January 15th, 2010
07:05 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Big dip in enthusiasm among Democratic voters

Washington (CNN) - Democrats face a growing enthusiasm gap in this year's battle for Congress, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates Americans are split in their choice for Congress in November's midterm elections, with Republicans making gains at the Democrats' expense.

Forty-nine percent of Republicans questioned in the poll say they're extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year, up 6 points from November. Thirty-one percent of Democrats say they're enthusiastic, down 11 points.

"Democrats face a huge 'enthusiasm gap,' and that gap is growing," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the poll indicates that roughly half of all registered voters may change their minds between now and Election Day, so there is plenty of time for the playing field to change."


According to the survey, 48 percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Republican candidate for Congress, with 45 percent saying they'd back the Democrat. The 3-point edge for the GOP is within the poll's sampling error - but it's a switch from November, when the Democrats held a 50 to 44 percent advantage. The generic ballot question asked respondents if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates.

"That 3-point difference doesn't sound too bad for the Democrats, but the party's numbers are boosted by high levels of support in districts that the GOP has no chance of winning this year," says Holland. "In safe Democratic districts, the Dems have a 21-point advantage over the GOP."

The poll paints a different picture in more competitive districts, those where the incumbent won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. In those districts, the poll indicates Democrats are currently facing a 27-point deficit, with 59 percent of registered voters in the competitive districts now saying they would vote for the Republican candidate for U.S. House if the election were held tomorrow, and only 32 percent that they would choose the Democratic candidate.

"That suggests big losses for the Democrats this November. But keep in mind that there is a lot of white noise in the data, because it is almost impossible to accurately model individual House districts," adds Holland.

The poll indicates that 2010 is shaping up to be a bad year for incumbents regardless of party. Just a third of all Americans say they would prefer to vote for an incumbent this year than a challenger, with 46 percent saying they would rather vote for the challenger and one in five adding that it makes no difference.

"Those numbers are roughly the same as they were at the start of 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House. Challengers are seen as more honest than incumbents, more likely to bring change, and more likely to represent the views of the voters," says Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 8-10, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Democrats currently hold a 256-178 advantage in the House of Representatives, with one seat formerly held by the Democrats vacant. The GOP needs to win back 40 House seats in November to regain control of the chamber.

Full results (pdf)

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: 2010 • CNN poll • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Albo58

    After the unmitigated disaster of the last year it's not too difficult to figure out what's killing the ethusiasm! Here's a clue: an inept President and Congressional leaders!

    January 15, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. annie against biased news

    As a registered democrat a lot of us are simply hanging our heads in shame at the total destruction that is being applied to our country. From the far-left liberal loonies to the socialist so-called president. It sickens our hearts more so than the republicans.

    January 15, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. boopsie from Mn.

    I did not vote for Obama but if I would have I would be livid. His campaign promises of no pork, no lobbyists, all bills online to read, transparency (like to laughable White house visitors list),not to mention his affiliates in Chicago are blantant out right lies. I recently read that his illegal immigrant Aunt who was discovered living in Section 8 housing has now been granted legal status and is still living in subsidized housing. I am mad as hell, can't wait to vote and try to do my part to save this great Nation that was founded on Christianity, morality and freedom, not the facism being forced on us by our current leaders.

    January 15, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. WasteNot

    While the Dems criticize all things big money, let's reflect.
    The Chrysler and GM CEOs got bashed for getting taxpayer money while flying their small little jets.
    The Obama family of four fly a B747 with 2 C17's to carry their motorcade to Hawaii for vacation, and Pelosi and Reid fly all over in B757's with two flight attendants for each occupant.
    Thats about 100,000 pounds of fuel in each direction for the B747 alone. (25,000 pounds of fuel for each Obama family member)
    Talk about green house gases and waste!!
    Yes. This is indeed the party that watches out for the taxpayer – NOT.

    January 15, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Michael

    I cannot and will not vote for a single Republican. I hold them and those who support their obstructionist policies in great disdain. I see no humanity, compassion or empathy from that bunch of inhumane people. The type of attitude, lack of the above mentioned human traits has impoverished and cursed the advancement of mankind since creation. If it was up to them the world would be flat, science would be the devils work, illness would be Gods curse for being wicked and the universe would still be rotating around the earth. The advances of man was not because of those in these so called conservative class but in spite of them. I believe the American People are tired of the stone walling by the Republican Party and will vote accordingly, if not it definitely will be a big step backwards for us and mankind.

    January 15, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Mad Mike

    The country was in very good shape until the Dems took control of Congress in 2007.
    You can cry about Bush all you want but the HARD economic numbers prove it.
    BTW... It was Bill Clinton, until the end of his administration, who said Sadam had WMDs and that he had to be eliminated

    January 15, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Why Bother?

    When policy is made by backroom billion dollar bribes (at taxpayer expense, I might add), and the only thing that is open about the debates is the leadership's open disdain for the electorate, then the obvious reaction is for voters to ask, 'why bother?' and just sit at home! The whole health care debate, or lack thereof, is a political disaster that shakes the very foundation of our national structure.

    January 15, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Cando

    I am so sad with the people of this country for even thinking that after one year in office President Obama can come in and fix the mess the Republicans made, so what are we going to do? We are going to vote in the exact people that got us here in the first place. Who was it that said that we are our own worst enemy? We are destroying this country by letting the Republican's have it again.

    January 15, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. Johnny Five

    My party is better than yours, no mine is. Science told me God doesn't exist. God told me not to pay attention to science.

    CNN told me that Fox lies and I don't have to research anything on my own.

    Fox told me that there are bad guys wanting to hurt America so we should let the government do whatever it wants.

    I won't stand up for my country, but I'll play armchair blogger to throw my voice around on the internet.

    January 15, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. dontreadonme

    Seems like only yesterday the libs were saying that the GOP was done. Now maybe they will get it that Obama won by a pretty slim margine % wise. And many folks who voted for the campaign moderate Obama are wondering if he really existed at all!

    January 15, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. fred

    We are entering year 3 of the Pelosi-Reid recession which started in 2007, a few months after Nancy became speaker. One of her first acts was to raise the minimum wage with the inevitable result of higher unemployment among low wage-earners. Congress has yet to pass any legislation that provides incentives for the private sector to hire and that is the problem.
    Øbama can talk hope & change all day but congress is not delivering.
    No wonder voters are not enthusiastic.

    January 15, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Jakey

    I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Democrats lose some seats this November. They pushed Sonya Sotomeyer on us (NO, we haven't forgotten) and they insist on ramming a healthcare bill down our throats that anybody who has actually read it does not want. They will lose their majority, because they didn't deliver what they said they would, and they are way too liberal, even as far as Democrats go.

    January 15, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. liberal wingnut

    I wonder why? Obama didn't do anything he campaigned on. Biggest joke yet to date.

    January 15, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    If only we could channel this discontent to get some real change in the way this country is run.

    Unless we be guilty of seditious planning...

    January 15, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. teabags

    the teabaggers are trying to make this into a loss for the dems, but the thing is... we already won. we know this, we will vote. we and well, i mean I don't like taking polls.

    January 15, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. chilly

    lol, youve never heard of policy being created behind close doors. your joking right? u repugs have a very selective memory

    January 15, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. Angi's mom

    We voted democrat for change and got shafted. We're still in two wars, no major health reform, and the Democratic majority in Congress are spineless.

    January 15, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. Vickey in Colorado

    Basically, the American people jumped on the bandwagon again. Like they did with Bush for 2 terms. Didn't vote with their intelligence, but with their "adolescent dreams of change and false hope". When it comes to politican's 85% of them are just used car salesmen. Now, we get backroom deals, when transparency was promised. Ignoring the people, when we were promised our voices would be heard. Pis...ing on our rights, when protecting our rights were promised.

    We will be frustrated and hog-tied with any government until we wake up and change this 2 Party monoply system. Folks, both parties have us just where they want us, and every election cycle we will lose more and more of our constitutional rights. WAKE UP AND GET MAD!!!

    January 15, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. makes me wanna holler

    this is why certain people need to sit down after this chris matthews townhall on race....... "because it is what it is". the majority of males [wht] don't see any wrong when their in power.. the prez has spoken on race issues when he ran for office..... now its time for black folk to see and realize after all these years. you are at the fork in the road , its time to try something new. P.S. leave the prez out of the mess... please. don't fall for this race okey doke for the unteeth time...

    January 15, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Chuck, Tennessee

    Let's hope the end of the Dem majority will start with the Mass election next week and continue until NO party has even close to 60 Senate votes. Maybe if they can't agree, they can't continue spending money this country does not have.

    January 15, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  21. Cando

    The nerve of a repub calling President Obama obozo after what we had in office for the previous 8 years. You Mike, are the bozo.

    January 15, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. gotta hav

    Imagine that, despots losing their enthusiasm....go figure.

    January 15, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. val

    I guess people who are democrats and independent have short term memory what Bush adminstration and 6 years of GOP congress did this country Maybe if all you people goggle bush,it will harsh reminder what he and the GOP how they.destroy this country.

    January 15, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. normajean

    The writers that continue to put down the Democratic party seem to forget that when the new administration came in, they were faced with a mess that the Repubs had literally run away from. They couldn't fix their own screw ups and so were happy to let The Democrats try. Well, it isn't easy but if we are given the same eight years to clean it up that you had to mess it up. we can't do any worse. "Party of No" just get out of the way.

    January 15, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  25. MacBlogger

    Republicans remind me of ME people- me me me me me. I hope they die

    January 15, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
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