Democrats took a narrow 48 to 45 percent lead in the latest generic ballot polling from Gallup.

The last Gallup generic ballot poll taken in early November showed Republicans leading Democrats 48 to 44 percent. 


Independents largely drove the swing from Republican to Democrat. In the latest poll independent registered voters favored the Republican candidates by only four points 44 to 40 percent. In November, independents' backed Republicans by a much wider margin, 52 to 30 percent.

Gallup notes that the gap is the narrowest for Republicans among independents since July, when Republicans lead Democrats among the key group 43 to 42.

The poll comes as Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) became the fourth Democrat to announce his retirement in recent weeks, spurring speculation that Republicans could make inroads into the Democratic majority in the 2010 midterm elections.

The poll spells good news for Democrats among the spat of retirements, but Gallup points out that Republicans usually enjoy a greater advantage in turnout during midterm contests. 

"Republicans...typically enjoy a turnout advantage," Gallup analysts wrote. "Thus, even if Democrats go into the election with a slim advantage in registered voters' preferences -- as is the case in the current poll -- they could quite likely end up with a lower percentage of the overall congressional vote than Republicans receive."

93 percent of both registered Democrats and Republicans favored their respective parties in the generic ballot.

The survey polled 898 registered voters, aged 18 and older, between Dec. 11 through 13. The margin of error is 4 percent.