September 23rd, 2008
08:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Democrats widen lead in battle for Congress

Democrats have the upper hand in the fight for Captiol Hill.

Democrats have the upper hand in the fight for Captiol Hill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Call it the overlooked election. An intense battle is going on right now for control of Congress, but it's overshadowed in the media by a historic race for the White House.

So which party has the upper hand in the fight for Capitol Hill?

The answer, according to a new national poll, appears to be the Democrats. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Tuesday, 56 percent of those questioned are backing the Democratic candidate for Congress, while 42 percent support the Republicans.

That's a change from immediately after the GOP convention, when the Democrats had only a 3-point lead lead over the Republicans, 49 percent to 46 percent.

"The change may simply be due to the convention bounce fading for local Republicans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "We've seen evidence that the bounce for John McCain and Sarah Palin was not a permanent change in the horse race. Since the Dems have had a double-digit lead in the so-called 'generic ballot' question throughout the year, it's possible that the current numbers are just reverting back to normal levels for 2008."

The "generic ballot" question asked voters to choose between an unnamed Democratic candidate versus an unnamed Republican in the House race in their district. In reality, people vote for specific candidates in the 435 separate district elections for the House of Representatives.

The poll also indicates that most people don't think Congress is doing a good job at all. Only 22 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, with 78 percent disapproving. The Democrats who currently control both houses of Congress fare better. Forty-four percent of those polled approve of how Democratic congressional leaders are doing their job, up 8 percentage points from July. Fifty-four percent of those polled disapprove.

The Democrats currently control 235 seats in the House to the Republicans 199, with one seat vacant. The Senate is split 49 to 49, with two independents. But both of those independent senators caucus with the Democrats, giving the party the majority in the Senate.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was taken Friday through sunday, with 1,020 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the questions on how Congress and its leaders are
handling their jobs.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. wycliffe, NJ

    A citizen voting for OBAMA and change. I am feed uo with the washington culture that does not care for its citizens. America is finally waking up, and standing against washington.

    September 23, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. RepublicansHateAmerica

    Republicans Hate America. They ruin our economy, start needless wars, put our sons in harm's way, alienate our allies and leave us with no resources. If you're a Republican, YOU hate America. It is time to face it. You hate liberty, equality and hapiness. Don't tell me you're a Patriot. Patriots support their country and their fellow citizen. You have not done this. Your party has not done this. Republicans Hate America.

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Palin has more experience than Obama

    If you only blame Bush OR congress for the market trouble show that they are all about the party and not for the USA. Both hold blame to this mess.

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Sharon Kitchen

    The repub party has destroyed yes, Go Obama/Biden '08
    Just think......those polls were of house phones.......alot of folks list their cell phones only.......just think what the poll would've been with them added.

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Joanne

    I think the American People will not fall for the Republician garbage this time.

    Palin meeting 9 leaders for a few minutes to give her some experience is a joke. As a woman I am offended by this attempt to use women to try to win the White House. Even a woman who is against choise for women is even more offensive.

    I think the American people are smarter than that.

    Obama / Biden should win easily.

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. Ibukun, NC

    Republicans have managed to stand as a stumbling block to the democratic progressive agenda. They need to be voted out so the country can move foward. No more of the past 8 years! And certainly out with Elizabeth Dole in NC!!

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Steve

    If I was a Republican right now, I'd be firing up my resume. Hostility doesn't begin to describe how Americans feel toward the Republican party right now. What's particularly sad, is the best they can do is to try to steal Obama's campaign slogans. For years the Republicans whined that if only they could be in power, they'd fix things. We gave them the chance. They've fixed things all right. Now we need a 700 billion dollar bail out for their buddies. It was a free market system until the Republicans realized they'd screwed it up. Now it's not a free market system. It's an unbelievable mess.

    See ya! Don't let the Capitol doors hit ya in the behind as you leave!

    September 23, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Mike in San Antonio

    To DJ in LA – If the Dems would come up with CREDIBLE bills, they wouldn't have to worry about a veto from the President. But they want to saddle these bills with so much PORK that President Bush has no choice but to veto them.

    And to Cyrus K. – ANY party with both houses and the Presidency is a dangerous thing. Remember the Jimmy Carter years? Those were some of the WORST years in American history. In fact, they were so bad the press came up with the "misery index" to gauge just how bad things were. And guess what? Carter had a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. I don"t want EVER want a repeat of that mess!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. J Houston, TX

    As usual, no party has universally good policies. Moderation and compromise are the keys to the success of this country. A republican congress and democratic president has led to the most prosperous times in our history. Likewise, a democratic congress and republican President has shown better for the economy than any individual party controlling FAR. Take note. Everyone who simply pledges party doesn't really care about the issues, they are just rooting for their "football" team.

    September 23, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. straight talk ha?

    straight joke express!!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Tired Elephant

    After all the "bleating" from the House GOP on the "bailout", the Dow in the tank again, look for things to improve even further for the Democrats. It's time for Bush to get them in line, reach a consensus with the Democrats (easier than with his own party) and get this thing done, before we have a total meltdown.

    While voting Republican on the state and local level, I wouldn't vote for a Republican for House, Senate or President on a bet. 8 years is enough!

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. America think for you

    As usual blaming the democrats it will not work this time. John McCain party created this wall street mess and they cannot just hand them a blank check to bail out the rich boys in wall street without having a package in that $ 700 billion to bail out main street as well.

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Fraud sniffer

    Here comes the October surprise, dung throwing, lying, cheating, go down spitting Republican smear machine, warming up its engine.

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Brooke in PA

    The Dems will sweep the Congressional Elections and lose the White House again. They'll be like the New England Patriots. God I love my party. NOT.

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. straight talk ha?

    mccain and palin are going to be trivial pursuit questions real soon.

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Matt

    Maybe America actually gets it and is hoping to finally give the Dems a sufficient majority to prevent Republican vetoes and filibusters from stopping our country from progressing. Maybe. There IS hope.

    September 23, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. no fear

    Republicans may have played a large part in what is happening in our economy, but this problem has been in the making for a while.

    That said, I do so hope that the majority of Americans see their way to voting Obama in.

    September 23, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Jody, CA

    Americans are waking up to the fact that the GOP is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We have had a miserable 8 years and they want another miserable 4 years.

    Barack will also be able to get something done if we have a Democratic Congress and White House.

    Thanks, but no thanks Repugs, we can do much better without you.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 23, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Olivia

    Having seen the debacles of 2000 and 2004 for democrats I will just say that democrats should not "missunderestimate" Americans in the rural and the west

    September 23, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Steve

    WoW. What a surprise. CNN does another "bad news" article about republicans while Biden is melting down and Obama is loosing in key demographics.

    CNN, you need to start telling the truth about the financial scandal links to the Democratics.

    September 23, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Anti Palin...Pro Women


    September 23, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Bruce

    It is time for America to become color blind...this election wouod be over if Obama were not bi racial...admidt it America,,
    If you want this country to turn around then you ahd better get over the racial thing..because that old white man will tkae this country down the road to ruin...
    Become Color blind between now and 11/4/08 McCain?Palin are betting on the racial issue to be thier ace in the hole....prove them wrong.
    By the way..I am a 54 year old , white male,

    September 23, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. the other jd

    I thought the buy out of Wall Street proposed by Bush was another step toward socialist rule. We appear to be privatizing profits and socializing losses.

    September 23, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Get real is right, CNN

    The only thing CNN knows how to do is slam McCain and Palin. Gee, I'm wondering if you're bonehead Dumbacrats? !!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Kavin Savvy

    Obama should be President

    otherwise we might have to choose public transportation or bike..

    September 23, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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