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GOP takes back the edge in 2014 midterm election polling

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Before the government shutdown and the botched launch of healthcare.gov, Democrats held a slight edge over Republicans on generic congressional ballots. Just a short month ago, Democrats were up 50 percent to 42 percent with the majority of Americans faulting the GOP for the shutdown and gridlock in Washington.

Fast-forward to now when Democrats woke up the day after Christmas to learn that Americans have done an about face for their 2014 congressional midterm picks.

The latest CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday shows Republicans holding a 49 percent to 44 percent advantage over Democrats in the generic ballot, which asks registered voters whether they would choose a Democrat or a Republican in the midterm elections.

"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. In the grand scheme of the electorate both parties hold a razor-thin majority in each chamber of Congress.

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 actually 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.

So how did Democrats get to this point and fall so fast in polling? Barack Obama.

According to that same CNN/ORC poll, 55 percent 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.

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