December 23, 2009 9:39 p.m. EST
Washington (CNN) -- Despite the bruising battle over their proposals to overhaul health care, congressional Democrats have maintained an advantage over their Republican counterparts on one key measure, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday indicates that a bare majority of Americans, 51 percent, believe that the Democrats' policies are good for the country, with 46 percent saying that those policies would take the U.S. in the wrong direction.
Fifty-three percent of people questioned in the poll said the GOP's polices would move the nation in the wrong direction, with 42 percent saying Republican policies are good for the country.
"The numbers for both parties are virtually unchanged since late August, just before President Barack Obama's health care speech to Congress opened the latest round of debate on this divisive issue," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.
Democrats will be defending their large majorities in Congress next year when all 435 House seats and more than a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs.
"This advantage on policy could be an important edge for the Democrats heading into the 2010 midterm elections," Holland added. "But independents will be the key to the midterms, and the numbers among independents spell bad news for both parties among that important group."