Democrats hold biggest lead in congressional preference since 2008

Fresh off their victory in Alabama’s special Senate election, Democrats now enjoy their largest advantage in congressional preference in nine years, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, signaling a dangerous political environment for Republicans entering next year’s midterm elections.

Fifty percent of registered voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 39 percent who want Republicans in charge.

The last time Democrats both held a double-digit lead and hit 50 percent on this question in the NBC/WSJ poll was September 2008, right before the party won the White House and picked up a substantial number of House and Senate seats.

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This past October, Democrats had a 7-point advantage on congressional preference, 48 percent to 41 percent.

In this most recent poll, Democrats hold a whopping 48-point lead in congressional preference among voters ages 18-34 (69 percent to 21 percent), a 20-point lead among female voters (54 percent to 34 percent) and a 12-point lead among independent voters (43 percent to 31 percent).

By contrast, Republicans have a 2-point edge among white voters (46 percent to 44 percent) and a 12-point advantage with whites without a college degree (50 percent to 38 percent).

Notably, Democrats lead among male voters by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent, and among seniors by 4 points, 46 percent to 42 percent.

The NBC/WSJ poll also shows Democrats with the intensity advantage, with 59 percent of Democratic voters saying they have a high level of interest in next year’s elections (registering either a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale), versus 49 percent of Republican voters saying the same thing.

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Harvey Weinstein with Clinton, Obama and other top Democrats
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Harvey Weinstein with Clinton, Obama and other top Democrats
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Georgina Chapman and Harvey Weinstein attend the TIME 100 Gala celebrating TIME'S 100 Most Infuential People In The World at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for TIME)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Georgina Chapman and Harvey Weinstein attend the TIME 100 Gala celebrating TIME'S 100 Most Infuential People In The World at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for TIME)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - OCTOBER 6: Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton attend Special Premiere of SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER to Benefit the Kennedy Center with Former President Bill Clinton as Guest of Honor at Pier Sixty on October 6, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - OCTOBER 6: (L-R) Kerry Kennedy, Harvey Weinstein, Ethel Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Mary Richardson Kennedy attend Special Premiere of SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER to Benefit the Kennedy Center with Former President Bill Clinton as Guest of Honor at Pier Sixty on October 6, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Harvey Weinstein during Miramax premiere of 'Finding Neverland' at Brooklyn Museum of Art in Brooklyn, New York, United States. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)
Marty Markowitz, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Harvey Weinstein (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: Senator Hillary Clinton and Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein arrive at the Brooklyn Museum for the premiere of Miramax Films 'Finding Neverland' October 25, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
President Bill Clinton and Miramax Chief, Harvey Weinstein at Hillary Clinton's Birthday Party at the Hudson Hotel in New York City. October 25, 2000 (Photo: Nick Elgar/ImageDirect)
President Bill Clinton and Miramax Chief, Harvey Weinstein at Hillary Clinton's Birthday Party at the Hudson Hotel in New York City. October 25, 2000 (Photo: Nick Elgar/ImageDirect)
375603 02: President Clinton talks with Miramax studio boss Harvey Weinstein, center, and an unidentified woman August 7, 2000 at West Chop Lighthouse on Marthas Vineyard, MA. The Clintons attended a fund-raiser for the first lady at Weinstein's home. (Photo by Stephen Rose/Newsmakers)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 03: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is joined by actress Gwyneth Paltrow (center) and Harvey Weinstein at the premiere of 'Shakespeare in Love' at the Ziegfeld Theater. Paltrow stars in the movie; Weinstein produced it. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - Gwyneth Paltrow (L), Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Harvey Weinstein at the film premiere of 'Shakespeare in Love.' (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Jennifer Lawrence presents Former President of the United States Bill Clinton with the Advocate for Change Award onstage during the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards presented by Ketel One and Wells Fargo at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Tachman/Getty Images for GLAAD)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) Harvey Weinstein, Senator John McCain, (R-AZ), Hillary Clinton and General Colin Powell attend the 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' premiere presented by The Weinstein Company and sponsored by American Express and South African Airlines at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama gets animated while hosting a workshop at the White House for high school students about careers in film in Washington November 8, 2013. Also pictured is producer Harvey Weinstein (L) and actress Blake Lively (R). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)
Film producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein laughs at remarks directed at him by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama as she hosts a workshop at the White House for high school students about careers in film in Washington November 8, 2013. At right is actress Whoopi Goldberg. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)
Senator Obama, Harvey Weinstein, Senator Lautenberg and Senator Schumer *EXCLUSIVE* ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC -- NOVEMBER 8: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a workshop at the White House for high school students from DC, New York and Boston about careers in film on Friday, November 8, 2013. Over the years, Mrs. Obama has opened the White House to students to learn about everything from music to diplomacy, sports to poetry. On the panel from left to right are director David Frankel, director Ryan Coogler, production executive Harvey Weinstein, actress Whoopi Goldberg, actress Blake Lively, obscured from view, actress Naomie Harris, producer Bruce Cohen, and editor-at-large of The Oprah Magazine Gayle King. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Producer and studio executive, Harvey Weinstein in attendance as U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer commemorates last week's change in federal tax law benefits with Broadway Stars at Sardi's on December 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Studio Executive Harvey Weinstein attends as U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer commemorates last week's change in federal tax law benefits with Broadway Stars at Sardi's on December 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: US Senator Charles E. Schumer, Matthew Morrison and Studio Executive Harvey Weinstein attend as U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer commemorates last week's change in federal tax law benefits with Broadway Stars at Sardi's on December 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Kirsten Gillibrand and Harvey Weinstein attend the TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 most influential people in the world, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME)
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Additionally, 62 percent of voters who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 have a high level of interest in next year’s midterms, compared with 50 percent of Trump voters.

"A double-digit margin here is an important indicator of Democratic intensity," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollsters from Hart Research Associates.

And the NBC/WSJ poll — which was conducted right after Democrats’ surprising Senate victory in Alabama — finds President Donald Trump’s job approval rating at 41 percent among all Americans, which is up three points from October, while 56 percent of Americans disapprove.

But those who “strongly disapprove” of Trump’s job (48 percent) outnumber those who say they “strongly approve” (24 percent) by a 2-to-1 margin.

“All in all, I think a 41 percent Trump approval and an +11D lead in the control of Congress definitely puts control of the Senate and the House as more doable for Democrats in 2018,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Dec. 13-15 of 900 adults – nearly half reached by cell phone – and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. The margin of error among the 736 registered voters is plus-minus 3.6 percentage points. 

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