POLLING THE PARTIES’ VISIONS…. There have been plenty of polls of late, many of which show Republicans gaining strength. But a CNN poll released yesterday offered some discouraging news to the minority party: people still don’t think Republican policies are good for the country.

Despite the bruising battle over their health care reform proposals, congressional Democrats have maintained an advantage over their Republican counterparts on one key measure, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation 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 country in the wrong direction.

By contrast, 53 percent of people questioned in the poll say that the GOP’s polices would move the nation in the wrong direction, with 42 percent saying Republican policies are good for the country.

That’s a tough nut to crack, and it’s no doubt a consequence of the failures of the Bush era, which will should take quite a while to live down. That Republicans’ preferred policies haven’t changed at all — if given power, they’d go right back to the Bush policies that didn’t work — doesn’t help.

But looking at the internals (pdf) suggest the GOP isn’t even moving in the right direction. The poll found a 53% majority believing that Republican policies would move the country in the wrong direction. CNN and Gallup polls have been asking this question for a while, and going back over the last 15 years, it’s never been higher than 53%.

“This advantage on policy could be an important edge for the Democrats heading into the 2010 midterm elections,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

Maybe, maybe not. Elections rarely seem to come down to policy or substantive merit, but it’s an edge that may count for at least something.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.