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. Fair is Fair

    Absolutely correct. In my eyes, you're simply on probation.

    November 15, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. kmp

    I could have told you that but I can guarentee the GOP will not listen. They think this was a political rebuke of Obama but I think people are frustrated and felt that things didn't get better under the the Dems watch so lets try this for a spin. I think we are going to continue to see this continued back and forth for quite a while.

    November 15, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. jules sand-perkins

    Whatever CNN's poll numbers say, nobody can claim that the Nov. 2 election was a mandate for Obama.

    November 15, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. CNN: a bastion of useable information - NOT!!!

    Didn't need a poll to tell you that considering most people with even half a brain could see that just standing up and shouting no is not considered a good format for governing. They just made it a heck of a lot harder for themselves. The GOP may actually have to propose ideas and attempt to govern. But I suspect we will see lots of the same crap that they tried in 1994 – investigations of the president's (a democrat) administration. Lot's of grandstanding – some of it hypocritical. I'm sure that will do wonders for this country's economic situation...

    November 15, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. NC

    In 2012 the Republicans will be thrown out of office.

    November 15, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. TomInRochNY

    Every election the party in power thinks they have a mandate, until the next election. Why do you think this country is so screwed up and world looks at us and shakes their heads?

    November 15, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. John

    This is a second chance for the Republican, and they better not mess it up this time. because they won't be a next time.

    November 15, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Dale

    I voted for Obama because I trust him not to start any stupid wars, and to get us out of the inherited Bush wars responsibly. So far, so good.

    November 15, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. john, PA

    In what nation did you take this poll ????
    8 out of 10 where I work don't agree with Obama, don’t trust Obama, won’t support Obama, sure, you keep asking the same question to the same people.

    This election is mandate to stop Obama and the Democrats in charge.

    Obama better learn to agree on a lot more of what the American people want:
    Cut taxes!
    Repeal Obama care!
    End ear marks!
    Close the border!

    Senate Democrats, when the vote to override Obama’s veto come up,
    or we will vote you and Obama out in 2012!

    November 15, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    BUT, BUT he gives a good speech! And he went to Harvard and has vast experience as a community organizer! And he promises us not only CHANGE but HOPE!! Yes, we will be saved!!

    Two years later, we're $5 TRILLION deeper in the debt hole, with record unemployment that isn't going down, government controlled banks, car companies and a multi-TRILLION dollar new healthcare entitlement that everybody will pay for with higher premiums and taxes. Welcome to your new world or CHANGE and HOPE!

    Learned your lesson yet America? Don't vote for DONKEYS!!

    November 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Oregon Calling

    I wonder if this means that they are willing to TRY to do more than say NO.

    Peace 🙂

    November 15, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. effelbee

    The November 2 election was a simple one, and the poll results show only one thing: the voters want Congress to get things done about employment, and infrastructure...

    November 15, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Liberal4Obama

    The GOP was elected to help make the economy better, thats it, if they try all this other repeal stuff they are just making it harder on themselves.

    November 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. NoCountryLeftForKids

    When the Dems won in 2008, Obama and his minions drunk with power said to the GOP "election has consequences, we won so go away we don't need u!" GOP were not allowed to offer suggestions etc. Dems said we don't need u GOPers we have a super majority & the WH. Then the legislation they passed failed & made the country worse! Despite the GOP warning them of the dire consequences like the Healthcare law raising premiums, (& they did!!!), Dens gave the proverbial middle finger! So as a result of their failures, GOP became the party of NO and Dems blamed everyone but themselves.
    Election has consequences!!! Right? So I say to the GOPers, reverse it all, kick clueless, lying Obama out and start over!!

    November 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Geoffrey Sperl

    Wow, Betty. I think you've played your hand and proven no one with half a mind should listen to you.

    My taxes are down since Obama took office, and I know my son's healthcare is covered if something happens that my wife and I lose our jobs.

    Obama also never said anyone should ride in the back of the bus, so you might want to doublecheck your sources, screw your head on straight, and pull on your big girl panties if you're going to try to talk with the adults.

    November 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. njfinest2009

    well my insurance premium has not gone up. I think that many people have not given the president enough time to do everything that needs to be done. My questions to the republicans is this how are they going to create jobs?

    November 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Mike in Texas

    The Republicans are on a short leash. If they go the route of subpoenas, hearings, investigations and repeated repeal votes, they will be out next election.

    It is all about the economy.

    They are so obsessed with Obama. It is like the moth attracted to the bug zapper. You know it will kill you, but you still do it.

    November 15, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. 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

    November 15, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Bob in PA

    A rejection of polices is a mandate to get rid of them. Pool some people that understand the definition of "mandate".

    November 15, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Jean-Texas

    Wow! Ms Phillips above has a real problem and it showed in her final statment. She is obviously a screaming lunatic. Not one single fact did she offer. Not proof of the "ruinous" road President Obama has allegedly taken. It appears that many people were asleep during the previous administrations reign. Many people believe that President Obama initiated TARP. He did not. It was President Bush. The road that led us to the brink of another great depression did not happen under President Obamas watch. It was under the previous administration. It is true that many of the policies and legislation that allowed the near destruction occured prior to Bushs' presidency. Most of the ruinious legislation occured during Republican controlled congresses. The Republicans are misreading the tea leaves if they believe they have a mandate. It is largly due to people like the previous writer who winds up showing HER true colors.

    November 15, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Mike in Texas

    Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    What banks do the government run? Boehner and Palin supported the bail out.

    GM is paying back more money and with interest.

    Unemployment would be high with McCain in power too.

    The job growth of the last decade was due to the housing and credit markets. Those jobs aren't coming back anytime soon.

    Neither party has shown how they will pay down debt.

    Open your eyes and take the blinders off. You act as if this is all the undoing of the Democrats. Both parties are to blame.

    November 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. tony

    I'm still waiting to see see if the Tea Party will take the Alaska election through the courts to try and overturn the obvious"intent" of the people they so loudly claim to represent.

    November 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Mike in Texas

    Two words Republicans: Jobs and economy. Anything else and you will be one and done.

    November 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. Pierre

    As the French say when not cooking Freedom Fries, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

    November 15, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. WhoRulesYou

    the only poll that matters was held on Nov 2, 2010. what were the results? Pay attention because there's another one coming in 2012. the American People have spoken and want the size and cost of government reduced - NOW!

    November 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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