November 11th, 2008
04:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Poll finds most Americans welcome Dem control

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A new poll suggest a majority of Americans welcome Democratic control."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was one of John McCain's closing arguments: "We're getting a glimpse of what one-party rule would look like under Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. Apparently it starts with lowering our defenses and raising our taxes," the Republican presidential nominee said repeatedly on the campaign trail in the final weeks leading up to Election Day.

But a new national poll suggests why a majority of voters didn't seem to buy that argument, as Barack Obama beat McCain in the presidential election and the Democrats made major gains in both the House, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate, under Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Tuesday, 59 percent of those questioned said Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, compared with 38 percent saying such one-party control will be bad.

"That much good will from the public opens a window of opportunity for the Democrats," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the public expects results, and may not listen to excuses for very long if a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House can't get their act together in time."

The poll also indicates that the public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, with 62 percent saying they have a favorable opinion and 31 percent an unfavorable opinion of the party. For the Republicans, a majority, 54 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of the GOP while 38 percent hold a positive view.

"The public has a positive view of the Democratic Party while the GOP 'brand' is hurting," Holland said. "Overall views of the Democratic Party have gone from 53 percent favorable in October to 62 percent favorable now; the GOP overall has seen a 5-point drop in its favorable rating."

The 62 percent figure is the "the highest opinion of the Democrats in at least 16 years, since before Bill Clinton got elected," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

"When has the Republican Party image ever been that bad? Answer: When the Republican Congress impeached President Clinton at the end of 1998," he added.

The poll indicates the public is split regarding the top Democrats in Congress. And that's an improvement.

"Democratic congressional leaders, much maligned this fall, have also seen a boost in their approval rating," Holland said. "Nearly half of those polled now approve of how congressional Democrats are handling their job, up from just a third who felt that way a month ago."

Schneider added, "Same thing happens when you ask them about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Good-bad, 50-50, among voters who even know who they are."

It's a different story for the GOP, with just 24 percent approving of how Republican leaders are handling their jobs and nearly three in four disapproving.

But that doesn't mean the public wants to see the GOP shut out of government. Seven out of eight want the Democrats to include Republican views in any legislation they pass.

"What about those times, and they will occur, when Barack Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress disagree," asked Holland. "The public is likely to side with Obama: 59 percent say they are more likely to trust him than the congressional Democrats."

With Senate contests in Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota still unresolved, the Democrats have increased from 51 to 57 seats in the 100-seat chamber. That includes two independent senators, Joe Lieberman and Bernie Saunders, who caucus with the Democrats.

In the House of Representatives, the Democrats have picked up 20 seats, reaching 255, with six out of 435 races still undecided.

"There's an opening here for a new Democratic majority. But it's just that, an opening," Schneider said. "It all depends on how President Obama does. And whether he can overcome the red-blue divide in the country - something neither of the baby-boomer presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, could do."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, with 1,246 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. SteveCO

    Reagan/Nixon '08 (the All-Dead candidates):
    "Funny how it is the same angry grumbling from the party out of power and the same gloating for those now in power, regardless of party title."

    Big differences exist. Let's see how soon the Democrats threaten to just turn off the right of a minority party to filibuster legislation in the Senate. The Republicans, of course, threatened to do that before the '06 elections. You know, when supporters of the Iraqi war ruled the country like smarmy self-righteous dictators.

    Maybe your tarring everything with the same brush is why so many stupid Americans *re*-elected Bush four years ago.

    Pull your head out of your butt. Viva la differance!

    November 11, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Debby

    So 1,246 people polled represent the whole US in that 59%. LOL

    November 11, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Jeff

    GARY November 11th, 2008 5:11 pm ET



    ^– Apparently there's a DESTRUCTION of education. Stop trying to sound smart and perhaps finish up high school.

    November 11, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Funny

    That's funny Rob, you know just the other day I was sitting here thinking that you must be one of those d-bag fear mongers I keep hearing about.

    November 11, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Brian-Omaha


    I feel so sorry for stupid people like you. The best argument you can make is filled with ignorant name-calling. How old are you? Your response to my comment really shows your 2nd grade intelligence level. Any Democrat in this blog will tell you that Obama was first against off-shore drilling, then changed his mind during the campaign and said he would be for it based on polling figures that showed nearly 65% of Americans, who were paying $4 gas at the time, thought drilling off-shore was desperately needed. Now, post-election, with gas prices tolerable again, Obama has gone back to his original position. He's not even President yet and already he's promising to break his promises. These are the facts dude, deal with it! Hey-I gotta get back to work so the money I earn can be re-distributed to lower income/lower status people like you who have no brain to make sensible decisions for themselves....the truth hurts! And if you were trying to spell your name as bored1...I just corrected you AGAIN!!!

    November 11, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. MG

    After seeing how republican control has screwed up the country, this kind of surprises me. However, it doesn't seem like the dems are nearly as partisan or selfish as when Bush/republicans had complete control. Hopefully, Obama will keep his primise to look after us, rather than his own interests.

    November 11, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |



    November 11, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Independent but Leaning

    Was this poll conducted in Washington DC? lol

    Ah well, the nation will sober up soon enough. I think we all remember how long the honeymoon lasted when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 and had an Dem Congress.

    November 11, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. Jeff in Illinois

    How does bringing offensive forces back within our borders qualify as "lowering our defenses"?

    November 11, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  10. Dixie AZ

    I'm happy that Republicans will no longer be in charge. As for Mr. Edwards making a comeback – not- I believe he would have a more successful career selling used cars.

    November 11, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |


    AMERICA IS HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 11, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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