November 15th, 2010
12:14 PM ET
3 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. New Age Independant

    CNN has an amazing spin on the election here. Why do a poll when the election itself is the only thing that matters. Democrats lost badly due to massive failed policies which Democrats shoved down the throats of the people. The people responded; handing the Democrats a historical election failure. And yet this is not a mandate? ROFL, CNN, nice try.

    November 15, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. Jeff

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

    Hmm... so only 9% of the population has a clue about what's going on then? Hmmm...

    November 15, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Brian

    Voter induced term limits

    November 15, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. DAVE

    nothing is going to change not even a little bit. republicans think the answer to our problems is to balance the budget and i fail to understand how that will creat 1 job. republicans are always saying that the goverment should be run like an american housrhold were they have to balance their budget! really that must mean that all republicans pay cash for their house and pay cash for their cars and never use credit cards. thats what your saying when you want the goverment to run a balanced budget. no carry over of last years spending into a new year. what republicans dream they want is not something they are willing to do in their own households!

    November 15, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. CaliforniaBC

    The Republicans will spend the whole time trying to repeal everything this Congress has done, one of the MOST productive Congresses in years, I might add. In the process of trying to repeal all the legislation, wasting tax payer money in the process and investigating the Obama admininstration looking for ANYTHING they can find to get him impeached, they will do NOTHING for the economy. And guess what...? After all that the economy will be improving because of the Democrats' policies still in place and come 2012 the GOP will have nothing whatsoever to brag about doing for the average American.

    Say good bye to the GOP after that.....

    November 15, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Mo

    Give them about two weeks, maybe until the Lame Duck session is over or until after the holidays and when Repubicans do nothing and sit and will say NO to everything the polls will get much much much worse for these idiot Republicans. Actually during this Lame Duck Session people will start to learn that they won't do anything. So actually before the sessions end for holidays the Party of NO will start. The Republicans have allready said they don't plan on having much of anything done during this session!!! These are the part of NO, NO TO EVERYTHING people voted in. It wont take long at all when these idiot Republicans polls go from BAD to VERY VERY BAD!!!!

    November 15, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. Living in America

    The Republicans has been in officr for two weeks and haven't done anything yet. Just like the clock was ticking for quick results form day 1 when President Obama took office the same thing goes for them. GET TO WORK!!!!! The GOP refused to work with the President. They had wheelchair Joe and other people screaming about the pitfalls of Obamacare instead of working with him behind closed doors. So that is yall fault. The way he cursed you guys out on national television about that at your own meeting was priceless. So yall know he ain't afraid to go toe to to with ya.

    November 15, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. WALKER

    The election was a mandate on this economic illiterate community organizing Marxist failure. No thanks to Cap-and-Trade, Barry. 80% of Americans didn't want your terrible health care bill. Can't wait to vote him out in 2012.

    November 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Me

    If banks were lending
    If we had more jobs in America
    If the economy was good
    THE REPUBLICANS WOULD NOT HAVE ANY GAINS IN THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE

    November 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Big_D

    Just wait until the Tom DeLay trial gets going. The GOP has a lot on their plate.

    November 15, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    The Republicans have already started showing this is not the kind of Washington political machine you have seen in the last 2 years. This congress will work for the people and the country, not the political party and their special interests. In other words, unions and banks have had their run on Washington. Find another source of funding.

    November 15, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. lefty avenger

    A bad day for republicans is a real good day for us liberals.

    November 15, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Matt

    CNN,
    Thanks for telling us what the top Republicans said on election night. If you go back and watch any of the Republican victory speeches, just about all of them say that this is not a time to celebrate...that this is not a vote for the current Repubican way of doing things. Maybe you should change you name to Behind the Times! Get with it CNN!

    November 15, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. usualone

    Has anyone seen numbers of what percent of eligible voters actually voted. That is a way of letting the GOP know they did not get a mandate - as if they won't still run with that mantra!

    November 15, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. lisl craft

    Well things started to come apart in the clinton administration. So hurray for some more republican faces in the house. We need a change.

    November 15, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. John Tighe

    Win or Lose, the GOP will always think they're calling the shots, and sadly, they're right.

    November 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. DAVE

    republicans think because they were told that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid was the problem with this country. well here is the differance between democratic leaders and republican leaders. John Boener plays to the camras when he thinks that saying things on the house floor like "hell no we won't" is the right kind of words to be spoken on the house floor. Mitch Mcconnell is the biggest waste of time tax, payer money and a senate seat. 2 years ago he said "his number one goal was to make the president fail and he already on november 3rd refirmed that goal. we have a republican leader with the same goal as the people we are right now hunting for in afganistan. nothing is going to change because after 2 years of mitch mcconnell's leadership we democrats have learned that 41 no votes can stop a bill from even going to the senate floor for debate. what goes around comes around!

    November 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Jon

    Meh. Who cares about a mandate? We all know the GOP is going to run with whatever they want. You asked for it, America. You got it.

    November 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Daniel in Phoenix

    So when the Republicans simply reiterate their policy of No on everything, and continue to offer no new ideas themselves, then their political power will get Obama reelected. Especially when Rush Limbaugh (the real conservative voice for the American right) continues to advocate that conservatives are not far enough to the right. We will end up with Obama versus Palin in 2012, which is a landslide for the left. Do not DOUBT ME! I am living rent free in your heads.

    November 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Rober Cloosdoosch.

    Betty-. Who do you think is paying for people without insurance now,? When an insured person goes to the emergency room for a cough, we all pay for it in higher costs. It is much more cost effective pay for an office visit, than a emergency room viist. As far as what Obama has done for us...well, your insurance company cannot drop you because you got sick, they cannot refuse to cover you be cause of a preexisting condition. 99% of us got a tax cut last year, I think that your "back of the bus "comments gets to the root of your problem. Perhaps you should take advantage of that evil Obama Care to up the dosage on your meds?

    November 15, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. PALIN/BACHMANN 2012

    Mandate? Mandate? I don't need to show you no stinkin' mandate.

    November 15, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Gary M

    Look at those three droopy goons..

    November 15, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Mike in Texas

    Wow Betty. Your true colors show. You offered no facts, just another rant and rave. Your last sentence, calling him a mulatto shows your true colors. One, who cares if he is off mixed races? Two, mulatto was a term used during slave times.

    So, do you have a problem with his ethnicity?

    Do you say that radical whitey when talking about Pelosi.

    Actually, we already pay for our insurance and those who don't have it. The mandate would make those who don't buy it.

    My premiums went up $5 a pay check; my wife's stayed the same.

    The only part of the Health care bill I don't care for is having to have a doctor's prescription to use my FSA account to buy over the counter meds.

    Take a look in the mirror before you start judging others.

    November 15, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. Todd A

    Every now and then you have to elect a republican..............just to remind you of why you should have voted for a democrat in the first place.

    I hope that this finally gets through to people. When they see the damage that republicans do to this country, I hope we never have to endure another republican again. Think I'm crazy? Wait and see. If things get better, it's only because they have already started to. The republicans will take credit, but let history show that the rebound had already begun.

    November 15, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Mo

    I agree in 2012 Republicans will be thrown out of office. Give them about two weeks, maybe until the Lame Duck session is over or until after the holidays and when Repubicans do nothing and sit and will say NO to everything the polls will get much much much worse for these idiot Republicans. Actually during this Lame Duck Session people will start to learn that they won't do anything. So actually before the sessions end for holidays the Party of NO will start. The Republicans have allready said they don't plan on having much of anything done during this session!!! These are the part of NO, NO TO EVERYTHING people voted in. It wont take long at all when these idiot Republicans polls go from BAD to VERY VERY BAD!!!!

    November 15, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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