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. Drew Williams

    If people were told that electing flaming, bleeding-heart liberals would get them employed, they'd do it tomorrow. People are by and large pragmatic, far more pragmatic than the hardcore politics-as-spectator-sport crowd. Once the economy is righted, as it will be eventually I assume, then we can get back to our ideological debates. Until then, it's probably economy above all.

    November 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Whatever

    GOOD LUCK BOEHNER!!! Be careful of what you ask for... the first order of business is JOBS – – LOTS AND LOTS OF JOBS!!!!! You said you could do it so JUST DO IT!!!! NO fighting over the HEALTHCARE bill again!!! That dead horse is dead. The second order is voting on the debt ceiling – GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE!!!! If you raise the debt ceiling you are giving the okay for more spending!!! WE ARE WATCHING!!!!!!!!!

    Republicians have a large majority in the House and will not need Democratic votes to get anything through the House – – They WILL OWN EVERYTHING THAT IS LEGISLATED!!! Oh wait you have to first win over the tea party folks because there appears to be a difference in view points on how to run things. Now IF they jump on board with the establishment – – they will be voted out along with the rest of the Republicians because they will not be sticking to their principles or keeping their word!!! Time to end the wars boys and girls!!!! We would be back in the black if those wars were ended. It is NOT about winning or losing – – getting out is about our SURVIVAL!!!!!!!

    Oh where is the popcorn???? Watching Washington the next two years will be better than any movie!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. CTYank

    Let's be real here. If anything, we've seen the possible impact of a 24-hr polit-PR machine (Fox "news") on the gullible and impressionable, in addition to massive anonymous media attack. Besides astro-turf anger, fear and hate.
    We need to get past buying offices, to a place where truth and ideas matter.
    Can the repubs focus on governing and the needs of the people, and show us some transparency? No more platitudes.
    We're fortunate to have some adult supervision in the executive branch. No Dick, no Freddo, no Scooter, yada-yada.

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

    So Speaker Elect, Boehner, where will all these new jobs going to come from, and when will they start to get here? The clock's ticking.

    November 15, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. The other G. W.

    This is quite accurate – as a Dem I am actually hopeful that a more balanced legislative body
    will spur (read that as FORCE) Repubs to start doing something and Dems to start LISTENING
    to the needs of AMERICANS on both sides of the spectrum. If our governing bodies can not
    find a way to pull their own heads out of their behinds then we are ALL doomed. And if the Repubs
    fail to work collaboratively this brief moment will simply reveal our worst fears about them.

    Good luck to all! Get busy!

    November 15, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "the voters want Congress to get things done about employment, and infrastructure..."

    I'd say you're dead on with the former, but way off with the latter. GOPers/conservatives/Teatards want to stay as far away from construction job creation as possible. They view as a giveaway to unions, which historically donate to Dems, not GOPers. They'd rather the Golden Gate Bridge collapse on a bus full of infants and kittens than see unionized employment pick up. Just ask NJ's Governor Christie or the buffoons who blocked the project in SC to wide/deepen the shipping channel so larger cargo ships could enter the harbor. Besides, potholes and horrible roads encourage more people to buy larger, gas-guzzling cars and cause more wear and tear so you have to buy a new one more frequently, and that's just good Big Oil policy.

    November 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Mike S.

    That headline scared me. I thought it was bad news for Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

    November 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Steve (the real one)

    Hopefully the GOP will not make the mistake of believing 2 Nov was their mandate! It wasn't. It was a mandate for change against the change from 2008! `

    November 15, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. Ferret out the B.S.

    Looks like things are going to be vitriolic again for awhile. You know people when you vote for change you gotta give it time to work, it's not like turning on and off a light switch. Where are all the Democrats and independents that voted for change then got cold feet?

    November 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We are pretty dam sick of Obama and his radical issues, we no longer have any trust in this radical mullato. Betty
    Betty: You're a perfect example of ALL the children that Bush left behind. If you're going to criticize, learn to spell first.
    What does the President's color have to do with his policies?
    How old are you anyway 60-65? I haven't heard the word 'mullato' since they used to hang them from trees.

    November 15, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    Mike in Texas said: GM is paying back more money and with interest.

    Really Mike?? We were told GM finisihed paying off the loan 6 months ago. The CEO even appeared in a commercial touting the pay back! Wait a minute!! Are we being lied to AGAIN?

    November 15, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. NoCountryLeftForKids

    Hey Republicans!! "Sit in the back" or "Back of the Bus!" (no really some say there is a difference)
    I think 90% of us non-bong smokers got the reference to Rosa Parks! It was despicable!!

    November 15, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Nick

    American electorate got tired of the Democratic policies and elected the other side with a wishful thinking things will get better. But, I don't think either party will learn. They will get their message from Fox News or some political group. They simply don't realize or in denial that they will be on probation from now until next election.

    November 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. Keith

    Splitting the Republican vote between the radical right Tea Partiers and the more moderate right establishment Republicans might be good for America. The Republicans might shed themselves of the radicals and actually wander back to the center where 85% of America would prefer them to be. The Democrats have been trying to move to the center, but the need to counter-balance the Republican right-wing radicalism has been a hinderance. When you've got an elephant sitting on the extreme right side of the scales, it's not practical to expect the donkey to move to the center of the scales and expect the scales to remain in balance.

    BTW Tea Partiers, according to FauxNews' own ratings reports, 99.4% of Americans do NOT watch FauxNews. Perhaps you-all would like to put on your thinking caps for a while and join the rest of the country?

    November 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. chutchin

    To Betty:

    YOU are the definition of what is wrong and why our country is so polarized. Why don't you stop repeating and blathering Faux News talking points and get some original thoughts about things in your own mind? Get a clue, Betty and find an actual source with a correct quotation because yours concerning "the back of the bus" is completely is usually the case when someone just parrots a Faux News snippet. No curiosity about what's really going on, Betty? President Obama, not the "mulatto" , Betty, our current President did not create TARP, nor bank bailouts, nor wall street bailouts-that was your hero, President Bush. And see, Betty? Unlike your unpatriotic blather, even though I did not vote for Bush nor supported any of his big corporate policies, nor appreciated the fact that he started two wars that are still killing our citizens, I can still call him by a respectful title. Unlike you, Betty, unlike you. What a pathetic excuse for an American citizen. I wonder how you would feel, if you didn't HAVE the freedom to be sodamn disrespectul?

    November 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Search for Sanity

    Neither paty has been great, but the Republicans have been in charge most of the time. Including half of the Clinton adm., so when you ill-informed people who even want to go back to the last Dem. was in office (which everyone was living at a higher standard) than a Repub ran country raised intrest rates caused a economic down turn, which latter lead to the problems we hace today. So those who beleive that Bush cuts for the rich and all that goes with that agenda is going to work should not vote, leave it to people that can look through the crap on each side not their team. This is not a game it is peoples lives!

    November 15, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Orlando Patriot

    Let me first say I am a STRONG conservative but I agree with this assessment and that it is not a "mandate" for GOP philosophy. The people understand that a successful government involves communication and compromise and are totally FURIOUS with the Obama administration for not even ALLOWING the Republicans to be involved in discussions and DISREGARDING what the american people wanted. This election was only a mandate to repeal health care, limit government expansion/spending, efficient spending of tax revenue and to STOP the arrogance of the Obama administration thinking they can do anything they want. The GOP needs to REPEAL HEALTH CARE and slow the growth of government. After that I agree this election is not a mandate and after repealing health care and controlling the growth of government all other items need compromise and full debate.

    November 15, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. U.S. Common Sense

    "Mandates" are overrated. Bush was wrong for claiming he had one, Obama was wrong for claiming he had one, and any other politician will forever be wrong in claiming that. Unless there is a 100% sweep, no "party" ever haves a mandate.

    November 15, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. denise

    "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."

    I wonder how many of the 48% YES answers are from people who want to simply reduce the Republican votes.

    November 15, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Washington politicians...listen ..

    neither side of the politicians get don't have power any more the people have spoken...not to enpower you but to listen what the majority of "WE THE PEOPLE" are do you get it............?????????????

    November 15, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. DB

    Have you noticed how the "New" Republican leaders are beginning to sound a lot like the Democrats sounded like after they got control of Congress in 2008? The only "mandate" you fools have is to try fix the mess you and your friends the Democrats have made of this country over the last 2 decades, which I doubt you will be able to do in 2 years just like the Democrats have discovered. Frankly, I have a lower opinion of both parties today than at any time since the 1960's.

    November 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Cynic

    I think it is amusing that Obama's opposition think he is radical: Bush makes wars that Obama is continuing. Bush pushes a prescription drug law for Seniors, and Obama pushes government-run health care. Bush keeps detainees in Gitmo and Obama continues this policy. Bush bails out the banks and Obama bails out Big Business. The truth of the matter is that NEITHER party has the interests of your average American at heart. They serve the interests of the monied people and corporations who really run this country. They are both feces floating in the same toilet, IMHO, and the lot of them need to be, at the very least, thrown out of office and deprived of the power that they crave like a drug.

    November 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Mike from MN

    Notice how Mr. Boehner's orange tan disappeared just in time for the election?




    People complaining about Obama/Dems policies have no basis for their arguments! Your taxes and health insurance premiums have not gone up! Funny too, Obamacare is suppose to make more people pay for their own health care instead of waiting for the emergency room – which costs the system lots more in costs! If more people pay for their own premiums that means that that YOU will pay less in taxes!

    And finally, the US has respect and dignity around the world again because Obama is not some cowboy hick who has no idea about how to make friends outside of Texas. There's a reason our NATO allies did not want to work with Bush!

    The Bush/GOP economic and foreign policies are what screwed this country over. Even Bush's economic advisors disapproved of his tax cuts. Bush tax cuts were so bad that the GOP needed to pass a second version to correct the first version!

    Get with reality folks. Tax-cuts for the RICH makes them lazy. Get rid of the Bush tax-cuts for the RICH and that will force the RICH to do something constructive with their money so that they can make and save more money.

    Remember, this is still a country. It's not about "spreading the wealth" as some idiots claim. You don't get RICH all on your own. You owe a lot to all the lesser folks in this country: the people who work for you, who buy your products and services, who serve in civilian duties (police, fire, teachers, etc), and the service men and women who protect this country.

    November 15, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Betelmann

    It seems rather silly to mention the "Tea Party" as a third alternative to Republicans and Democrats, since the "Tea Party" is nothing but an attempt to rebrand the Republican Party. People voted the way they did to express impatience and disatisfaction with the tepid leadership of the Democrats, not to endorse the failed, backward policiies of Conservatives, whether under the Republic or "Tea" banner. The best thing would be for the President and Congressional Democrats to grow a spine, stand up for what they believe, and negotiate hard-headed compromises. Republicans won't go along and thus expose themselves as the power-mad throwbacks that they are.

    November 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |

    Is there anyone who the Republicans won't go off the deep end in believing they have a mandate from the people? They don't of course but they won't see it that way, no matter what they claim publicly. They will move so far to the right that in 2012 they will all be gone once again. The only real question is how much damage will they do this time. How much of of a mess will the democrats have to clean up in 2012?

    November 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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