Bush and 10 months of Obama) has finally got the American people more involved in how the government works. Both the Republicans and Democrats have been leading us astray for many years. Bush left the country in disarray and 1 trillion dollars in debt. Obama within less than a year has use taken us to almost 12 trillion in debt (10x more). Our currency and our business infrastructure is severly damaged. The Presidents receive the blame but our House and Senate pushed the dirty work.

    All I can say is get out and vote. It is a priveledge that everyone should take and utilize.

    November 3, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. Ndubueze Chuku

    Why is CNN so interested in polls that may will put Democrats down? ANy poll that kind of puts DEMs in a tight run, CNN seems to enjoy that and they splatter it all over their website. CNN is beginning to stink like FOX News. Beware!!

    November 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. monster zero

    The Democrats are going to lose in 2010 and in 2012 big time, it is inevitable. America has now remembered what one party Democratic dominance results in, TAXES and CHAOS! All those minority sheep that ate the bread of Change and Hope are now beginning to see that they themselves will have to pay for what they receive. Can you see the Cap and Tax 20% cost increases on a minimum wage salary family, ahhh, I can smell the poverty already. The Liberal has a narcissistic belief in their own intellectual superiority that forces them to suppress all those in opposition to their individual agendas and egos, even on common agendas propagated from within their own party. That is why they will FAIL, they cannot help themselves, it is their nature. They are a cancer on our society that consumes itself, we can only hope them a quick and excruciatingly painful death.

    November 3, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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