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. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    We need the parties and politicians to understand that they need to show some restraint in spending. We also need to agree that there will be a need to raise taxes to cover the amount of spending during the Bush administration (unrestrained Congress and the conflicts). We need everyone to pitch in and help.

    November 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. blake

    It was a mandate against big government, big deficits, Marxism, and anti-American sentiment with Obama and a Democratically controlled Congress. The Republicans will only have the support of the American people if they hold to their conservative core.

    November 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. German,Irish,American

    Dale- Get us out of two wars, so far so good. Really? The groundwork for getting out of Iraq was set up by Bush, before Barry Sotero even took office. Barry has since ESCALATED the war in Afghanistan with seemingly no progress. But, keep drinking the kool-aid because, tingle up my leg, yes we can, hopey changey, we elected the first half-black man, who also happenes to be the smartest man in the world, for President. Nevermind the fact that he wasn't smart enough to understand the surge in Iraq, wasn't smart enough to understand that the stimulus would not creat 4 million jobs in the private sector in 2009 and keep unemployment under 8%, wasn't smart enough to read the healthcare bill and understand that insurance premiums would go up instead of down, wasn't smart enough to comprehend what action to take after the gulf oil spill.

    November 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. William

    Well yea if you only ask the DEMOS the questions which is what CNN obviously did! Of course it was a mandate don't you remember the GOP actually ran on something while the DEMOS ran away from everything they had done. So for any idiot to suggest now after the greatest election since 1938 that it was not a mandate is insane. I know the liberal media loves to play these stupid games but please get real! Like OBAMA said ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!

    November 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Samantha

    You can fool some of the all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time. Obama is still fooling too many people. His photo ops, pictures with foreign leaders, with dogs and family, with Paul McCartney actually work! Only his policies and his programs don't.

    Obama is wasting the American public's time. I thought that message was sent at the polls, but apparently not.

    November 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Danny Cali

    Anyway Republican Party is still stand with the big "NO" after election. So, your guy still see more "NO" and "NO" next year.

    November 15, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Jay

    Wow John from Pa. I didn't know people at McDonalds were so animated.

    November 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Martin Reese

    I think these numbers are very useful. I think it says that americans arent necissarily frusterated with Obama, More so they were frusterated with Democrats and Republicans as a whole. I think the Tea Party has Shaken up and may change the Republican party here in 2010 and perhaps decide a New Changeā„¢ in 2012 that the dems couldnt achieve starting in 2008. Perhaps This election and the one before will revitilize the American Government System. If you can say anything. Its that Since the 2008 Elections Americans have become reducated and more knowledgable in the decision making of Government. And For that I thank you President Obama.

    November 15, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Ted

    Boehner and McClownell and the rest need to extricate their heads from the sand and realize that it is not about them. They are not the reason GOP did well. The TEA Party is what did it, not the mainstream GOP which is in the same sorry place as the mainstream Dems. I feel strongly that the swamp needs to be drained and all new people sent to Washington. The career politicians, on either side, are what the problem is and why the deficits and earmarks and all that happy jazz goes on. The GOP said they will do away with earmarks. Sure they will. That is not going to happen until pigs fly. Both parties are to blame. GOP will lose to Dems in 2012. In the meantime, much will be said and little will be done other than subsidies for big business and tax cuts for the rich. The rest of us working stiffs get pounded on.

    November 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This is no more than a "honeymoon" poll, the jury is still out as to what happens after the honeymoon is over.

    November 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. shamgar50

    No mandate. Just a bunch of fools, voting for anybody but the incumbent. A really dumb way to pick a candidate.
    "In a democracy the people get the government they deserve."

    November 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. colinsux

    Bush tax cuts, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Unemployment, Healthcare, Partisanship, Sarah Palin...can't you see that these are just distractions from the real issue at hand? LEGALIZE POT!

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

    Which is exactly the way Republican's have portrayed the vote, so what's your point?

    Now we just need to hold them to it.

    November 15, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Some leadership: Boo-Hoo Boehner, The Turtle and the Fatboy.
    More like the Three Stooges, or the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
    Take your pick, either way if President Obama doesn't get tough we're screwed with these clowns.

    November 15, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. TwM

    They didn't poll me or any of my friends that voted against Obama. PERIOD. We want change to everything that buffoon pushed through. This is definitely a mandate against the Obama/Progressive agenda.

    November 15, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. JD

    This just in: 1/2 of americans dont understand what the word 'mandate' means.

    November 15, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. David Fields

    Unlike a previous poster, almost everyone I know is supporting Obama.

    The Right shouts so much, and blogs angrily so much, that they don't even see that a lot of people don't agree with them.

    Part of the oddness about the Bush/Republican era was that they were delusional. There are facts, and shouting non-facts eventually gets you in trouble–because you start believing them. Deficits are terrible! so let' taxes for the wealthy....and repeal Medicare cuts? that really work for the Republicans?

    November 15, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Jacob

    Ok GOP, are you ready to actually do something now!? after you stood silent for two years in the worst economic crisis of our time, just so you could gain seats in the 2010 and 2012 elections!

    Your party is despicable!!

    November 15, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. S Poboril

    Betty, you scare me. You are listening to sound bites, not observing results. My grand daughter could not get health insurance under the former policies. Now she has it under her mother's healthcare plan. You are already paying for hidden costs that this plan tries to cover. The company I worked for before retiring was good to its employees but had to change carriers every year because premiums got higher and higher with coverages less and less. I can now continue my coverage with pre-existing conditions thanks to these plans. You try to repeal this new plan, and I will be after you and your ilk by working every minute I can to make sure that we get rid of you with the next ballot.

    Exit polls showed that the public want jobs, jobs, jobs. Now that is an overall–not just Republicans who simply want back in power and make me pay for all the corporate and rich perks.

    November 15, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. carlos

    republiCONServatives will be toast the next election unless they STEAL it,for that they are well known

    November 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. carlos

    the three stoogies looked a LOT better than those three nincompoops in the picture, hehehehe

    November 15, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Charles W. Skinner

    You've got to be kidding me. Ok. So the 20% of the population that routinely votes Democrat and SOME of the independent voters said this is not a mandate. That statement ALONE shows how out of touch they are with the rest of the American people. This was and OVERWHELMING mandate and rejection of the Democrat controlled Congress and of President Obama's liberal / Stalinist Statist agenda (he's moved beyond even Marxism). That this was not a mandate is wishful thinking at best, and outright denial at worst on the part of the Democrat voters who just got shellacked.

    We Conservatives are eagerly awaiting 2012, when we can remove Obama from OUR misery, and REPEAL the damage done in the 2009-2010 Congressional cycle, with a Senate that the TEA Partiers will DOMINATE given the number of Democrats that have to defend seats (over 2 to 1). The Republicans are GUARANTEED to pick up over half of the seats up for election.

    November 15, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Leon Childs

    I really really hate to inject race into this conversation because so many people use it as an excuse, and the president will never do it because he should be and he is for all the people. With that said people keep complaining about his policies and were they are takingg our country and I think we are moving far ahead. The healthcare, the man only wants to see a nation were the insurance companies can stop with their abuse. He did not start the bailouts and Tarp money GW did. And the wars lets not even get into it, one illegal and one unneccesary staeted by GW. Repubs, hatemongerers and racist come out the closet and just say you do not like him because he is a man of color in office.

    November 15, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. kd


    Obama really has accomplished a ton of good things. The horrid economy doesn't turn around in less than two years because a government wills it to. But no one is noticing that the debt shrunk by 20% last year, thanks to Obama. Or that job losses were slowed-to-stopped due to Obama. Or that the economy is slowly scratching itself back. That may be natural. What wasn't natural was the fast decline of the economy thanks to Bush and the Republicans.

    November 15, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. linn

    Of course its not a mandate on republicans. Its a rebuke for Obama and his policys.

    November 15, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6