Washington (CNN) - Despite the bruising battle over their health care reform proposals, congressional Democrats have maintained an advantage over their Republican counterparts on one key measure, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that a bare majority of Americans, 51 percent, believe that the Democrats' policies are good for the country, with 46 percent saying that those policies would take the country in the wrong direction.
By contrast, 53 percent of people questioned in the poll say that the GOP's polices would move the nation in the wrong direction, with 42 percent saying Republican policies are good for the country.
"The numbers for both parties are virtually unchanged since late August, just before President Barack Obama's health care speech to Congress opened the latest round of debate on this divisive issue," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Democrats will be defending their large majorities in Congress next year, when all 435 seats in the House and more than a third of the seats in the Senate are up for grabs.
"This advantage on policy could be an important edge for the Democrats heading into the 2010 midterm elections," adds Holland. "But independents will be the key to the midterms, and the numbers among independents spell bad news for both parties among that important group."
In an August survey, independent voters' views of GOP policies were evenly divided. But a majority of independents now say Republicans would move the country in the wrong direction. Nonetheless, the number of independents who dislike Democratic policies, now at 57 percent, is higher than the 52 percent who hold a negative view of Republican policies.
The survey suggests that Sen. Joe Lieberman is taking a hit in popularity due to his opposition to a major element in his party's bill. The independent lawmaker from Connecticut, who caucuses with the Democrats to give the party a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, threatened to undermine the bill unless compromises were made. Lieberman opposed the creation of a government-run public insurance option, and the expansion of Medicare to individuals as young as 55. Both of those proposals were dropped from the bill this month, enraging many liberals.
According to the poll, Lieberman's favorable rating has dropped 9 points, from 40 percent to 31 percent, from early December. His unfavorable rating has risen 6 points, from 28 percent to 34 percent.
"Lieberman's biggest decline - a 14-point drop - came among independents," Holland says. "Only Republicans continue to like Lieberman."
The survey also indicates that just one in five Americans trust the federal government always or most of the time, down 4 points from a year ago.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20, with 1,160 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Full results (pdf)
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Wow, congrats CNN, I always thought that Nutty Libs got their news from MSNBC, guess I was wrong. Could you be more of a Liberal mouth piece....ah strike that....I know you can. Where do Libertarians get their news? Both Dems and Repubs can jump off a bridge. They both suck equally.
I looked up the definition of an Obama Democrat. Right next to the definition was a picture of Karl Marx. Get it?
You Dems are like the Eloi in the Time Machine. You deserve to be eaten like the cattle you are.
Well, these people can pay the new TAXES. The rest of us will cheat on our taxes and not pay it.
The fact that a majority remains unswayed by the GOP's billion-dollar campaign of lies and smears, among the most ignorant and disconnected voting population in the industrialized world, is amazing and says volumes about the growing awareness that it is time we had government FOR the people, not in spite of them.
Since when, did the Rethuglicans have ANY policies?
I believe that the polic ies of the Democrat Party are leading the c ountry in the right direction. I look back at history and see that the Republican Party has been on the "No" side and not in a "leadership role" in the last 100 years (I'm 80 years old and have been studying this issue since high school (1942 – 1946). Joann Farris, Leawood, KS
Some people are fond of quoting the rule of "only the strongest survive". But that is the law of the jungle, and we live in a civilization. We do owe each other some measure of compassion.
There is just something delicious about how many Republicans in here can't spell the word poll correctly.
Better have Gretchen Carlson look it up for you on google.
Maybe after she can explain how our 37th ranked health care system is so much better than those higher ranked, nationalized systems.
You liberals are so funny. Obama and the Democrats are complete failures in managing our economy and in developing a real health care program. What is truly amazing is that you fools believe that the Democrats are moving this country forward.
Bend over, grab your ankles and brace yourself. The Democrats are coming in you. Suckers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WHY? For goodness' sake – WHAT is in this bill the anyone actually UNDERSTANDS? So you support it just because you're a Democrat and this bill is crafted by Democrats? THAT is your rationale? Well, if it is - YOU deserve all the destruction it will bring to your lives.
ABSOLUTE, OUTRIGHT LIES, CNN!! That is completely laughable! We know you are the mouth piece of the Socialis Liberal Comunists Dictators in Washington!!
Democrats are Sheep, nothing but sheep.
I would rather be a wolf than a sheep.
The Democrats have a plan, the Republicans don't have a plan or a clue.
We need a "reform" in government. I am no longer a democrat nor a republican. I am disappointed in Senator Landrieu. "Bull Pen" Mary went behind close doors and compromised herself and her vote. We need senators and congressmen that will work for a better method of distribution of taxpayers' money. I am not satisfied that all senators and congressmen do it. If Senator Landrieu voted for what she thought was right I could accept that. She was going to vote one way, but after going behind close doors she voted another way. I, together with many from Louisiana, cannot accept her explanation. Since she sold her vote, many others are doing the same thing. It is a disgrace to our country.
Before anyone believes this poll or any other poll by the government run media, they should look at the details of the poll.
"Interviews with 1,160 adult Americans, including an oversample
of African-Americans, conducted by telephone by Opinion
Research Corporation on December 16-20, 2009."
Way to stuff the ballot box with a minority group that generally has greater suppor of Democrat policies. Next time, run the poll with an oversample of small business owners and see if you get the same result.
I like how the critics of any spending bill act like that it's just THAT bill that will cause them to pay taxes until they die. I have news for that crew: YOU WILL ALWAYS PAY TAXES. Stop with the "burden on our children" argument. It's stupid.
I'm a fiscal conservative Republican and I support public option health insurance. I have seen the private sector solution where health care rises far faster than inflation. That is simply not a sustainable option. Yes, we have budget problems we have to worry about, but I believe having a healthy population is a long term investment that is worth the extra cost.
The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it.
I hope Lieberman gets smashed in in the next election. If I ran the DNC I would make sure we do not fund anyone of the bluedogs for reelection and find real progressive that want to move forward. I am sick of politicians that do just enough to keep getting money from lobbyist that will prevent them from being removed from office. They were put there by Americans to do what Americans want not what big business wants. I wish we could do recalls like they did in Ca.
Duh, that's a no brain-er!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There's a simple reason for this: Nobody knows what the GOP policies are, because the GOP isn't trying to solve any problems.
both parties, are one party, and it's not for the good of the country. we're all screwed.
HAHAHA, I love hearing all the democrats (most of CNN's viewership) comment on how great their ideas are! Did you happen to notice who conducted the poll? That's not exactly a good sample of America is it? Thanks for BELIEVING that you speak for America.
Lets see...the Democrats are doing the same war stuff as Bush but running up a deficit 4 times as large as Bush. Wrecking the healthcare system? Raising taxes? Abdicating policy making to Pelosi and Reed? In bed with trial lawyers and unions? I think that the democrats have been crazy and ruining the country. This is the worst President/Congress combo that I have ever seen. This independent voter is not voting for any Democrats for the next couple of elections.