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. Karen - Missouri

    I know one thing...for the first time in my life...I'm voting STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

    Every time Republicans rule...this country goes deeper down the hole. ENOUGH!

    September 23, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. chris

    “The national narrative has been about Obama as a change agent and reformer. Here in Chicago we know better. Obama says nothing about reform. Nor does he stand up to challenge the corrupt power structure here. In fact, he embraces it.”

    September 23, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. ChrisCrafter

    CNN – do you actually get paid for your not-so-transparent support of Obama and the Democrats? If not, then you should. Your left-leaning reporting is repulsive and completely violative of the basic tenets of journalism. Shame on you.

    September 23, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. PUT washington and walls treet CRIMINALS IN PRISON!

    sweep washington in november!

    call and write your congressmen and senators!

    tell them you are watching!

    September 23, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Dimslie

    It may also be because it's a CNN poll. They think they can't change their web page without another gloomy comment to put up about Republicans. Maybe they could just have a standard headline of "Yea Democrats!!!". Nobody believes their crap.

    September 23, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Caroline Los Angeles

    Sounds like the Repulican party has become quite intimidated now that they have met their match in the newly coalesced Democratic party; the Repulicans may truly realize facing their fear of political ruin – just like the Whigs. It's time to run this country with reason, not with fear and emotion.

    September 23, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    We the people are the goverment and as a true American I say we need to take back our country and I think the Obama will do that if we get behind him and vote.

    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. Moe, NY

    No more republicans....just look at what they have done to America!

    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. kc

    Shocker Alert: CNN says the Dems will win. This is not news worthy. It is the liberal media spewing their agenda. Watch FOXNEWS!!!!!!

    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. ran

    I will take socialism over dictatorship ever time.

    The republicans did nothing when they had all three branches of Gov. for 6 yrs. and are doing all they can now to make sure the Democrats can't do anything either.

    It takes 2/3 majority to over ride a veto/filibuster.

    I say give us Obama/Biden and 2/3 majority and let the Republicans go home for the next 16 yrs.

    I bet we would have one of if not the best 16 yrs in our history if we can get the voters to see that Obama/Biden and only Democrats is the way for us all to progress.

    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. jim b

    I hope it works out this way in November. Because what I really want after that is to see investigations and plenty of them. Aimed at exposing the magnitude of the mess that the Republicans have made. Scores of thousands dead so that Haliburton could be given non competitive government contracts. The economy in melt down because a Republican adminsitration can't bring it self to regulate its rich friends. Hopefully convictions to follow. The more the better. Republican is a synonym for criminal and we need to mover forwardc with that undersxtanding. Pay back time soon.

    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Andrew

    "Trickle down Economics, cronyism, greed , and Americans spending beyond their means has brought the Nation to it's knees.

    Say "NO" to this bailout! It's another case of the rich guy helping his friends. Wall Street and these banks deserve to crumble. HEY PAULSON LOANING MONEY OUT IS WHAT GOT US IN THIS MESS, MORON!

    I might not agree with Ron Paul much but he's dead on with this crisis.
    Bailing out failures will lead to more failure.



    September 23, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Rob

    I think its time the media stopped covering Miss Palin until she admits to all the lies . She on;ly wants the media if she thinks it will benefit her

    September 23, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Pam Holt Los Angeles, CA


    Could it be possible more of my fellow Americans are finally starting to pay attention and CARE?

    September 23, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. darko

    The Democrats idea of compromise in Congress is adding pork barrel spending to every bill that they don't like rather than cutting something else to help burden the cost.

    So much for discretionary spending...

    "If we didn't bring it to the floor, it obviously doesn't have enough welfare funds in it.! "

    September 23, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. sergio

    McCain himself said he was weak on the economy. His memory is weak too. He doesn't even know how many homes or cars he owns. He can not remember that Spain is in Europe. America do not allow this amnesiac into the White House. VOTE OBAMA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Maggie

    Can we PLEASE have some people in Washington with common sense who don't cater to a particular part/lobbyist/special interest group/ego/self-interest? Is that too much to ask for in our elected officials?

    September 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Rick

    If you think the excessive spending increases of 2001-2006 under Republican control of both Congress and the Presidency were awful, wait until Obama and a heavily Dem congress take hold. Fact is that there has never been a President that has stood up to a Congress of his own party. Obama will be no different. The difference is that Obama will not have the luxury of a 10% annual increase in tax revenues that occurred between 2003 and 2006. Think the deficits are huge now – just wait.

    September 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Kandi

    Haven't you figured it out yet? It is not the party people belong to that is causing all of the problems; it is the career politicians. No person in their right mind would want to be president....So we are left with nothing but greedy egomaniacs with too much money and not enough sense to fight their way out of a paper bag. The founding fathers of our once great nation must be rolling in their graves. I say: kick them all out and give us the average Joes and Josephines. They would do a much better job for the country because they would be representing their family, friends, neighbors and peers. The political jokers probably do not even know their neighbors.

    September 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. tedious898


    If you only had the decency to own up to all the problems caused during your watch. We could actually respect you for being "American enough" to admit the incompetence.

    Most importantly, if I hear "socialist rule" from another one of you piss ants, I'm going to sign up to impeach the "shrub" in office. We are now contemplating $700 bn worth of "socialism" to save companies from "fat cat" decisions.

    Listen you republicans don't have to go away mad. Just GO AWAY

    September 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Adam

    The Republican controlled Congress is sending America down the toilet. Oh wait a second....The democrats control Congress.
    If Obama wins, God help us all. Change is on the way. Remember, "change" is a neutral term. It can also be bad.

    September 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |

    Senator John McCain has been campaigning to stop “multi-million dollar payouts to CEOs who have broken the public trust.” But on Monday, when asked on The Today Show about the compensation package that his senior economic adviser Carly Fiorina received after she was fired from Hewlett-Packard, McCain took a different stand.

    Meredith Vieira, The Today Show: “But she left with a—I think it was a $45 million golden parachute, while 20,000 of her employees were laid off. She is an example of exactly the kind of person you say is at the root of the problem.”

    McCain: “I don’t think so.”

    Vieira: “The CEO—how can you say that?”

    McCain: “Because I think she did a good job as CEO in many respects. I don’t know the details of her compensation package, but she’s one of many advisers that I have.”

    Vieira: “But she did get a $45 million golden parachute after being fired, while 20,000 of her employees were laid off.”

    McCain: “I have many of the people, and I do not know the details of what happened.”

    September 23, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    And for you from 4:31,
    If Palin has so much more experience, why haven't we seen it?
    I mean, she gave a great speech at the convention (a good portion of it misleading) and then she gave the same speech out on the stump.

    Now, if you mean experience in terms of
    avoiding investigations
    refusing to allow her spouse to testify under subpoena
    looking to ban library books
    firing people who won't fire people she doesn't like
    stabbing her freinds and colleauges in the back with mistruths

    then yes, she does have more expreience than Obama.

    But, seriously, if she had experience, would she have had to ask for meetings with foreign leaders? Really, would she have been able to take the same track Obama did and get the same welcome (from Iraq where their leader endorsed Obama's timeline
    to Afghanistan where their leader welcomed Obama's approach to the war in his country
    to Jordan where their leader was so impressed that he personally drove Obama to the airport
    to Isreal where every one of their senior leaders met with Obama and felt he was wonderful for them, including those who felt it was good for him to get teh Palenstian side of things (unlike McCain)
    to Palestine where their leader enjoyed a brief meeting
    to Germany where ANgela Merkel had glossy eyes for Obama and 200,000 showed up to cheer him on
    to France where their President called Obama "his friend"
    to London where Gordon Brown took Obama to a place where only dignitaries in very special situations get to go?
    Nope? Well, then Palin doesn't have Obama's experience. Sorry, try again.

    September 23, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Kate from Florida

    ANYONE who votes for McCain and Palin are just plain nuts. Stop destroying the country. Vote in the Democrats. They certainly can't do worse and are likely to do much better!!!

    September 23, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |

    Economists estimate that the $700 billion bailout will cost every American $2,300. ABC News reports the bailout comes less than a year after Wall Street’s five biggest firms—Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley—paid a record $39 billion in bonuses to themselves. Those 2007 bonuses were paid even though the shareholders in those firms last year collectively lost about $74 billion in stock declines. The bonuses paid by these five firms averaged over $200,000 per employee.

    Good job, Republicans!

    September 23, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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