CNN Poll: GOP has edge in early midterm indicator
December 26th, 2013
09:00 AM ET
9 months ago

CNN Poll: GOP has edge in early midterm indicator

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.


Filed under: 2014 • CNN/ORC International poll
soundoff (654 Responses)
  1. Yaspar Kyashred

    "...the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and controversy over the possiblity of insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law."
    No, no, NO Paul! This is CNN, not Faux News!! You're supposed to say "the GOP-sabotaged rollout of HealthCare.gov, and the suffering caused by businesses taking advantage of the opportunity to strip their employees of their health care." Get with the program!

    December 26, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  2. Socraticsilliness

    Not too surprising. The low info voters who thought obamacare would be the most wonderfullest thing eva! were shown the error of their ways....

    December 26, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. Jon

    You know having to report these things, even though they do their best to bury them, drives these libs at CNN crazy.

    December 26, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Scott

    The President's absence proves that when he shuts up lies don't come out.

    December 26, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  5. bilk7

    If this country ever lets the GOP continue to run the House they way they have or even take over the Senate, we get what we deserve. In 2014 we should be getting rid of these obstructionists who have been tearing our country apart.

    December 26, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  6. Dirtmover

    Anyone paying attention, no matter where in the U.S. they may be, should know better than to vote LIB, even for dog catcher.

    December 26, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  7. Steve Hamilton

    A major event will occur by March 31 that will render this poll irrelevant. The long awaited updated US credit rating, revised to reflect the impact of the far right shutdown and default threat should be published by March 31. The US credit rating will drop two levels, leading to a 200 basis points increase in the cost of borrowing that will grow the deficit by about $100 billion. This new rating may very well serve as the trigger for the business community to withhold support for far right candidates, as previously threatened.

    Additionally, there is a strong chance that an Executive Order in the first half of the year will eliminate gerrymandering.

    In the mid terms, there will be no change in the Senate and a sea change in the House.

    December 26, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  8. daviddavid

    CNN trying damage control now – the 2014 midterms will be a blood bath for Democrats.. Obama's approval is at 37% and FALLING.. Less than 31% of people support ObamaCare.. Democrats are turning on Obama now to try and save face.. Even the female vote is leaving Obama.. Turns out that Democrats are the anti-women party.. Truth is ugly.. but it is the truth.. We Americans will take back the Senate in 2014 and will retain control of the House as well.. Obama is a lame duck in the first year of his second term.. Great job OB! .

    December 26, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. Robert

    10 years after Democrat governance and Roosevelt policies, the unemployment rate in 1939 was 13.7%

    We are now seeing the same thing under A Marxist incompetent narcissist in the White House. Socialism has never worked anywhere in history folks. Cubans enjoy a average monthly wage of a whopping $14 per month. Liberalism is most certainly a mental disorder.

    December 26, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. Robert

    Correction....the unemployment rate in 1939 was worse......17.3%

    December 26, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. Robert

    Keep voting Democrat if you want an equal share of misery.

    December 26, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    Hi CNN
    give us all a break and stop manufacturing political crisis with Useless polls that you even say are Not a guide to reality of the election under discussion.
    Its 10 times worse then the Financial advisors who tell investors past experience and statistics are no guide to the future and the price of investments may rise or fall.
    Its Xmas guys... who the hell is really interested to talk about voting in 2014. Where's the Turkey and beer? May be a better guide to who votes in 2014 please reply, I know , I don't know, haven't got either .
    I can take a bet on that outcome.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    December 26, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  13. westside

    Then got tired of both parties and ended throwing my vote for third parties. Now, I am forced to vote for the evil Republicans only because the Democons have really gone too far. I hate voting for the lesser of two evils too.

    December 27, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  14. rob

    what's the difference between a lame duck and a very lame duck?
    changing a few representatives or senators won't make a change before 2016...

    December 27, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. Maxwell

    "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."

    Ah that's nothing, that only proves that men are smarter than women.

    December 27, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. Know Your Subject

    After reading the article, I fully expected some fool to say that polls don't matter and history doesn't matter. I was not disappointed.

    December 27, 2013 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  17. sandvichmancer

    What do you know. People still haven't learned the lesson that Republicans look out for the Tea Party minority, and nobody else.

    December 27, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  18. marc

    Nothing much to count on actually happening with the polls. Americans are so polarized and set on which party they believe, that they'll vote for them regardless. Bush started a war based on intentional lies and misrepresentations, yet possibly won in 2004, barring any electoral fraud. The main determiner for who wins is how many of their supporters turn out to vote. We're a sad lot, believing all spins and lies of the politicians, never using any common sense in voting....which would be putting the entire current bunch out to pasture.

    December 27, 2013 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  19. groinksan

    @ChrisM – Few things you missed. bin Laden won you 2012. What do you have to offer next? Stock market is good, but that only benefits retirees. Doesn't affect the millenials, since many of them still haven't started a 401K or IRA. Job growth? Talk about net job loss – your guy lost tens of millions of jobs. And 8 million new jobs is good to you? Try to explain that without mentioning Bush – your guy made promises, he hasn't delivered, and no one caused that to happen but himself. Where are the jobs for the tens of millions who lost their jobs since Obama took office? On top of all that, you have Benghazi, the IRS, the Eric Snowden/NSA fiasco, and of course ObamaCare.

    December 27, 2013 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  20. DaveW

    I used to be a Republican. I don't know if I'll ever vote Republican ever in my life, ever again. Democrat – straight ticket all the way.

    December 27, 2013 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  21. Mercury

    If Jesus had known Christians were going to become Republicans, He would have never promised forgiveness.

    December 27, 2013 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  22. Name

    You had a similar poll last year during the presidential election and the president won by a landslide.

    December 27, 2013 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  23. Jeff H

    You had a similar poll last year during the presidential election and the president won by a landslide.

    December 27, 2013 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  24. Rick

    After the bold face lies that were told to the American people in an effort to ram Obamacare down our throats, the perpetual Obama scandals, warrant less wiretaps and the lack of accountability and transparency in the party as a whole, one would have to be mindless to ever vote for another Demonrat.

    December 27, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  25. Barbara

    This Independent will be voting Rep this time around...

    December 27, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
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