November 15th, 2010
12:14 PM ET
12 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. Aaron

    Larry Sabato from UVA's Center for Politics said it best election night. 75% of what happened was because of the economy.

    The Democrats took office and attempted broad strokes to fix the economy as well as accomplish policies that they said they would. It's just the economy isn't healing as fast as they had hoped.

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