December 23rd, 2009
09:08 PM ET
6 months ago

CNN Poll: More Americans think Democratic policies better than Republican

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


Filed under: CNN poll • Extra
soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    If Democrats can't pass a strong health care reform bill, they will hit the rock in 2010. If they can fulfill their promise, they will do fine next year.

    Today, more Democrats are richer than we thought and more Republicans are poorer than we believed. Many middle class Republicans who are anti-public option actually will be very sorry when they get laid off, but before they fall down to Medicaid and welfare. Isn't it cheaper to use Public Option to reduce the number of new beneficiaries for Medicaid and move current beneficiaries from Medicaid and welfare to the Middle class? Many Medicaid and welfare beneficiaries cannot afford to move out of it due to the lack of affordable health care coverage.

    December 23, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Michael in Orlando

    Dear Right Leaning Independant,

    I simply don't understand your criticism. Wasn't the last president to balance the budget President Clinton? Wasn't the last president to have a surplus President Clinton?

    Additionally wasn't it under Ronald Regan that our last unemployment numbers were so high? At the beginning of his term the numbers were low, this he had inherited from his predecessor and by the end of his eigth year. This isn't fanciful, all you need to do to verify this is to look under the Department of Labor Statistics or the Department of Labor.

    As to one of your comments regarding wanting a job or not wanting a job, I'll say this. Want an idiot, vote for a Republican, want someone intelligent and caring vote for a Democrat.

    December 23, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Chris - Boston

    You need to further breakdown healthcare polls. One chunk is against the entire bill, ie Republicans for their own political gain to not allow anything positive to happen from the Obama Administration. Another chunk who support the bill as is or believe it's a good first step. And another group who oppose the bill because it doesn't go far enough to help consumers such as a public option. So you can't sit here and say the majority of Americans oppose the bill. The simple matter of true polling and math is more than half the country supports the bill with some wanting more in the bill but are disappointed because Republicans have forced it to be watered down. The Republican approach, step by step, would have left families struggling for a decade before any true impact was felt, if any at all because their proposals were much too obscure in nature to bend the spiraling cost issue or discriminatory practices. So what the Obama administration has done is found compromise. And this administration and the next will have to continue to work with health care to improve it over decades, not a mere matter of months. So both the far left and the right need to wake the hell up and see what is right for the common good as a first step, and put their political ambitions aside. Far left liberals need to compromise and Republicans, well you are completely worthless and add no value at this point.

    December 23, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. The Root Word of Progressive is Progress

    Here come the TeaPublican comments about how CNN skews their polls because they're part of the "liberal" MSM! This poll doesn't surprise me one little bit. I really, for the life of me, cannot understand why any middle income American would favor the TeaPublican party! They are not, and haven't been for many, many years the party of "the people" unless your one of the wealthy people! Especially after the disasterous last 8 years of Bush/Cheney who did nothing but bring this country to it's knees!

    December 23, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. valwayne

    The Democrats have engaged in more corrupt spending, debt, and printed money than in the history o the world. Their answer to everything is throw a trillion dollars at it, and by the way if we thought the bridge to NoWhere was bad the Democrats are throwing around enough money for thousands of them. We have the 21st century Louisana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback and billions and billions more in corrupt earmarks and special interests spending. 2010 will be an interesting election year. Will the American people accept the permanent decline under the Democrats or kick them out and choose a path to restoration and renewal?

    December 23, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. russell

    Republican supporters seem to forget one thing , that their party is working for corporate America not for you , when was the last time a republican president left office and the country had a surplus of cash ?...NEVER , now what party does stuff for the betterment of America , the middle class and the poor .......democrats , you see the republican party with the Reagan mantra completely destroyed the middle class , but oh how we forget and is that what we want to go back to trickle down econmics , it hasn't worked and it will never will so keep putting your faith in the republican party because the writing on the wall is that obvious , they could care less about you and me !

    December 23, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Grog in Ohio

    "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 real story here is that 42% of those questioned must be suffering from amnesia over the previous presidential term.

    December 23, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Jeff from Atlanta

    If the republicans are the party of no, then the dimocrats must be the party of yes.

    Want something for free...yes
    Free healthcare...yes
    Handouts...yes
    Jobs...no, (oh yeah, that's a republican idea).
    Higher taxes to pay for all this...yes, but only for the hardworking people who have made something for themselves

    December 23, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Peter

    I'm so shocked that Republicans seriously believe the crap they are throwing...It's disturbing...

    Health care is a right, let's make all equal in coverage..

    December 23, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. The Root Word of Progressive is Progress

    @Right Leaning Independent December 23rd, 2009 12:25 pm ET

    I will be voting straight Republican next season! I want pro business folks in Washington

    Really??? Then please enlighten us all as to why, with Republicans in charge for the last 8 years, we were on the brink of another depression about a year ago? Did all of the jobs disappear the day President Obama took office???

    December 23, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Patty in California

    Well duh!!.....they couldn't be worse than the last 8 years!!

    December 23, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. michaelam

    Collectively, the GOP acts like a bunch of toddlers. Their favorite words are, "NO" and "MINE." Sadly, most GOPers are very well into their adult lives but continue the behavior of a bunch of children. Ever try to rationalize with one? Just like a toddler, when they know they are losing the debate, they resort to name calling...."Liberal, Socialist, Communist."

    Oh, and that trickle down theory that they so passionately embrace and spew? Another childish tactic.......a bunch of kids whizzing in a sandbox!

    December 23, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. gwen

    @Bob

    What more could have obama done??? He tried everything to get the republicans to get involved – it's always NO. For your information Bob, the house bill, which alot was carried over to the senate bill has about 125 republican amendments in it!!! Know your facts before you post and what was done in secret ? Every move the democrats made was in the press – even the so called back room deals (and get over it, this has gone on forever with both repub and dems!) The republicans have no good ideas – unless your white and rich and they cut your taxes.

    December 23, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. The Root Word of Progressive is Progress

    @Right Leaning Independent December 23rd, 2009 12:31 pm ET

    Dems have controlled congress for 3 years and bear responsibility for a lot of the problems of today

    For the first two of those three years, while Democrats had a small majority in congress, it was not enough of a majority to stop the filibustering by Republicans for EVERY piece of legislation that the Democrats tried to pass. Even then the Rs were all about OBSTRUCTION just like they have been this year. Secondly, the very few pieces of Democratic bills that did manage to pass were VETOED by GWB! Stop trying to rewrite history, will you!

    December 23, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. William from Illinois

    What do you people expect. Of course people are against the health care bill. Conservative activists and Large insurance companies have spent Millions of dollars scaring the hell out of peple for the past several months. It just proves if you spend enough money spreading lies about "death panels" it is bound to have some effect. OMG the sky if falling because 31 million more americans will have health insurance. And Republican policy #1 attack Obama, demonize him, demonize liberals, and generally spread hatred to your fellow Americans. And for those of you who "want your country back". IT IS NOT YOUR COUNTRY. IT IS OUR COUNTY. GET OVER YOURSELF!

    December 23, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. hamburgler

    All I know from the 20 some odd years I have been voting is that things get done under democrats and the future seems brighter. When the republicans are in power, I feel like the doomsday clock starts ticking again and the world is about to be destroyed by some knucklehead.

    December 23, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Scott, Tucson

    This poll by CNN in favor of the democrats...LOL! 2010 would be the deciding factor on just how the American people feels about the likes of Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, Frank, Dodd and the rest of the crooks.

    December 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Michael in Orlando

    Correction,

    By the end of President Regan's 2nd or 3rd year the unemployment rate was 10.5, higher than today. Sorry about saying it was at the end of his 8th year.

    December 23, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Chris adam

    Thats a start

    December 23, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Joe.......Bedtime 4 Bonzo

    Only 22% of the Country is Republican. If you think it's 65%.....I've got some swamp land in Florida to sell you. The only persons against Health care Insurance reform are the Republican base. And when you add the public option or expanded medi-care in the bill....support goes up to 70% Nation wide. Dream on...............

    December 23, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. libs are funny little critters

    Considering Pelosi and Reid have been ruining the country since 2007, that 51% of people who think Democratic policies are better are either enjoying the 10% unemployment or are just stupid.

    December 23, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. jane

    Democratic policies ARE better than Republican policies. But I would wager that few Americans like the backroom deals that both Republican and Democratic Congresses make with senators in order to get their votes. This is not the "change we can believe in" that voters responded to strongly in the Presidential election. We don't like it from either party, and one of the good things that may be coming from the pending legislation is the beginning of the end of tolerating such bribery.

    December 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. sensible Cape Coral FL

    All Republicans must be so "Proud " of themselves. The same arguments used against Medicare are being used now against the Health Care Bill. How many of those same Reepublicans are prepared to give up their Medicare. benefits? Hypocrisy, thy name is Republicanism.

    December 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. catmomtx

    Right Leaning Independent: will be voting straight Republican next season! I want pro business folks in Washington. Businesses create jobs and all the Dems seem to want to do is tax them to extinction and bad mouth them for trying to be profitable. Business men and women understand that you need a positive cash flow to stay in business whereas the Dems believe in spending money that they do not have and creating greater debt for our country!

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Okay, so where are all the jobs that were supposed to come from the Bush tax cuts? Did they ever happen? Of course It's interesting to cut taxes while fighting two wars. How are those wars being paid for? Talk about spending money they do not have. How do you cut taxes in the middle of fighting two wars?

    Business men and women believe in the bottom line. They want to make money period. They want to make more money than anyone else. Because of that, they move their businesses out of the country, they don't hire Americans. They go to countries where they don't have to pay health care and a decent wage. They take their tax cuts and buy more mega mansions, mega gas guzzlers, designer dogs, clothes and toys. AND, they hide their money and use tax shelters to avoid paying their fare share of taxes. That's what they do. Where are the jobs that were suppose to come from the Bush tax cuts?

    December 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Seriously, Left

    Liiberals will get theirs next November (less than a year now!). Predicted ousters – Reid, Dodd, Lincoln, Landrieu, Specter, Nelson of FL, Nelson of Nebraska......I'm sure there might be a couple more.

    December 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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