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. MiMi

    I think the whole lot of them (dems) should be prosecuted for their backdoor deals, stealing money from middle class tax payers, yes TAX payers, not tax evaders, and the acceptance of lawbreakers working in the WH. I am SICK OF IT. GO BROWN!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Ray E.

    Well Folks,
    Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. There is no change, just a resumption of the Socalist Policies of the Liberal Left geared to put you in the Nanny State. It falied in the Soviet Union, who thinks it will suceed here?

    People have been taking care of themselves for 200 years so why do some think that is no longer so?

    January 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Ohio D

    As a Dem, I am disappointed in the transparency (or lack there of). We were promised full transparency and I thought Obama would finally make that real. But even more is going on behind closed doors now. From Nebraska medicare deals to get health care votes, all the super pork in the stimulus plan for votes and the bailout of STILL FAILING auto companies (were the taxpayer got the rawest deal of anyone). That is why I am not happy. I will either not vote, or maybe even vote for moderate Repubs *shiver*. That is how disappointed I am. My HOPE is gone and the CHANGE never happened. The first year is when most of the promises should have been passed/enacted. The political capital is gone!

    January 15, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Eileen

    Democrats are really very delusional people. Get your facts straight so you do not prove your stupidity when posting.

    Bush and the Republicans did not cause this country's financial mess. Look to your party. Dobbs, Franks, Clinton.

    You can keep telling the lies but apparently this country is seeing through them. Go Brown.

    January 15, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Hugh Betcha

    Dems are not enthusiastic because they wanted every thing that Bush did in 8 years corrected in 8 months. While it takes longer to fix a near depression, close GITMO, get out of Iraq, provide health reform for the 45 million uninsured, democrats are an impatient group. But, unlike republicans, they will get it all done.

    January 15, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. miken

    This has never been and never will be a socialist country thank goodness! The democrats want to blame bush for everything but it doesn't ring true – democrats like snators dodd and frank are very much to blame for the housing bubble. Now obama is spending away our future with perks to the unions who unbelieveably want to bring in more illegal immigrants to take more jobs away from non-union workers. America is waking up.

    January 15, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Raj

    False promises lead to a lack of faith in the party. The crazies on boards like this that don't want to fix anything but instead bash Bush put off Independents like myself. This health care bill is a joke, buying Senators is a joke, and it's no surprise that I voted for McDonnell after voting for Kaine and Warner for VA Gov. The far left and right are the problems and if the best answer is Bush is worse, well why should we settle for the 2nd worse then? We should have better but the democrats, like the republicans before them, are drunk with power and pushed an agenda the American people didn't want and have now sealed their fate.

    January 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. TruthSayer

    It's lemmings like Doraine Gordon who blindly follow a party that they cannot see a forest through the trees. It is much more than "blaming it on Bush" which is what the current powers that be will do for years to come if allowed. The problem is the country chose to vote for the current state of affairs and were sold a lie. Transparency? It's hard to be transparent behind closed doors. Bi-partinship? It's hard to be bi-partisin when you lock out the minority party. For the people? It's hard to be for the people when you continually cram a bill of goods down our throats when a majority says no or not right now.

    It's a DC problem, not restricted to one party. Vote them all out!

    January 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. mjm

    That's because Democrats bought in to "hope and change" liberal politics. As it turns out, the liberals in congress can deliver NOTHING but 10% unemployment and trillions in spending in less than 1 year.....they are failures in less than 1 year.

    While under Bush, unemployment averaged 5.4%...and they tried to call that a failure. Now we see the true meaning of failed policies.

    Not to mention the lies, like C-span, the payoffs and bribes, special interest groups like the unions....

    January 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. R.B.

    Republicans want to move us into the past and keep us there, prisoners of the Dark Ages, abject subjects of witch hunts, with pimititive social views, oppression of women, Bush doctrine hawkishness, trickle down economics, wars on every front to help disguise their agenda with a shield of propagandist patriotism, resurrecting every failed policy of the past 8 years. Yep, we need that.

    January 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. think4urself

    This just shows how weak-willed we have become in allowing the media to shape things. Obama and the Dems should be pounding the Repukes since they got us here. Kicking Repuke butt for what they did should be part of the strength going forward, playing nice with poison just does not work.

    January 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. MacDeezy

    Is it any wonder? Being a cynic, not to me. I want Obama to succeed in leading a recovery, but every move he's made makes me nervous at best, and indignant at worst. With him, it's all about populism, and less about wisdom. He's made too many foolish moves already. He obviously plays favorites (unions, pharmaceutical companies, Nebraska, etc.) How is that any different from Bush playing favorites? Democrats have really blown their opportunity. Instead of making lemonade out of lemons, they make kool-aid, call it lemonade, and force you to drink it.

    January 15, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. sharp2

    People keep saying the Republicans got us in this mess. Huh? Democrats in Congress ruled. We had a Republican President. I'd say this was a mess caused by power hungry politicans on both sides. Now the original mess is worse and will be a nightmare for we the people when the SECRET healthcare bill is passed.

    January 15, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. nebster10

    I"m a thirty plus year straight democratic voter and I'll probably sit out the 2010 mid terms. Were not getting health reform as promised. we wanted a strong public option not an insurance co. Windfall. The democrats are taking their base for granted and the results will be worse than 1994. Watch for real depresson when the republicans regain office. I'm not voting republican but when I dont vote democrats cant win.

    January 15, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Mountain Dude

    The right wing rhetoric about socialism is laughable. We have a free market economy and slowly the populace is losing its vote because corporate control is growing. We think that capitalism in purity will prevail but we are foolish to think the whole world plays fair. We better get a grasp of the big picture soon or we will be at the will of the corporations and I shouldn’t have to say CITGO or Sinopec to make you understand that not all corporations have the USA public’s best interest in mind. Let’s grow up a little and let some of the rhetoric die and start working towards goals with the people of the USA in the forefront.

    January 15, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Chris

    The problem is this. The American people see a Congress that holds a majority in both houses, yet they don't work together to do what is right. So, then you get all this backroom dealing stuff. See the thing with the Republican party. Those idiots stuck tooth and nail with Bush on all his crazy policies wether they were good or not. It showed they stood together. The Democrats in office now don't do that they are only looking out for themselves so that they can get reelected. That is why it would be to the advantage to the American people in both parties to insitute term limits across the board!!

    January 15, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Over the last 8 years, republicans have put Americans in a terrible position. The GOP is lucky that their base is not too bright and easily forgets about the republican culture of corruption.

    January 15, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. HB

    Thank to the no good media.

    January 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. Tammy in Arizona

    Dems need not worry, as election time grows near Republicans will start to get all backwoods and hickish as they always do.

    January 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Larry S

    The ignorance of so many of these liberal comments proves there is a lack of common sense and intelligence in the democrat party.

    January 15, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. jayindenver

    Republicans are enthusiastic to go back to the things that made America great. You know, torture, deficit spending, corporate greed, preemptive invasions, drunkenly shooting your friend in the face, and flight-suit codpieces symbolizing manhood. They're going to "take back our country" from the people who have actually restored America's reputation worldwide, worked to provide healthcare coverage for all uninsured Americans, and proposed actual solutions to the problems facing our nation. They work diligently to elect "real" Americans who believe Bible stories should be taught as science, or who apparently can't name an actual Founding Father, or who misunderstand the concept of Socialism by equating the uniquely American ideal of helping those less fortunate with Communism or Fascism. Gosh, they must be proud of themselves.

    " You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new west. You know . . . morons." - Blazing Saddles

    January 15, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. LiveFreeorDie

    The United States Congress is controlled by a one party, Socialist Fascist group. Despite what they espouse, there are very few differences in the actions of most Democrats and Republicans Congressmen. The fact that the Republican contingent is more enthusiastic than the Democratic contingent will mean very little to the rest of us unless we are willing to reform the voting process (and remove the fraud) and then vote for leaders who understand and respect personal liberty and the proper (and limited) role of government which is to protect our God-given liberties.

    January 15, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Steve

    and, what may I ask, is an enthusiasm gap? Why should we actually care??

    January 15, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. LiveFreeorDie

    The United States Congress is controlled by a one party, Socialist Fascist group. Despite what they espouse, there are very few differences in the actions of most Democrat and Republican Congressmen. The fact that the Republican contingent is more enthusiastic than the Democratic contingent will mean very little to the rest of us unless we are willing to reform the voting process (and remove the fraud) and then vote for leaders who understand and respect personal liberty and the proper (and limited) role of government which is to protect our God-given liberties.

    January 15, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Brad/San Diego

    More lies from the right wing corrupt republicans, if they do get back in Mr. Obama will veto every bill that republicans send him,and I hope he does. The first thing that the republicans want to do is cut our Social Sercuity in half, and they want tthese to cut MEDICA to. So go ahead vote these crooks back in, and I hope you all sever for it.

    January 15, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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