Washington (CNN) - Democrats have lost their advantage and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates, and that the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be a low-turnout event, with only three in 10 registered voters extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year.
Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.
But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.
The 13-point swing over the past two months follows a political uproar over Obamacare, which included the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and controversy over the possiblity of insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law.
"Virtually all the movement toward the GOP has come among men," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Fifty-four percent of female voters chose the Democratic candidate in October; 53% pick the Dem now. But among male voters, support for Democratic candidates has gone from 46% in October to just 35% now."
Republicans have a 17-seat advantage in the House and Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate.
While the generic ballot question is one of the most commonly used indicators when it comes to the battle for Congress, the poll results are a long way from predicting what will happen next November.
"There is just under a year to go before any votes are actually cast and the 'generic ballot' question is not necessarily a good predictor of the actual outcome of 435 separate elections," Holland cautioned.
"A year before the 2010 midterms, for example, the Democrats held a 6-point lead on the generic ballot but the GOP wound up regaining control of the House in that election cycle, thanks to an historic 63-seat pickup," he added.
Lack of enthusiasm
According to the poll, only three in 10 registered voters say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for Congress next year, compared to more than four in 10 who felt that way in late 2009. And 43% say they're not enthusiastic about voting, up from 25% who felt that way four years ago.
Democratic voters seem particularly unenthusiastic about voting, and that is likely to benefit the GOP. Thirty-six percent of Republicans say they're extremely or very enthusiastic about voting. That number drops to 22% among Democrats.
Another GOP advantage is the President's standing with the public: 55% of registered voters say that they are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who opposes the President than one who supports him and four in 10 say they are likely to vote for a candidate who supports Obama.
"Those kind of numbers spelled early trouble for the Democrats before the 1994 and 2010 midterms, and for the GOP before the 2006 elections," Holland said.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from December 16-19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
The GOP can actually win back the Senate, but their key is to keep a low profile heading into November, which is pretty hard for some members of that party. Thank God my state allows me to register Independent. I'm voting all incumbents outs in November.
The GOP already knows this and why? Because the debacle called Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving.
Just goes to show...you can't cure stupid...
Yep CNN, help push people to vote against their best interests. Helps to pay the bills I guess. Anyone who is willing to vote Republican after reviewing their agenda is either rich or a moron.
America's collective stupidity never fails to astonish me.
Uh oh... by liberal standards, 49-44 is a landslide. If CNN has it 49-44, the actual number is probably 52-41. And with every new daily Obamacare screwup that gap is going to grow bigger and bigger.
Give me a break!!! Who are you polling?
The GOP House has not yet folded on amnesty. Once they do so, it will be game over for the Republican party.
WHY, it is the GOP shutting down the Government.....
The Tea Party is the primary reason for the standstill in Congress, one of dozens of ways that these radicals have damaged America.
QUICK!!!! Change the filibuster rule back!!! I can see Reid’s stroke riddled brain twitching as I type.
Vote out all Dems and incumbents, they have done enough harm
This is a perfect non article. "generic polls' on Congress are silly. Notice there is NOT ONE state named here where the GOP will suddenly take out the Democrat Senator? Elections ARE by state and national hurt puppy polls are irrelevant.
The bad news for the Republicans though, is that if they do not retake the Senate in 2014, and they won't, 2016 is going to bring voters out in droves during a time many Republican Senators are up for election.
1963 democrat: What can I do for my country?
2013 Socialist democrat: What can my country do for me ???
I look forward to seeing all this "progress" reversed... and the protesters being struck down with aluminum batons.
Again this is Dnc propaganda so right leaning voters stay home thinking election is in the bag. I will vote along party lines. If GOP house passes immigration I will sit at home or maybe vote democrat just as a protest
I am sure that Republicans will take from this,
the lesson that they can never do enough to
harm Americans and be rewarded for it.
A program to provide education or food
or housing or jobs or health care for
ordinary Americans? Let's do everything
in our power to cause the program to fail.
Then we'll run on the platform that
"government is the problem."
Sure, innocent people will be homeless
or sick or hungry or uneducated.
But that's our new slogan.
I never would have predicted this just three months ago. Although it certainly is nice to see the GOP, at least, approaching a more rational, moderate stance.
On the CNN web site, this headline is right above an article showing that a huge majority of us think that the current Congress is the least-productive in history. Given that the GOP-led House has blocked practically everything that the Democrats have wanted to do, it is logical to conclude that this second poll reflects the public's belief that the Republicans are nothing but obstructionists. And, yet, a very small majority claims to favor the GOP over Democrats in the next congressional election. As Boo said, you can't cure stupid!
Mack, anyone willing to vote democrat after this culmination of idiotic and disingenuous policies that continues unfold before our very eyes is suicidal at best.
If the Democrats have any hope, they need to distance themselves from any "alliance" towards the President, and move towards what the American People want. And that is, the "CHANGE" the President promised from the get go. Which, unfortunately never happened. Keeping in mind that what the Republicans have, is nothing to offer either, something needs to "CHANGE".
How soon people forget that Republcans almost sent this country into a depression and it's a Democratic President that put this country on the road to recovery. Americans are hypocrits.
This isn't news, unless you haven't been paying attention to the Obamacare roll-out. Those of you that voted Dem, and can't afford insurance now, you got what you asked for. Non thinkers.
The masses are tired of the nonsense delivered to us by the Democrat Freeloader Party.
Most democrats wont answer the damn phone polls...but you get a republican on there and they get a chance to spew their racist, facist hatred of America, and they will take the opportunity.