Does the CNN Poll Mean Anything?

In the election of 1940, FDR declared that he would run for an unprecedented third term as US President. Presidential term limits were not amended into the constitution until late in the Truman presidency, it was done so as a republican reaction to FDR’s four successful runs for the office.  In the 1940 election, the Democratic Party bosses tried to pick Roosevelt’s running mate for him, but FDR wanted the Progressive Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace on the ticket.  Although Wallace supported the Democratic presidential candidates in 1928 and 1932, he was a member of the Republican Party until 1936.  His progressive ideas and acts went deeper than a party name and FDR knew this, but the party leaders still questioned Wallace’s loyalty.  As a result, FDR wrote a letter to the party declaring that he would not accept the nomination unless Wallace was on the ticket.  The officials agreed, but didn’t forget.  In 1944, FDR decided to run for a fourth term.  Wallace was a staunch progressive that was shaking things up and the officials had found out that he supported emancipation of colonial subjects after WWII.  As a result, the party bosses did everything in their power to stop Wallace from appearing on the ticket in 1944.  They chose Harry Truman as Wallace’s successor.   Wallace was polling over 60% at the Democratic Convention that year, Truman at just 2%.  A little party trickery and 3 ballots later, Truman won the nomination. 

On April 12, 1945, just weeks after his fourth inauguration, FDR passed away, leaving Truman in office.

All eyes were on Truman as the country was unsure of the talents of our newest president.  Just 1.5 years later, in the election of 1946, the republican party swept 55 House seats and 12 Senate seats, giving them control of both chambers of congress for the first time in nearly 20 years.

This infamous “Do Nothing Congress” blocked everything that Harry Truman tried to get through.  The congress even went so far as to override Truman’s veto of the Taft-Hartley Act which effectively began the dismantling of unions in this country.


in the election of 1948 (“Dewey Defeats Truman”) Harry Truman used this do nothing congress to win a second term as president.  By calling out the Republican lead congress, Truman let the American people know the difference between his agenda and the agenda of the Republicans in congress.  The Democrats picked up 75 house seats, nine Senate seats, and the White House, giving them complete control once again.  It would be more than 40 years before the Republicans would take back the House of Representatives and more than 50 years before the American people gave them control of both congressional chambers and the White House. (which lead to the crash of 2008)


The congress that Truman called “do nothing” passed over 300 bills into law.  Our current congress passed 55 laws in 2013.  At this pace, they will be lucky to pass half the amount of laws that the 80th congress passed under Harry Truman.

Americans continue to give congress some of the lowest approval ratings in history.  In a CNN poll that was released on Dec. 26th, nearly 3/4s of those polled said that this is a do nothing congress. 

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said: "That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old - all think this year's Congress has been the worst they can remember, Older Americans - who have lived through more congresses - hold more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans. Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes.”

Transcending party lines, the polls finds that 52% believe Democratic ideas will take us in the wrong direction and 54% believe Republican ideas will take us in the wrong direction. 

Despite all of this, the poll is gaining attention because it shows that the Republicans have an edge going into 2014.

Two months ago, Dems had a 50-42 edge.  Now the Republicans are showing a 49-44 lead.  The poll also reflects the election of 2010 in that only 3 out of 10 voters are excited about 2014.  Low turnout is always good for the Republicans, hence their voter suppression efforts.  

CNN reports that the poll found the swing comes from male voters who were going for Dems at a rate of 46% in October and just 35% now.  They attribute the drop to the botched website rollout of Obamacare.

Of course we are 10 months out from an election.  That is a lifetime in politics.  We saw this swing take place over just two months.  As candidates declare over then next several months the races will begin to shape up.  The GOP was expecting to win the Senate in 2010 and 2012, but once they rolled out their candidates, those wishes faded quickly.

The GOP is banking on Obamacare as the top issue in 2014.  The Democrats feel it will be income inequality.  As more and more people sign up for Obamacare and realize that there are no more pre-existing conditions, no more lifetime caps, and poor people will qualify for free coverage, these polls are going to change.

It is time for both parties to mobilize for the mid-term elections, but reading too much into polling that is ten months out is not recommended.  The Democrats held a six point edge in January of 2010, but the GOP swept that election.

Listen to Civil Discourse Radio (Progressive Grassroots Radio) for our complete thoughts:

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