January 15th, 2010
07:05 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Big dip in enthusiasm among Democratic voters

Washington (CNN) - Democrats face a growing enthusiasm gap in this year's battle for Congress, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates Americans are split in their choice for Congress in November's midterm elections, with Republicans making gains at the Democrats' expense.

Forty-nine percent of Republicans questioned in the poll say they're extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year, up 6 points from November. Thirty-one percent of Democrats say they're enthusiastic, down 11 points.

"Democrats face a huge 'enthusiasm gap,' and that gap is growing," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the poll indicates that roughly half of all registered voters may change their minds between now and Election Day, so there is plenty of time for the playing field to change."

According to the survey, 48 percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Republican candidate for Congress, with 45 percent saying they'd back the Democrat. The 3-point edge for the GOP is within the poll's sampling error - but it's a switch from November, when the Democrats held a 50 to 44 percent advantage. The generic ballot question asked respondents if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates.

"That 3-point difference doesn't sound too bad for the Democrats, but the party's numbers are boosted by high levels of support in districts that the GOP has no chance of winning this year," says Holland. "In safe Democratic districts, the Dems have a 21-point advantage over the GOP."

The poll paints a different picture in more competitive districts, those where the incumbent won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. In those districts, the poll indicates Democrats are currently facing a 27-point deficit, with 59 percent of registered voters in the competitive districts now saying they would vote for the Republican candidate for U.S. House if the election were held tomorrow, and only 32 percent that they would choose the Democratic candidate.

"That suggests big losses for the Democrats this November. But keep in mind that there is a lot of white noise in the data, because it is almost impossible to accurately model individual House districts," adds Holland.

The poll indicates that 2010 is shaping up to be a bad year for incumbents regardless of party. Just a third of all Americans say they would prefer to vote for an incumbent this year than a challenger, with 46 percent saying they would rather vote for the challenger and one in five adding that it makes no difference.

"Those numbers are roughly the same as they were at the start of 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House. Challengers are seen as more honest than incumbents, more likely to bring change, and more likely to represent the views of the voters," says Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 8-10, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Democrats currently hold a 256-178 advantage in the House of Representatives, with one seat formerly held by the Democrats vacant. The GOP needs to win back 40 House seats in November to regain control of the chamber.

Full results (pdf)

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2010 • CNN poll • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Ruth

    I'm a Democrat and proudly voted for Obama.
    What a huge mistake!
    I don't belong to a union so I won't get the special deal he made with the Unions and I live in NC so our state will not get any special deals.
    But then maybe all this is not true since it was all done in the backrooms, you know the new transparency in action.
    This President played us all for a fool and we swallowed it hook line and sinker.
    You can keep blaming Bush but that don't cut it, Obama lied, plain and simple.
    This bunch in the White House is worse then the mafia and if you think I'm bitter, you are right I was a fool to believe.
    We got change alright but nobody told us it would be worse rather then better.

    January 15, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. Ken in Gainesville

    If the Democrats fail, the radical right will take over the country and eliminate all progressive ideals and the people themselves. If you like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, you better be prepared.

    January 15, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. James A.

    Remember what happened after the great Library of Alexendria was destroyed by an angry mob - and nobody cared.

    The Dark Ages, my freiend.

    January 15, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. realUSA

    we dont want vote for the party No standa No ethical just for free loader and criminal ,No moral and so corrup like chicago politic s bribe and treat buy vote since 100 years ago , ONE party to make communist party

    January 15, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  5. ed d

    Funny how the Dems controlled the house for the last 2 years under W to current and the Dem voters are already blaming possible Repub 2010 victories for things not getting done. Those crazy liberalals always need to blame everyone else. I guess it's becuase they've had such a stellar track record to date. I guess facts and common sense went bye bye to those sheep long ago.

    January 15, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Indy

    This poll dosent mean squat. There is no way Americans are stupid enough to reward Republicans for nearly ruining the country, and doing absolutley nothing since Obama won the election. There is so much hate and racism towards Obama, but he is getting things done and avoided a complete collapse of the economy all while having all the hate and oppostion from the right. Putting Republicans back in power would be like dropping charges on Bin Laden. You cant terrorize a country like the Republicans did for the past nine years and reward them with control.I don't buy the polls and the results will not reflect this poll and it would be like committing suicide to allow the Republicans back in.Cheer up dems, ain't no way no how this poll will be correct when the times comes.

    January 15, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. Kirk

    Hogwash. Time to finish kicking the Grand Oil Party out of Washington, once and for all. I am fired up, and ready to donate TONS of time and TONS of money – AGAIN.

    Bush spent 8 years DESTROYING this country, and might take at least 8 to fix it, and the Democratic Party is the only choice of the two.

    January 15, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. independent

    I don't know whom you are polling. I am very enthusiastic. This President is head and shoulders the best we've had in a long time. I can hardly wait for years 2-4, and beyond.

    January 15, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. Bubba likes it right

    The trill is gone after 3 years of Democratic control of both houses. They did nothing but spend and tax and debt. Please Massachusetts save America.

    January 15, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. Jack P. Scott

    American's must think Canada is a mystery. Here we are one of the most respected countries in the world. We have medical coverage for all our population and we have NOT gone broke or in mass poverty.

    Our banking system is the envy of the world and yet you still come up with all these cockamamie excuses about not giving your population proper medical coverage.

    The latest rant from Massachusetts is a prime example of trying to stampede the population against full coverage for all American.

    Get with it.

    January 15, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. usualone

    Several Democrats, including myself, have not been polled, so one cannot be sure how Democrats think. It is still toooo early to judge President Obama. The big problem is that Americans are used to immediate results. Things of substance do not work that way. Otherwise we rush into wars that are not needed. I'd rather the President take his time and get it right the first time. How quickly we forget the results of the past 8 years. We have got to get off this quick fix idea if that is at all possible.

    January 15, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. skyeyesds

    People are so impatient, and think all Obama needs to do is wiggle his nose and presto everything is great. He came into office with an over flowing plate full. He doesn't jump into important issues without thinking it out first. Get a Repug back in and heaven help all the non wealthy. Just think about it. Why do the Repugs have stamped on their head "NO" ?

    January 15, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. David

    Dems in trouble in Mass. ? – no sweat – Acorn to the rescue – everything will be fine!

    January 15, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  14. Republicansdisgustme

    Nobody's happy with the Democrats. Everybody hates the Republicans and laughs at the ignorance and comedy acts of the Teabaggers.
    I am not worried. The conservatives are.

    January 15, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. JL

    The Dems made the same mistake that the Republicans made in 2004, THEY GOT COCKY.

    January 15, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. Marie Laveaux

    i am sad to say i have a so-called" Blue Dog" for a Representative, and I would vote for a dead dog before I'd vote for this clown. However, the dead dog must not be a Republican. And Mike in MN, don't speak for Democrats if you're not one. I am still greatly enthusiastic about President Obama, and If you reactionaries would just shut up and go away we might just get some meaningful change.

    January 15, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. tee

    Look at all these repugs posting......wishing they had a chance.....The question is.......What have the repugs done for America over the last 20 years......NOTHING.....what are they doing now.....NOTHING.....I WILL GIVE THIS PRESIDENT MORE THEN ONE YEAR TO CORRECT THIS MESS....THE NAYSAYERS DIDN'T VOTE FOR HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    January 15, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. Warhawk

    You keep saying how the GOP ran the country into the ground. How long have the Democrats had the majority in congress? Job losses began to esculate right after they had control. I think our best chance is to have split control of the goverment between the 2 partys (with a few independents in the mix). That way they offset the most extreme elements of the other party.
    Yes, Bush did not make the best decisions in many situtations, but I suspect history will think better of him than the media does now.

    January 15, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. Cal

    Wow, I'm surprised by my fellow Americans. I thought for sure we were set along socialist/communist path of destruction. Well it's the repubs to lose. lesser of two weevils. Wouldn't have a problem with dem politicians if they taxed the hell out of the rich, but they ain't cause most of them and their friends are the rich. Dem politicians on average are richer them repub politicians, same goes for the really rich.

    January 15, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. mot

    Anyone even considering voting Republican is a total idiot. God help us if that bunch of incompetents take over again!!!!!
    Doraine Gordon.

    You have got to kidding right!! Lets establish who the idiot is here you uninformed twitt.

    January 15, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. Obama Victim

    I don't get it. Why does anyone think Cap and Trade is good for this country? Everywhere else it has been tried has resulted in massive job losses. This is not a bill to help the common man, this is a bill to make corporations and bankers rich as they trade carbon credits.

    While we need health care reform, this bill is nothing more than a windfall for special interests. Under this administration, only the special interests have changed. Now it's the Unions, the Trial Lawyers, the Drug Companies, etc.

    When will the "common man" wake up and understand that the government cannot give anyone anything. The government does not earn money – it takes it from the people. All the government can do is take the people's money and give it back to them (less fraud, waste and abuse) in another form.

    Wake up America! A government big enough to give you things is a government big enough to take them away.

    January 15, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. LouisM

    Although the Congress of this country has always had less than a sterling reputation for integrity, it is now hitting new lows on a daily basis. There is nothing this bunch of scoundrels will not do. However, what goes around comes around. These wannabe gangsters will soon be on the outside looking in.

    January 15, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. jsmith

    Beleive me, even if this health care Bill passes, the people of this country will repeal it, there are 22 states with Constitutional lawyers ready to fight it, and I bet more states will follow as soon as we get these Corrupted Dems out of office. We need health care reform, but Obama is waisting our time and hurting this country trying to do it by corruption.

    January 15, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. m jeff

    After eight years of Republican disaster, I will not lose enthusiasm after one year. It will take ten years to fix what the last administration broke.

    January 15, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  25. S and T

    I am so Sick and Tired of this President and Congress that I wish they would all leave. They are paving a path towards nothing but debt and servitude. That's not to say that I want the Bushtonians to return to office. But I am hoping for a major shake up in 2010 that will produce a fiscal conservative, pro-peace, anti-interference, anti-"One World Order" government that is going to keep us out of war and debt. One that is pro-labor and pro-environment. One that is pro-small business and anti-Big Government.

    Tall order I know, but I happen to think that you can be fiscally conservative, upholding traditional values, without being a right winger and be progressive without being a leftist nutcase.

    January 15, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
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