West Long Branch, NJ - The American public does not hold much hope for breaking Washington's partisan gridlock in the new year. With a Democrat in the White House and both chambers of Congress about to be controlled by Republicans, the latest Monmouth University Poll finds that a plurality of Americans feel the state of the country will likely be no different than it is now.
Less than half of Americans are hopeful that the new Republican-controlled Congress and Democratic President Barack Obama will be able to work together - with just 17% being very hopeful and 28% somewhat hopeful. Another 19% are not too hopeful and one-third (33%) are not at all hopeful that the legislative and executive branches of government can work together next year. There is practically no partisan difference in this opinion. Nearly identical numbers of Democrats (44%), Republicans, (44%) and independents (47%) are at least somewhat hopeful of a better working relationship in Washington, with only about 1-in-6 of each group being very hopeful.
A plurality (46%) of Americans say the state of the country will not change under the new Congress. The remainder are divided - 27% say it will get better and 22% say it will get worse. Republicans (44%) are somewhat more likely to say things will get better and Democrats are somewhat more likely to say things will get worse (34%).
"Republicans taking control of the Senate may herald a new day among politicos, but for most Americans it seems more like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
Just 23% of Americans feel the country is heading in the right direction while a whopping 69% say things are on the wrong track. President Obama gets an upside-down 41% approve to 49% disapprove job rating. Congress does even worse at 17% approve to 73% disapprove.
The public holds basically the same opinion of both chambers of Congress - 60% say they have performed about the same, while 15% say the House of Representatives has been doing a better job for the country and 14% say the Senate has been doing a better job.
The poll looked ahead to 2016 and the hypothetical possibility that both the next president and Congressional leadership may come from the same party. About half (49%) of the public believes that this outcome would help get things done in Washington, 35% say it would make no difference, and another 10% feel that one-party control of the executive and legislative branches would actually make gridlock worse. Republicans (70%) - perhaps being more optimistic about their prospects for winning both Congress and the White House - are more likely than Democrats (41%) or independents (44%) to feel that one-party control would improve Washington gridlock.
Most Americans are aware that Republicans won control of the Senate (71%) and kept control of the House (67%) in last month's mid-term elections. This marks some improvement in awareness of DC politics. A Monmouth University Poll taken last year found fewer Americans knew that the House was controlled by the GOP (49%) and the Senate by Democrats (45%). Of course, that poll was taken in the summer of an off-year, when the public is less attuned to politics than it is during an election season.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from December 10 to 14, 2014 with 1,008 adults in the United States. This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
The questions referred to in this release are as follows:
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?
3. Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?
4. As you may know, Congress is divided into two chambers. Which one has been doing a better job for the country – the Senate or the House of Representatives – or have they performed about the same?
[QUESTIONS 5 AND 6 WERE ROTATED]
5. Do you know which party won control of the Senate in last month’s elections? [IfYES: Which one – Democrat or Republican?]
6. Do you know which party won control of the House of Representatives in last month’s elections? [If YES: Which one – Democrat or Republican?]
7. Next year, Republicans will control both the Senate and the House. How hopeful are you that the new Congress and President Obama will be able to work together – very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, not too hopeful, or not at all hopeful?
8. Under the new Congress, do you think the state of the country will get better, get worse, or stay about the same?
9. Looking ahead to the next election – if both the new president and the Congressional leadership come from the same party – do you think that would help get things done in Washington, would that make gridlock even worse, or would that make no difference?
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from December 10 to 14, 2014 with a national random sample of 1,008 adults age 18 and older. This includes 677 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 331 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.
Download this Poll Report with all tables