Americans overwhelmingly say that the midterm election results that gave Republicans control of the House represented a rejection of the Democrats and not a mandate for the GOP, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted Nov. 11-14. (Story
; Poll data
Seventy percent of those surveyed said the results were a rejection of Democratic rule in the House while 17 percent called it a mandate for Republicans. Eight percent answered "neither" and 5 percent had no opinion.
"That's the classic pattern in elections like these," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, referring to the Democratic takeover in 2006 and the GOP's victory in 1994. "Most Americans seem to believe that these elections were 'throw-the-bums-out' events."
In 2006, 60 percent described the Democratic victory as a rejection of the Republicans, whose fortunes had been spiraling downward during former President Bush's second term. Twenty-seven percent said it was a mandate for the Democrats.
In 1994, when the Republicans enjoyed their previous big victory and takeover of the House, 60 percent said the reason was rejection of the Democrats while 18 percent called it a mandate for Republicans.
Forty-four percent said the most important factor in the Republicans' victory was disapproval of President Obama while another 35 percent said it was opposition to the Democrats. Fourteen percent said it was support for the Republicans, while 5 percent said there were other reasons and 2 percent had no opinion.
Forty-eight percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Democrats in the aftermath of the election compared to 46 percent who see them favorably, with 6 percent expressing no opinion. That's about the same kind of split opinion that CNN's late October poll found.
The figures for the Republicans since the election are somewhat more negative. Forty-eight percent see them unfavorably while 43 percent regard them favorably, with 9 percent taking neither side. In late October, 44 percent saw the GOP favorably and 43 percent did not.
Holland said, "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."
While a majority believes that Republican control will be good for the House, there is less agreement that it will make much of a difference in terms of whether they will do a better job than the Democrats.
Fifty-two percent said GOP control would be good for the country while 39 percent disagree, with the rest taking no position. That compares to the Democratic takeover in 2006, when 67 percent said it would be good for the country and 24 percent believed it would not, with the remainder taking no position.
Asked if Republicans would do a better job of running the House, 44 percent said it would make no difference, 33 percent said they'd do better and 21 percent said worse. In 2006, 46 percent believed the newly-enabled Democratic majority would do a better job of running the House than the Republicans, 14 percent said they'd do worse and 39 percent predicted there'd be no difference.
Forty-one percent also said they don't think Republican control will make much difference when it comes to getting things done, while 32 percent believe more will get done and 26 percent predict less will get done.
The tea party movement is seen unfavorably by 42 percent and favorably by 38 percent with 9 percent answering that they never heard of it and 11 percent having no opinion. In late October, the favorables and unfavorables were evenly divided. Asked whether the movement should become a formal political party with its own candidates, Americans split at 48 percent each, with 4 percent having no opinion.
The poll also found that the public tended to have a somewhat better opinion of the political views of the Republicans than they did for the Democrats.
Forty-three percent described the Republicans' views as "about right" while 37 percent said they were too conservative and 17 percent saying they were too liberal, with 4 percent undecided.
Forty-nine percent found the Democrats' views to be too liberal compared to 39 percent who described them as "about right." Ten percent said they were too conservative and 2 percent had no opinion. In 2006, 54 percent regarded the Democrats' views as about right.
There's no straight comparison to make of these figures to the election results since the CNN poll was of all Americans and not just those motivated to go to the polls.
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