Voters Have Mixed Feelings about Mid Term Elections

Reading Time: 8 minutes

ByUSDR.

congress

A new year is on the horizon – and with it a new U.S. Congress, with Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the weeks since the midterms the pundits have all provided their respective two cents as to the reasoning behind the election results and what it will mean for the political landscape and the United States as a whole. But what do the American people think? When asked in a broad manner about the recent congressional elections, a third each believe the outcome is a good thing (33%) and a bad thing (34%) for America, with an additional third unsure(33%).

  • While a predictable majority of Republicans see it as a good thing (67%) and an equally foreseeable majority of Democrats see it as a bad thing (58%), Independents are split: 31% each characterize the results as a good thing and as a bad thing, with the remaining 38% not sure.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,255 adults surveyed online between December 10 and 15,2014.

Americans remain divided when asked more specifically whether it is good or bad for the country to have a president and a majority in Congress belonging to different parties, with 33% seeing it as good, 31% as bad and 36% unsure. The executive and legislative branches of our government have spent much of their time at one impasse or another in recent years, and this may have contributed to the worsening perception of a divided government. The 33% seeing it as good represents a six point decline from the 39% recorded in December 2010, the last time the question was asked; meanwhile, the 31% perceiving it as bad represents 8 points’ growth from December 2010’s23%.

Collaborationconcerns

One factor which may be leading many Americans to question whether a divided government will be an effective one is collaboration – or rather, a lackthereof.

Americans are divided on whether President Obama will try to work with Republicans in Congress, with 46% agreeing he will and 44% disagreeing; 10% are unsure. Political breakouts on this question show expected leanings, with 75% of Democrats feeling he will, 78% of Republicans feeling he won’t and Independents divided (43% agree that he will while 44%disagree).

  • More telling is the drop in this perception compared to December 2010, just after President Obama’s re-election; the 46% believing the president will try to work with Republicans in Congress represents a 16-point drop since the 62% observed at that time.

While Americans may be divided on whether Obama will try to work with Republicans in Congress, nearly six in ten Americans (58%) concur that Republicans in Congress will not try to work with him; 31% – down 6 points from 37% in December 2010 – feel Republicans in Congress will attempt to work with thepresident.

  • Just over half of Republicans (52%) anticipate their party-mates in Congress will try to work with the president, while majorities of both Democrats (75%) and Independents (58%) disagree.

When you add up all this uncertainty given the partisan divisions between the White House and Congress, it may not come as a surprise that only a fourth of Americans (25%) are confident that the government will do what needs to be done for the country; two-thirds of Americans (67%) are not confident, while 8% are unsure. Confidence is especially low among Independents (19%, vs. 31% Republicans and 27%Democrats).

Room for improvement – lots ofit

Americans’ lack of confidence that their leaders will be able to work together may be reflective of poor impressions of these leadersoverall.

The survey – which was fielded prior to President Obama’s decision to ease restrictions on Cuba last week – found a third of Americans (33%) giving the president positive ratings on the overall job he’s doing and two-thirds (67%) assigning negative marks. Looking more specifically at how he’s doing in regards to the economy, 34% give the president positive ratings, 66% negative. Positive ratings are down a bit from November, when 35% each gave him positive ratings overall and for the job he was doing on theeconomy.

It’s unlikely to surprise anyone following politics to hear that positive ratings for Congress continue to hover in the single digits (7% to be precise, down slightly from 8% in October), while a strong majority of Americans (93%) give them negative marks. The only marginal gift under Congress’ collective tree this month is that their positive ratings are up a bit from December of last year, when only 5% gave them positivemarks.

  • No major surprises emerge when looking at approval ratings along political lines – majorities of Democrats give the president positive marks for his job performance both overall (62%) and in regards to the economy (61%), while majorities of both Republicans (94% both overall and economy) and Independents (69% overall, 67% economy) give him negative marks on both these measures.
  • Also unsurprising is the uniformity with which Americans rate Congress negatively (94% Republicans, 91% Democrats, 94% Independents).

Given all of these negative and pessimistic responses, it will likely surprise few to learn that seven in ten Americans (70%) believe things in the country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track, while three in ten (30%) think that things are going in the rightdirection.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll NewsRoom.

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TABLE 1
ELECTION OUTCOME
“Thinking about the recent Congressional elections, do you believe that the outcome is a good or bad thing for the United States?”

Base: Alladults

Dec. 2010

Dec. 2014

Political party

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Good thing

39

33

67

10

31

28

29

36

46

Bad thing

26

34

10

58

31

35

34

34

35

Not sure

34

33

23

32

38

37

37

30

19

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due torounding

TABLE 2a
DIVIDED GOVERNMENT
“Overall, do you think it is good or bad for the country to have a president and a majority in Congress belonging to different parties?”

Base: Alladults

Total

Political Party

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials
(18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby
Boomers
(50-68)

Matures
(69+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Good

33

46

25

34

34

31

33

39

Bad

31

23

43

27

33

30

31

29

Not sure

36

32

33

38

34

39

37

32

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due torounding

TABLE 2b
DIVIDED GOVERNMENT – TREND
“Overall, do you think it is good or bad for the country to have a president and a majority in Congress belonging to different parties?”

Base: Alladults

Oct.
2006

Dec.
2008

Nov.
2010

Dec.
2010

Dec.
2014

%

%

%

%

%

Good

43

43

43

39

33

Bad

24

21

21

23

31

Not sure

33

36

36

38

36

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due torounding

TABLE 3
OBAMA WORKING WITH REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS
“To what extent do you agree that President Obama will try to work with the Republicans in Congress?”

Base: Alladults

Dec.
2010

Dec.
2014

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

Agree (NET)

62

46

17

75

43

     Strongly agree

22

13

4

25

10

     Somewhat agree

40

32

13

49

34

Disagree (NET)

31

44

78

17

44

     Somewhat disagree

19

19

26

11

22

     Strongly disagree

13

26

53

6

22

Not at all sure

7

10

5

8

13

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due torounding

TABLE 4
REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS WORKING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA
“To what extent do you agree that the Republicans in Congress will try to work with President Obama?”

Base: Alladults

Dec.
2010

Dec.
2014

Political party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

Agree (NET)

37

31

52

18

28

     Strongly agree

5

6

11

3

5

     Somewhat agree

32

25

41

15

22

Disagree (NET)

53

58

41

75

58

     Somewhat disagree

27

26

28

26

27

     Strongly disagree

26

32

13

49

31

Not at all sure

10

11

7

7

14

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due torounding

TABLE 5
CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT
“Given the division between the power in the White House and the majority power in [2010: the House of Representatives / 2014: Congress], how confident are you that the government will do what needs to be done for the country?”

Base: Alladults

Dec. 2010

Dec. 2014

Political Party

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Confident (NET)

32

25

31

27

19

34

20

22

21

     Very confident

4

5

5

5

5

9

3

3

1

     Somewhat confident

29

20

26

22

14

25

17

19

20

Not confident (NET)

61

67

65

67

72

59

66

72

76

     Not very confident

39

39

42

37

44

38

33

42

45

     Not at all confident

22

28

23

30

28

21

33

30

31

Not at all sure

6

8

4

6

9

7

14

6

3

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due torounding

TABLE 6a
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND
“How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?”

Base: Alladults

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2014

December

33

67

November

35

65

October

34

66

September

30

70

August

32

68

July

34

66

June

38

62

May

38

62

April

33

67

March

35

65

February

35

65

January

32

68

2013

December

34

66

November

32

68

October

35

65

September

34

66

July

39

61

June

41

59

March

38

62

2012

December

45

55

September

41

59

April

41

59

March

40

60

January

36

64

2011

December

36

64

November

34

66

October

33

67

September

32

68

July

38

62

May

46

54

April

38

62

March

39

61

Feb.

42

58

Jan.

44

56

2010

Dec.

36

64

Nov.

38

62

Oct.

37

63

Sept.

38

62

Aug.

40

60

June

39

61

May

42

58

March

41

59

Jan.

40

60

2009

Dec.

41

59

Nov.

43

57

Oct.

45

55

Sept.

49

51

Aug.

51

49

June

54

46

May

59

41

April

58

42

March

55

45

*Positive = excellent or pretty good.  **Negative = only fair orpoor.

TABLE 6b
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – BY PARTY & IDEOLOGY
“How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?”

Base: Alladults

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

33

6

62

31

11

33

66

    Excellent

7

1

15

5

3

6

16

    Pretty good

26

5

47

26

8

27

50

NEGATIVE

67

94

38

69

89

67

34

    Only fair

29

21

29

32

18

36

27

    Poor

38

73

9

37

71

32

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
* indicates a response rate of <0.5%
— Indicates this response was not selected

TABLE 7a
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: Alladults

2009

2010

March

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Nov

Dec

Jan

Mar

Apr

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

32

32

29

27

31

30

      Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

5

6

5

5

5

5

      Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

27

26

24

22

26

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

68

68

71

73

69

70

      Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

32

29

31

33

30

34

      Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

37

39

40

39

39

36

2011

2012

2013

Jan

Feb*

Mar

May

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Feb

Mar

Apr

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

33

33

33

32

27

26

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

36

33

39

35

33

29

30

30

29

  Excellent

7

9

5

7

5

3

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

4

6

6

5

5

4

5

6

4

  Pretty good

26

24

28

26

22

23

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

32

27

32

31

28

28

25

24

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

67

62

67

68

73

74

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

64

67

61

65

67

71

70

70

71

   Only fair

30

22

29

28

30

33

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

26

26

26

29

29

31

28

29

30

   Poor

37

39

38

40

43

41

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

38

41

35

36

38

40

42

41

41

2014

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

28

31

31

32

35

32

30

30

29

33

35

34

      Excellent

5

4

5

5

5

7

7

6

6

5

8

9

      Pretty good

23

27

26

27

29

25

23

25

24

27

26

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

72

69

69

68

65

68

70

70

71

67

65

66

      Only fair

30

29

27

29

26

28

27

31

31

29

29

30

      Poor

42

40

42

39

39

40

43

39

40

38

36

36

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; *In February 2012 “Not at all sure” was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in thatway.

TABLE 7b
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – By Political Party and Generation
“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: Alladults

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

34

6

61

33

9

35

67

    Excellent

9

1

19

6

2

8

22

    Pretty good

25

5

42

27

8

27

45

NEGATIVE

66

94

39

67

91

65

33

    Only fair

30

26

30

33

22

37

24

    Poor

36

67

9

34

68

28

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due torounding

TABLE 8a
CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING
“How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?”

Base: Alladults

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

7

6

9

6

6

7

9

12

7

4

2

    Excellent

1

2

2

1

2

*

3

3

2

1

*

    Pretty good

6

4

7

5

4

7

6

9

6

4

2

NEGATIVE

93

94

91

94

94

93

91

88

93

96

98

    Only fair

38

44

35

36

42

39

31

43

42

34

29

    Poor

55

50

55

58

52

54

61

46

51

62

69

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
* indicates a response rate of <0.5%
— Indicates this response was not selected

TABLE 8b
CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – Trend
“How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?”

Base: Alladults

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2014

December

7

93

October

8

92

September

7

93

August

8

92

July

9

91

June

10

90

May

7

93

April

7

93

March

8

92

February

8

92

January

6

94

2013

December

5

95

November

7

93

October

4

96

September

7

93

July

9

91

June

9

91

March

6

94

2012

December

8

92

April

11

89

March

9

91

January

6

94

2011

December

5

95

July

8

92

May

13

87

January

16

84

2010

December

11

89

June

14

86

March

10

90

Jan.

16

84

2009

Dec.

17

83

Oct.

16

84

June

25

75

March

29

71

2008

October

10

86

August

18

77

June

13

83

February

20

76

2007

December

17

79

October

20

77

April

27

69

February

33

62

2006

September

24

73

May

18

80

February

25

71

January

25

72

*Positive = excellent or pretty good.  **Negative = only fair orpoor.

TABLE 9a
RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – TREND
“Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?”

Base: Alladults

TREND

Right Direction

Wrong Track

%

%

2014

December

30

70

November

34

66

October

34

66

September

29

71

August

32

68

July

31

69

June

33

67

May

35

65

April

34

66

March

34

66

February

34

66

January

31

69

2013

December

33

67

November

30

70

October

20

80

September

29

71

July

34

66

May

39

61

2012

March

34

66

January

27

73

2011

August

16

84

May

39

61

2010

December

29

71

April

39

61

2009

August

46

54

January

19

72

2008

October

11

83

February

23

69

2007

December

18

74

February

29

62

2006

May

24

69

February

32

59

2005

November

27

68

January

46

48

2004

September

38

57

June

35

59

2003

December

35

57

June

44

51

2002

December

36

57

June

46

48

2001

December

65

32

June

43

52

2000

October

50

41

June

40

51

1999

June

37

55

March

47

45

1998

December

43

51

June

48

44

1997

December

39

56

April

36

55

1996

December

38

50

June

29

64

1995

December

26

62

June

24

65

1994

December

29

63

June

28

65

1993

June

21

70

March

39

50

1992

June

12

81

January

20

75

1991

December

17

75

January

58

32

TABLE 9b
RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – By Political Party and Generation
“Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?”

Base: Alladults

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Right direction

30

15

48

28

14

32

49

Wrong track

70

85

52

72

86

68

51

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due torounding

Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between December 10 and 15, 2014 among 2,255 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to thisideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can becalculated.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.
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