October 6th, 2010
09:21 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll of Polls: Likely voters favor GOP candidates by six points

(CNN) - According to the first CNN Poll of Polls in this year's battle for control of Congress, likely voters favor Republican candidates over Democrats in the midterm matchup that's just 27 days away.

The CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released Wednesday, indicates that 50 percent of likely voters would choose a Republican candidate for Congress if the election were held today. Forty-four percent of likely voters say they would choose a Democrat.

The generic ballot question asks respondents if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates. It's used by many polling organizations, including CNN/Opinion Research Corporation surveys.

The latest CNN Poll of Polls is an average of four national polls conducted from late September to October 3: CNN (September 21-23), Newsweek (September 29-30), Gallup tracking (September 23-26, September 30-October 3), and ABC News/Washington Post (September 30-October 3). The Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

The GOP's single digit lead in the CNN Poll of Polls is similar to the three-point advantage that the party held in mid-October polls in 1994. By late October of that year, the GOP margin had grown to ten points, and in November the Republicans grabbed 54 seats back from the Democrats, winning control of the House of Representatives. They also captured the Senate.

In the battle for control of Congress, the generic ballot is arguably the most watched polling indicator. But it should not be considered one-stop shopping.

"The problem with interpreting the generic ballot is that a national poll cannot produce the same results that 435 separate polls in 435 House districts would produce," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's why analysts tend to look at other measures as well."

Among the other indicators to consider are the favorable ratings of the two parties, questions about which party should control Congress, ratings of the parties on major issues, and the president's approval rating.

"Some academic experts have done a good job forecasting the results of midterm elections with statistical models that pay little or no attention to the generic ballot," Holland says. "But if you're looking for just one number that tries to forecast what will happen in 435 different House races, the generic ballot is usually the one most analysts focus on."

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: CNN Poll of polls • Democrats • Polls • Republicans
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Pollwatcher

    And last week Democrats were up 5-10 points, and some other polls still have Dems up, then Reps down... polls are very erratic and unreliable.

    October 6, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Adalbert

    We are where we are thanks to republican wars, tax cuts, job transfers and corporate welfare. So, it is inconceivable as to why any working class American in their right mind would want to vote for the republicans?
    Republicans never done anything to help the working class and they never will. They are in the pockets of the corporations and other special interests with huge resources. Money and power is all that the new GOP is interested in.

    October 6, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Ed L

    American voters are so damned stupid it's nauseating. Uninformed, easily swayed by idiotic ads and rhetoric. Democracy is doomed in this country.

    October 6, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. NVa Native

    Proof that a majority of Americans have the memory of a mouse with a human brain.
    How could anyone want to go backward and put the same people/party in power when we haven't even recovered from their last "huge" pile of fecal matter they dumped on us?? It might take a generation or two just to get back to where we were before the Republicans had total control and drove us into this fiscal, social, and bureaucratic swamp they are apparently so proud of.
    Possibly we are not as great a species as we'd like to think we are.

    October 6, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. gt

    as long as the democratic party runs people like alan grayson then they will loose every seat ...ck out anderson cooper interview.. i have never seen a more of a slim ball ever....this guy... what a pathedic little man ...what a looser grayson is...

    October 6, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Louisiana Man

    Who conducts these polls of LIKELY VOTERS and what part of the country do they poll?
    I am a sure voter and they have never called me.

    Is this selective polling?

    October 6, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. Grundoon

    What's different about now and 1994 is that cell phones were rare then, now everyone's got one and those numbers don't get called. Also, telemarking is so out of hand now that I don't know anyone – that is those that still have a land line – that answers their phone unless the know who is calling. You can't get rid of the survery people, credit card offers, fundraisers so most folks don't even bother. What you have to watch is which party is raising money and from whom. The Democrats' fundraising efforts are either toe-to-toe or better than the GOP, who is raking in funds from special interest thanks to the SCOTUS. With the Dems' raising as much or more than the GOP, and it's money coming from regular folks, that spells WIN WIN WIN for Dems in November. When you can develope some reliable polls, let me know. Until then this is just BS.

    October 6, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. larry

    Dumb, forgetful americans

    October 6, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Blkman

    Right..................so what makes this the "Poll of Polls"?

    October 6, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Allen

    Short-term memory is a horrible thing to lose. This country has forgotten who got us into this mess. The GOP clearly wants to take back power so they can get us back into another downward spiral while lining their constituents pockets. This would be a success for big oil and Wall St.; a loss for middle Americans and our environment. Sadly, it's the middle Americans who aren't getting it. If anyone thinks any Admin. could have turned this mess around in 2 or even 3 yrs. is fooling themselves. No on the intolerant, obstructionist GOP who've been hijacked by right-wing religious fanatics. Seriously, voting for someone like Angle or O'Donnell, are you serious?

    October 6, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. nick

    Ironic. These working class whites are flocking to the very Party which has ignored their please, sent their work overseas, is insinuating that they should work for the world level labor rate (i.e. 80-cents an hour US) and has turned a deaf ear to everything that would make their existance better. So when thier red-neck world falls in around their ears they wil only have themselves to blame.

    October 6, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Right Leaning Independent

    Bring on November!!! Dems have stated their case! Their control of congress has been a waste!! Lets be sure they leave with great haste!!!! This message approved by someone with common sense!!!

    October 6, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Stop Soros (and his puppets)

    By only six points. With all the damage that Obama and Pelosi have done, I was sure it would be closer to ten. Well, it probably would if the media did its job on reporting the massive short falls of Obamacare, the financial 'reform' joke, the joke that is Holder and the Justice Department, no offshore drilling for the US (while we give money to Mexico and Brazil to do it), the purpose of the Energy and Education departments (and their failings), the deficit, the vast expansion of the liberal hated Patriot Act, wars.... and the list goes on.

    October 6, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |