November 15th, 2010
12:14 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Election not a mandate for GOP

Washington (CNN) - Americans approve of the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the midterms, but only one in six say the election results were a mandate for the GOP, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates that President Barack Obama's approval rating has rebounded from an all time low in September, but is still below 50 percent.

Full Results after the jump:

Full results (pdf)

Fifty-two percent of people questioned in the poll say that Republican control of the House will be good for the country, with 39 percent saying it will be bad for the country. The GOP won a net gain of at least 60 seats in the House (with six contests still unresolved) to win back the chamber after four years of control by the Democrats.

But only one in three thinks the Republicans will do a better job than the Democrats in running the House, with just over one in five saying the GOP will do a worse job, and 44 percent saying there won't be much difference.

Only 32 percent say the new Congress will get more done that the current one, with just over one in four saying it will accomplish less, and 41 percent saying it won't make a difference.

Only 17 percent say the election results were a mandate for the GOP, with seven in ten saying that the midterms were more a rejection of the Democrats' policies.

"That's the classic pattern in elections like these," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 1994, the last time the Republicans bumped the Democrats from power on Capitol Hill, only 18 percent thought that those midterms elections were a mandate for the GOP. In 2006, when the Democrats took control, only 27 percent thought that was a mandate for the Dems. Most Americans seem to believe that these elections were 'throw-the-bums-out' events."

According to the survey, 43 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of the Republican party, with 48 percent saying they see the GOP in an unfavorable way. Forty-six percent say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic party, with 48 percent saying they see the Democrats in a unfavorable light.

"Unlike 1994, the last time the Republicans bumped the Democrats from power on Capitol Hill, the GOP takes over without the American public solidly behind it. The Republican party's 43 percent favorable rating is the lowest that number has been since the fall of 2009," adds Holland.

If Americans dislike both parties so much, is there room for a third party?

"Americans are split over whether they would like to see the Tea Party movement become a third political party that would run candidates against the Democrats and Republicans - 48 percent would like to see that, 48 percent would not," says Holland.

But despite the success of many Tea Party backed candidates in the midterm elections, the poll indicates unfavorable views of the movement increased by five points, to 42 percent, since late October, while there was little change in the favorable rating, currently at 38 percent.

According to the survey, 48 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing as president, with 50 percent saying they disapprove. The 48 percent approval rating is up six points from September, when Obama was at an all time low of 42 percent in CNN polling.

Thirty-eight say they disapprove of Obama because he's too liberal, with nine percent saying they disapprove because he's not liberal enough.

"Obama's marks on domestic policy are still low, particularly on the federal deficit and the economy. But he continues to get his best marks on foreign affairs and terrorism, and his overseas trip immediately after the midterm elections - whether by chance or design - sent images back to the U.S. of Obama looking presidential in a foreign setting that may have helped his standing with the public," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 11-14, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Check out CNN's new Polling Center, which provides the most comprehensive polling data of any news organization in the political landscape.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: 2010 • CNN Polls • Congress • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. johnnyD

    this is obvious. No one is happy with the democrats, but no one is happy with the party of no either. Trying to subvert the government for the sake of your own power does not sit well with the american people, and most US citizens are smart enough to know that is what the GOP is doing. We need to get rid of the party system.

    November 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. conoclast

    The election has been aptly described as a voter temper-tantrum and those who would try to read more into it do so at their peril. The American government itself is on trial; if congress continues its dysfunctional bickering voters will begin looking for alternatives. Endless campaigning and electioneering/posturing doth not a "deliberative body" make!

    November 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. bill486

    Conservatives nazis don't care.....give them a little power & they think their God, they'll do whatever they want. Everything they say a lie that THEY don't even believe–they just want YOU to believe it. They've been trying to kill off the middle & working class since 1980 when "Adolph Reagan" was elected.

    If REPUBLICANS had their way: Welcome to the Slave States of America!

    November 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. SAY WHAT!!!

    @ john, PA – your comment is so funny. Any politician that tries to repeal Health Care will pay dearly in 2012. Health Care is here to stay and that is a good thing. I agree that earmarks should be eliminated. And one thing for the Republicans – you guys just have control of the House. Why do you guys act like you can pass or repeal anything? If you guys don't come to the table with solutions and aren't willing to find a common ground than you will be toast.

    November 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. mcoville

    @jules sand-perkins
    "Whatever CNN's poll numbers say, nobody can claim that the Nov. 2 election was a mandate for Obama." Get you head out of the sand, that is exactly what the failure of the Dems on Nov 2nd was about. Obama went too far left and the American people sent him a message to get back to the center or face a pink slip in 2012.

    @Oregon Calling
    "I wonder if this means that they are willing to TRY to do more than say NO." The Republicans have had ideas, it has been the Dems that have said "NO" to everything the majority of Americans have wanted.

    @king
    "bush claim his tarp bailout was a success. how can you bail out all these corporations and leave the customers without money where the hell these corporations going to get demand. they got all this mon" Ask Tim Geithner where our money went? Oh wait, Ron Paul will.

    November 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. NoCountryLeftForKids

    Obama is a national embarrassment. We see that clearly on this Asian trip where other countries do not respect him and basically told him where to go! This is ridiculous! Obama is clueless!!! He get's his clock clean in an election, he is complete uncaring of the fact that his policies is killing this country and his caucus members were obliterated b/c of it. Then he goes on this Asian tour and get his clock clean again, with communists & socialist countries lecturing him about his policies and the destruction of the dollar.
    Yet idiots here continue to support this fool. This past election was a repudiation & referendum on Obama.This trip was a slap in his face!! The curtain is falling & truth is starting to be revealed! Obama is a sham and con!

    November 15, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Cut taxes!"

    Cut taxes? They were cut...by the GOP...TWICE in the early 2000's. And you know what? Those tax cuts are the single largest contributing factor to the national deficit. Furthermore, as a result of those tax cuts, Bush borrowed obscene amounts of money from China in order to fund two wars, massively inflating the national debt. Not a single economist with a brain in his freekin head has argued for more tax cuts. Some have suggested temporarliy continuing them...some have said all of them, some have said some of them...until the recession plays out, but they almost universally

    "Repeal Obama care!"

    Not even an issue. It has a 0% chance of happening, so cry it out and get over it. If the GOP and Teatards wastes everyones' time and money trying to push through a repeal or people like McConnell follow through on promises to bring it up for votes repeatedly and often over the next 2 years, then it will backfire on them. Guaranteed.

    "End ear marks!"

    The GOP has already explcitly refused to do this. McConnell in particular, but also imbeciles like Inhofe, who decided he'd also claim on Faux Noise during a discussion about earmarks that Obama doesn't know where Oklahoma is.

    "Close the border!"

    Physically and fiscally impossible. We will not be building a berlin wall nor hiring thousands of police and creating a police state to sniff out all illegals and then deport them. Both have 0% chance of happening. That is REALITY. Once you get that through your mis-shapen skull and process it with your oh-so-smooth brain, maybe you'll start to accept that both physical reality and those budget concerns of which you claim to be so acutely aware prevent us from taking such drastic draconian actions and leave us with no pragmatic choice other than finding solutions that would actually be effective. We know you'd like us to spare no expense to get rid of as many brown people as possible...while at the same time you'd like us not to spend even one red cent taking care of our fellow citizens who need healthcare...but really, it's time for the adults to have these conversations. Run along and play now.

    November 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Justin in Maine

    D's and R's – two sides of the same bad penny. When are we collectively going to realize that? Want real change, stop voting for either!

    November 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Rob Johnson

    I think a lot of people don't really understand how close the economy was to collapsing completely when Obama took office.

    In fairness to those people, part of the reason they don't realize how close we came to going off the cliff was because the media and others didn't want people to panic and didn't really come clean with them about how bad it was.

    I also don't think most people realize that the car companies and banks have paid back most of the bailout money, and in the long run it has turned out to be a good investment. A risky one, sure, but one that has basically worked out the way Obama said would.

    I can't blame anyone for being frustrated with where the economy is now, but at least we still HAVE an economy. Future generations will look at Obama as somebody who inherited the biggest mess any President has ever had to face, and even if he hasn't been perfect, he's pulled us away from the abyss.

    November 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    >njfinest2009
    >well my insurance premium has not gone up.

    I guess you must be getting it free then. Mine went up 11% from 2010 to 2011. Did you honestly think forcing all those requirments on insurance companies wasn't going to result in higher premiums for everybody? If so then you don't understand simple finance.

    >I think that many people have not given the president enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

    Enough time for WHAT??!! In two years he's done more damage than anybody thought possible. Of course he had help with his leftist friends Reid and Pelosi but if they would have had more time, this country would be TOAST!

    >My questions to the republicans is this how are they going to create jobs?

    Well it sure won't be by hiring hundreds of thousands of overpaid government union people! The private sector MUST create the jobs, not goverment! That will only be done when the government stops attacking every business in sight and regulating them to death while over taxing them. Obozo has created a hostile business enviroment and he is now reaping the consequences.

    November 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The midterms clearly pointed out, that the people aren't happy with any political party, and that all parties will have to earn the support of the people, from this point forward.

    November 15, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    edit:

    "Cut taxes!"

    Cut taxes? They were cut...by the GOP...TWICE in the early 2000's. And you know what? Those tax cuts are the single largest contributing factor to the national deficit. Furthermore, as a result of those tax cuts, Bush borrowed obscene amounts of money from China in order to fund two wars, massively inflating the national debt. Not a single economist with a brain in his freekin head has argued for more tax cuts. Some have suggested temporarliy continuing them...some have said all of them, some have said some of them...until the recession plays out, but they almost universally recognize that the Bush tax cuts need to expire in the next few years if we're going to be able to fix the debt and deficit...EVEN IF WE ALSO ENACT MASSIVE BUDGET CUTS.

    "Repeal Obama care!"

    Not even an issue. It has a 0% chance of happening, so cry it out and get over it. If the GOP and Teatards waste everyones' time and money trying to push through a repeal or people like McConnell follow through on promises to bring it up for votes repeatedly and often over the next 2 years, then it will backfire on them. Guaranteed.

    "End ear marks!"

    The GOP has already explicitly refused to do this. McConnell in particular said so, but also imbeciles like Inhofe, who decided he'd also claim on Faux Noise during a discussion about earmarks that Obama doesn't know where Oklahoma is.

    "Close the border!"

    Physically and fiscally impossible. We will not be building a berlin wall nor hiring thousands of police and creating a police state to sniff out all illegals and then deport them. Both have 0% chance of happening. That is REALITY. Once you get that through your mis-shapen skull and process it with your oh-so-smooth brain, maybe you'll start to accept that both physical reality and those budget concerns of which you claim to be so acutely aware prevent us from taking such drastic draconian actions and leave us with no pragmatic choice other than finding solutions that would actually be effective. We know you'd like us to spare no expense to get rid of as many brown people as possible...while at the same time you'd like us not to spend even one red cent taking care of our fellow citizens who need healthcare...but really, it's time for the adults to have these conversations. Run along and play now.

    November 15, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. NoCountryLeftForKids

    Mike in Texas, "GM is paying back more money and with interest. Unemployment would be high with McCain in power too."

    can I borrow your crystal ball? GM's does not have to pay a dime in corporate taxes, fees or anything because Fed. Govt wave it! If they paid like other publicly traded corporations GM would be in the red!! That is a fact. The govt waived their taxes to give the illusions that they r profitable & paying off the load. So idiots like you that can be easily fooled would fall for it! Do the math, they not only owe the load they owe the taxes, but we will never see the taxes. Take fr one hand to pay the other. Typical Govt math!!!

    Unemployment would be lower b/c McCain would give corporate tax breaks to keep jobs and incentivise small businesses to hire/keep their employees! But lets continue "to eat the rich". Enjoy welfare checks!

    November 15, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Erik S.

    The election said that the democrats have been a joke for the last two years, that's what it says.

    November 15, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. NoCountryLeftForKids

    loan not load!! sorry typo!
    People, Don't fall for the "GM is paying back the loan". GM pays no taxes inorder to pay the loan. Obama can now go out there and lie to u that GM is paying off the loan.
    Businesses would not need loans if they did have to pay such high taxes. There goes your job!!

    November 15, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. johnrj08

    Look at these jowly old white men acting like the cat who just ate the canary. These three men disgust me.

    November 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Joe

    The lack of a mandate has never bothered Republicans. I expect them to put forward the same old tired solutions to problems they created and then blame the Democrats for their failures. Will someone please form a common sense party of the center to get something done?

    November 15, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Doug

    Dear CNN:

    Where is the news here? Republicans have already acknowledged time and again that they will be watched closely to see if they keep their promises.

    November 15, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. NoCountryLeftForKids

    Geoffrey Sperl Obama DID say get in the back of the Bus TO REPUBLICANS! REsearch it!! I saw the speech!!! Stop lying!
    Your family don't have healthcare now & NOT til 2014 when the 30million freeloaders get it for free! So pray nothing happens till then. Your taxes may have gone down(another lie), but mine went up!!! My insurance premiums went up b/c I have to provide healthcare for you!! It is not my responsiblity to pay for u or your family!! That is your job loser!

    November 15, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. once upon a horse

    this just shows to me what a serious disconnecct we have in America when it comes to reasoning. Yes the economy is not good but it is not as bad as it was in 2008 or before...yet it is moving TOO slow to get better so what do we do? We go put right back into office the same ones that got us into the mess in the first place just because we are "angry". But then again we only trust the GOP a fraction more than we trust the Dems. Give me a break. Blame the lazy left for not getting out to vote and the sllick right for filling folks heads with fear and misinformation.. The Republicans won with NO platform to run on and the Democrats lost because they had no spine to come out and actually say what the president has done since taking office.

    November 15, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. GonzoinHouston

    If there is any mandate for the GOP, it is to keep fanning the fires of anger, keep broadcasting outright lies, and keep the none-too-bright stirred up. Don't look for any serious compromises or common sense. Instead, you will get multiple investigations eventually leading up to impeachment hearings on some ludicrous charge.

    November 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. kyle from ohio

    What one plus one do not equal Two any more; Of course this was not a mandate if so the house would have been more like 100 to 120 seats and the senate would have been more like 20-25 seats; People actual taxes when down last yr ; The economy was in the tank; our debt already in the trillions due to unpaid policies; where is the math; just simple math please.

    November 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. NoCountryLeftForKids

    I love how Jean in Texas talks about us being asleep when the previous Bush Admin spend like drunken sailors. Hey morons, do u realize that is why they lost in 2006 & 2008 b/c of it!! If Bush Admin drove the economy in the ditch, then the Obama Admin pulled it out and continue to drive it off the cliff!!!! We are worse off now!!

    November 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The GOBP need to focus on the economy and jobs. They complained and did nothing baout it for 2 years. If the unemployment rate isn't below 8% by June, then they have failed! I mean seriously. I don't like to think in hypotheticals, but if the stimulus wasn't passed, what will unemployment be at? So if the republicans can;t produce quickly, they're butts will be gone in 2012.

    November 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. Lisa

    Betty ... I already pay for insurance; over $6000 per year through my employer. That does not include deductibles and such. So yes, I think that any program that makes sure that I get healthcare that I already paid for, with fear of it going away when I need it most or fear of moving to a different job because of a pre-existing condition ... well, then I'm getting what I'm already paying for.

    November 15, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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