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. Jim McClaim

    If you vote for any incumbent whatsoever, you're part of the problem.

    Yes, I know *your* representative is doing a great job. It's everyone else's that's the problem, right? Wrong. Vote them all out.

    December 26, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. virginia gentleman

    This poll tells me men like being lied to a lot less than women.

    December 26, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Randycee

    The liberals, commie/socialists, and welfare class have nothing to worry about. As we know, the republicans only turn conservative by TALKING CONSERVATIVE at election time. Right after that they revert back to being a bunch of spineless jellyfish who crave being liked by people who will never like them. So it goes.

    December 26, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. deavyin

    Let me get this straight: Americans call this a "do nothing congress" they accept that it's due to partisan gridlock and they put the blame for the partial shut down at the feet of the GOP and their Tea Party show runners. Yet, they would be willing to give both houses of congress to the republicans because the affordable care act had a bad website? My god...i guess we get the congress we deserve. Let's let the Tea Party just slash and burn our government and raze it to the ground. Good bye social safety net.

    December 26, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. haha

    HAHAHA you ignorant libbies crying about this brings joy to my heart. Everyone knows the Republicans are the ones with morals and their hearts in the right places. We are gonna kick you all to the curb and show you what its like to be ridiculed, targeted, and stepped on. Serves you commies right. Facts hurt don't they.

    December 26, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. haha

    you are all low info voters. R's will win control and correct the trainwreck you suckers put us in. Serves you right. Get a job.

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  7. submarine

    I gotta watch MSNBC to see how much of this CNN poll is correct.

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. jnpa

    These must be the same polls that showed Romney winning the election.

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

    Just what you would expect from a LAN line telephone survey. Average age 75.

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. smith

    The failure of the ACA has turned the tide in favor of the GOP. Also, alot of folks on the dems side really don`t care about mid term elections, they get pumped up for the big one(potus).

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. Clinton Alexander

    the poll is a lie I don't believe this cnn poll

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. 1alien1

    amazing! you give morons freedom and look how they votr

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  13. Robert

    This poll is utterly meaningless. It has nothing to do with individual elections in individual districts. It tells us nothing about districts where the Republican will face a primary challenge by an extremist. And for posters who actually believe the ACA will be a determining factor, you know NOTHING about elections. The coming election will hinge entirely on how extreme the candidates are in each race, and how the economy does between now and next November.

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. allenwoll

    Once again, the American Electorate gives conclusive evidence that it is IN-competent ! ! ! - An easy prey to J-Goebbels-Style propaganda ! ! !

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  15. bman

    The GOP sent over plenty of funding bills that the obstructionist harry reid refused to bring up. Harry Reid and democrats own the shutdown.

    December 26, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  16. tom l

    In 1961, John F. Kennedy said "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country"

    Unfortunately, today's liberal views it the exact opposite and asks "What can government do for me?"

    December 26, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. baelknight

    People saying "but why, the GOP stopped the govt, why would people vote them back in??" have to realize that they were also doing the will of the people they represent.

    America is so polarized and disjointed, half of the country DOES want to see it all shut down. Of course those people are going to keep voting in the ones that shut the govt down. They want it to continue.

    December 26, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. nuclear mike

    Thank you Obama for destroying the Democratic Party by exposing the true platforms that the DNC wants to "socialize" America totally!!!

    December 26, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. Fair is Fair


    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?
    Alaska and Arkansas come to mind right off the bat. There will be others. But hey... YOU weren't polled, right? Your friends and family weren't polled, right? So the poll can't be scientific, right?

    December 26, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. DonJuan1943

    An "ill-informed American public" will get exactly what it deserves in the next election cycle. The media superstars have joined the country club; and they report only report what the 1% aristocracy wants them to report. ...sort of like the 1932 election cycle in Germany. Read "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich" by John L. Shirer.

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

    The poll only has 1,035 people in the sample with a 3% margin of error???? That would break down to asking 20 people in each state, the District of Columbia, and 15 folks among the U S territories. There should be a much higher sample for national issues, and if a company has a 3% margin of error on such a small sample then CNN needs new pollsters.

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

    The worm has turned for the libs.

    December 26, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. critical thinking

    Are Americans finally discovering that nothing if FREE?

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

    Good news. America is finally waking up and supporting freedom over the oppression brought to us by Obama and the Democrats.

    December 26, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Good Grief

    "...questioned by telephone..."

    Oh yeah, there's yer reliability indicator!

    December 26, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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