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. David in Dallas

    Even George W. Bush, who is certainly not that bright, knew to always play to his base. Obama quickly abandoned those of us in his party who wanted a new, new deal with stimulus money going to build infrastructure, not to Wall Street bankers. We wanted universal, single-payer health care so that every American could be covered. It is an emabarrassment that we are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't provide health care to all its citizens. We wanted an end to wars that waste money and don't provide results against terror. There are always going to be terrorists. We need to protect this country, not spend lives and money in other countries. Let those people destroy each other. Obama lied throughout the campaign and said what he needed to get elected. I am certainly not a Republican, but I am no longer a Democrat either.

    January 15, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Kevin

    Just goes to show that stupid democrats are just as stupid as stupid republicans.

    January 15, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Robert

    Is anyone really going to vote for the party of "NO"? Give me a break people are not that stupid. The gop is done and any election will show that. Where are they taking these polls anyway? No one in this area has been asked.

    January 15, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Triple A

    Democrats have a "super majority" lets see what they have passed for real legislation.... fixing the economy, nope... creating jobs, nope... spending money oh yaaaa plenty of it.... All they been focusing on which is like issue 4 or 5 with the American people is health care. Why are they so interested in health care. #1 reason is they realize they can get money for their vote and are shameless at taking bribes (basically that is what they are only leagle) #2 reason is that the government is going to take a lot more money from us in taxes and that always gets them excited. and #3 reason is that this health care has nothing to do with them because they are exempt from it and of course you have to wonder why that is. The Republicans have their faults but at least it felt like we were taking a slow boat to China instead of the bullet train.

    January 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. David

    Well, look at what they are doing to this country. I'd be lacking in enthusiasm, too.

    January 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. DemocratinWisconsin

    I think the democrats are doing just fine, but would answer a poll regarding my enthusiasm for the 2010 elections as low. It is January. The election is in November. I am enthusiastic about other things right now. Check with democrats later.

    Are the only people who write comments here very negative people? The name-calling is amazing!

    January 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Al of Boston

    When the Dems of MA get crushed by the Independents
    and Repubs of MA...that's a sea change, and shows just how
    dissatisfied people are with the President's tactics and lefty agenda.

    January 15, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Mike

    "Now the Republicans will wipeout the Supermajority and this wonderful President will be relegated to ordinary. "

    Jay, what planet do you live on? Wonderful President? This guy is atrocious. He and the Democrats are destroying this country. I did not thing anyone could be worse than George W. Bush but Nobama has got him beat. This country's debt levels will balloon astronomically over the next 10 years due to the current administration's spending. Jay, I hope 10 years from now you will enjoy living in a third world country because that is where the USA is headed.

    January 15, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. ToughLove

    Convervative Positions still reign as common sense and the right direction. The problem was we had a Republican president who DIDN'T ACT LIKE A CONSERVATIVE when it came to the economy!! And now, there's buyer's remorse on this liberal president. We must pray that the new Conservative leadership leads as a Conservative!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Mary

    We "are" remembering Bush – that's why we want that type of government back. No more of this Chicago-style politics!

    January 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. jim Cal

    Yeah baby, and it's starting with Mass. Even if the Rep. don't win, to make the showing they did speaks tons in a state that's be Dem for years.

    January 15, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Todd

    A wake up call for sure. No more playing fotsy with the gop in the senate. Skrew them. They held up health care for months in the cynical beleif that most people do not have any idea of how our government functions. hey were right, even though they are wrong on the issue. Democrats need to play hard ball from here on out. Too many people are too poorly informed or worse they watch that ceaspool fux channel and mistake it for news. Enough already. the republicon mindset was captured perfectly in statemnet by robertson and limbaugh this week. robertson blamed the hatit earthquale on centuries old satanic pacts, and limbaugh, ever the humanitarian urged people to NOT give relief to Haiti, and called it a political ploy by Obama t boost his approval ratings. THAT is republicon party pure and simple. Vile, despicable, obscene, and medieval.

    January 15, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Senses

    When you go to the polls.. look back 8 years !!! and if your nation puts Republicans in charge again, please don't complain about anything

    January 15, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Ed

    I am constantly hoping that US citizens would first remember and learn what it was that got this country into its current situation. It was bad trade policies with other industrialized nations, bad domestic policies in regards to moving the country away from 'foreign entanglements', namely the importing of oil from volitile regions/countries as well as fiscal responsibility such as unfunded mandates and recent actions that are tantamount to 'robbing the poor to feed the rich'.

    I am not going to let any political leader; Senator, Congressperson, or President get a pass simply because of party affiliation. I am going to hold their feet to the fire to make them do what they were elected for, and I hope that others will do the same and keep in mind, which ideals, which group of elected officials have gotten us into this position and want to keep on doing these things, and who is it that's trying to change things for the betterment of ALL US citizens, not just merely the wealthy and powerful?

    January 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. JJ

    How quickly the people forget who put us in the shape we are in today. Our country was run into the ground by Obama and his DEM Party. Look at what a mess they left for our children. I shutter to think what could have happened if the DEMs retain control of everything. They have made no effort whatsoever to help the American people. All they do is spend, spend, spend. They are envious and jealous of the fact that the American people are smart and puts Obama to shame. Obama is just a puppet! Someone had to pull the strings to wake him up. And he could not speak in front of anyone without a teleprompter!! You all know that he is the worst President our country will ever have. The DEMs created this mess and yet you are so stupid as to want to leave them in control again. I can't imagine that the American people would cave in so easily. Anyone even considering voting Democrat is a total idiot. God help us if that bunch of incompetents keep power!!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. American Feminist

    Democrats are discouraged because they expected change to happen more quickly, which is unrealistic. But, true liberals and progressive Democrats will not forget who put our country in this terrible situation. Republicans have always had bigger mouths (the squeaky wheel gets the oil), so it may seem that they are gaining ground. But, when push comes to shove, we will show up at the polls and keep the Democrats in power. Repeat after me, America...


    January 15, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Larry from Mass.

    I'm a democrat in Massachusetts and I'm voting for BROWN!!!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Positive

    How quickly people forget how the GOP has nearly ruined this country. And what has the GOP done to help us get out of this mess? Nothing. They tell lies, try to tear our President down in any way they can and obstruct an progress.

    Frankly, if people are foolish enough to vote for more of that or too lazy to go vote to keep us on a path to recovery, then this country deserves what it gets.

    January 15, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. bob

    Don't worry, the GOP will defeat themselves just like they did in the last election.

    January 15, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Hugo

    Democrats are turned off because the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the Progressive liberals (aka Marxists, Socialists) that think America should be turned into a third world Europe type Nation. Republicans are turned off because they are sick of their elected officials promising fiscal responsibility then failing to attain. Americans are sick of being ignored and treated like tax paying provider farm animals for the uber-elite dips that have no clue what it is like to make an honest dollar for an honest days work! For those in political office that have parlayed elected office into a cash machine think there wont be accountability, you better think again!

    RAT KILLIN' TIME IS COMING! 2010 then 2012!!

    January 15, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Henry

    It didn't take long for "Mr. TALK" to take us down the road. All talk and just bad action. Obama and his staff are really clueless and did not take long to show us.

    PS We are LESS safe than we every were. Wake up donkeys!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Seth

    Dems will be fine if the economy improves. If not, they'll bleed bad. But that's always the case for the party in power in a bad economy. Right now the economy is in the toilet and everyone, from the dem base to independents and republicans are unhappy about the health care bill. Only Lieberman and Nelson are happy about HCR. So of course they aren't excited. November is an entirely different matter.

    January 15, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Charles

    What we need is a balance in our government. The dems are spending to much of my money trying to buy either others votes, which should be against the law. 100 million there, 100 million here. I cant afford it any more. I killing me. the american people do not when one party is in control. We need balance.

    January 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. james Miller

    It`s time for the Demos to step up and follow the PUBLIC opinion. --That being said, I still haven`t forgotten the party "asleep at the wheel" the previous 8 yrs and I don`t trust them either.

    January 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Ramiro Villarreal

    Yea,Scott Brown and this coming from a former Democrat. Hope Republicans take over Democrats have shown they are nothing but "Big
    Time Idiots. Yea, Republicans keep kidding Butts. Oh forgot to state I am

    January 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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