CNN Poll: GOP has edge in early midterm indicator
December 26th, 2013
09:00 AM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: GOP has edge in early midterm indicator

Washington (CNN) - Democrats have lost their advantage and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates, and that the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be a low-turnout event, with only three in 10 registered voters extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year.

Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.

But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.

The 13-point swing over the past two months follows a political uproar over Obamacare, which included the botched rollout of and controversy over the possiblity of insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law.

"Virtually all the movement toward the GOP has come among men," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Fifty-four percent of female voters chose the Democratic candidate in October; 53% pick the Dem now. But among male voters, support for Democratic candidates has gone from 46% in October to just 35% now."

Republicans have a 17-seat advantage in the House and Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate.

While the generic ballot question is one of the most commonly used indicators when it comes to the battle for Congress, the poll results are a long way from predicting what will happen next November.

"There is just under a year to go before any votes are actually cast and the 'generic ballot' question is not necessarily a good predictor of the actual outcome of 435 separate elections," Holland cautioned.

"A year before the 2010 midterms, for example, the Democrats held a 6-point lead on the generic ballot but the GOP wound up regaining control of the House in that election cycle, thanks to an historic 63-seat pickup," he added.

Lack of enthusiasm

According to the poll, only three in 10 registered voters say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for Congress next year, compared to more than four in 10 who felt that way in late 2009. And 43% say they're not enthusiastic about voting, up from 25% who felt that way four years ago.

Democratic voters seem particularly unenthusiastic about voting, and that is likely to benefit the GOP. Thirty-six percent of Republicans say they're extremely or very enthusiastic about voting. That number drops to 22% among Democrats.

Another GOP advantage is the President's standing with the public: 55% of registered voters say that they are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who opposes the President than one who supports him and four in 10 say they are likely to vote for a candidate who supports Obama.

"Those kind of numbers spelled early trouble for the Democrats before the 1994 and 2010 midterms, and for the GOP before the 2006 elections," Holland said.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from December 16-19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: 2014 • CNN/ORC International poll
soundoff (654 Responses)
  1. Jules

    The GOP can actually win back the Senate, but their key is to keep a low profile heading into November, which is pretty hard for some members of that party. Thank God my state allows me to register Independent. I'm voting all incumbents outs in November.

    December 26, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. Rachel

    The GOP already knows this and why? Because the debacle called Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving.

    December 26, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. Boo

    Just goes to can't cure stupid...

    December 26, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Mack

    Yep CNN, help push people to vote against their best interests. Helps to pay the bills I guess. Anyone who is willing to vote Republican after reviewing their agenda is either rich or a moron.

    December 26, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  5. SD_CD

    America's collective stupidity never fails to astonish me.

    December 26, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  6. James

    Uh oh... by liberal standards, 49-44 is a landslide. If CNN has it 49-44, the actual number is probably 52-41. And with every new daily Obamacare screwup that gap is going to grow bigger and bigger.

    December 26, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  7. M. Mills

    Give me a break!!! Who are you polling?

    December 26, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  8. Mark Matis

    The GOP House has not yet folded on amnesty. Once they do so, it will be game over for the Republican party.

    December 26, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Nolegirl

    WHY, it is the GOP shutting down the Government.....

    December 26, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. Jeffro B Kirkus

    The Tea Party is the primary reason for the standstill in Congress, one of dozens of ways that these radicals have damaged America.

    December 26, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Joshua B

    QUICK!!!! Change the filibuster rule back!!! I can see Reid’s stroke riddled brain twitching as I type.

    December 26, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  12. Jim

    Vote out all Dems and incumbents, they have done enough harm

    December 26, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. Elucidated1

    This is a perfect non article. "generic polls' on Congress are silly. Notice there is NOT ONE state named here where the GOP will suddenly take out the Democrat Senator? Elections ARE by state and national hurt puppy polls are irrelevant.
    The bad news for the Republicans though, is that if they do not retake the Senate in 2014, and they won't, 2016 is going to bring voters out in droves during a time many Republican Senators are up for election.

    December 26, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. David

    1963 democrat: What can I do for my country?
    2013 Socialist democrat: What can my country do for me ???

    December 26, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. Gray

    I look forward to seeing all this "progress" reversed... and the protesters being struck down with aluminum batons.

    December 26, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Une

    Again this is Dnc propaganda so right leaning voters stay home thinking election is in the bag. I will vote along party lines. If GOP house passes immigration I will sit at home or maybe vote democrat just as a protest

    December 26, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Robyn

    I am sure that Republicans will take from this,
    the lesson that they can never do enough to
    harm Americans and be rewarded for it.

    A program to provide education or food
    or housing or jobs or health care for
    ordinary Americans? Let's do everything
    in our power to cause the program to fail.

    Then we'll run on the platform that
    "government is the problem."

    Sure, innocent people will be homeless
    or sick or hungry or uneducated.

    But that's our new slogan.
    "Who Cares?"

    December 26, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. SixDegrees

    I never would have predicted this just three months ago. Although it certainly is nice to see the GOP, at least, approaching a more rational, moderate stance.

    December 26, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. DemFromSC

    On the CNN web site, this headline is right above an article showing that a huge majority of us think that the current Congress is the least-productive in history. Given that the GOP-led House has blocked practically everything that the Democrats have wanted to do, it is logical to conclude that this second poll reflects the public's belief that the Republicans are nothing but obstructionists. And, yet, a very small majority claims to favor the GOP over Democrats in the next congressional election. As Boo said, you can't cure stupid!

    December 26, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. That guy

    Mack, anyone willing to vote democrat after this culmination of idiotic and disingenuous policies that continues unfold before our very eyes is suicidal at best.

    December 26, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. ob

    If the Democrats have any hope, they need to distance themselves from any "alliance" towards the President, and move towards what the American People want. And that is, the "CHANGE" the President promised from the get go. Which, unfortunately never happened. Keeping in mind that what the Republicans have, is nothing to offer either, something needs to "CHANGE".

    December 26, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. Namelinda

    How soon people forget that Republcans almost sent this country into a depression and it's a Democratic President that put this country on the road to recovery. Americans are hypocrits.

    December 26, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  23. Dug

    This isn't news, unless you haven't been paying attention to the Obamacare roll-out. Those of you that voted Dem, and can't afford insurance now, you got what you asked for. Non thinkers.

    December 26, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. Republiker

    The masses are tired of the nonsense delivered to us by the Democrat Freeloader Party.

    December 26, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. Dave - Phx

    Most democrats wont answer the damn phone polls...but you get a republican on there and they get a chance to spew their racist, facist hatred of America, and they will take the opportunity.

    December 26, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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