12/17: GOP in the Driver’s Seat, but Voters Not Convinced It’s for the Better

Many registered voters nationally think the GOP will have more influence in directing the nation in 2015 than President Barack Obama.  However, only 35% think this will bring about change for the better.

Congressional Republicans take control of the legislature amid continued dissatisfaction with elected officials in Washington and pessimism about the overall direction of the country.  In fact, the job approval rating of the Democrats in Congress is at its lowest point, 27%, and the approval rating of congressional Republicans stands at 28%.  President Obama doesn’t fare much better.  His approval rating is at 43% among registered voters, and his favorable rating is upside down.  On the specifics of Mr. Obama’s job performance, fewer voters think well of how he is handling foreign policy than previously, and he receives a lukewarm rating on his approach to the economy.

More than six in ten voters say the new Republican-controlled Congress should amend, if not repeal, the 2010 health care law. About one-third think the GOP should focus on other items on the national agenda.

Americans are not overly optimistic about the future of their family’s finances.

“The balance in power has changed in Washington,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “But, voters need to see results to reverse their sense of dysfunction in government.”

Complete December 17, 2014 McClatchy-Marist Poll of the United States

Poll points:

  • Regardless of party, more than six in ten voters, 61%, think the Republicans in Congress will have more influence over the direction of the nation in 2015.  29% believe President Obama will be the driving force, and 2% report neither will be in command.
  • When it comes to who voters want to have more influence, 48% prefer the GOP to take the lead while 42% want Obama in charge.  Looking at party, while 93% of Republicans want the GOP to have the most impact,  82% of Democrats look to President Obama to take the lead.  47% of independents turn to the GOP for leadership, and 40% put their stock in President Obama.
  • While 35% of voters think the Republican-controlled Congress will effect change for the better, a plurality, 40%, doesn’t expect to see any impact at all.  One in five, 20%, reports GOP control will be change for the worse.
  • Seven in ten voters, 70%, think it is better for government officials to compromise to find solutions than stand on principle.  Democrats, 82%, are more likely than Republicans, 59%, to choose to compromise.  More than one-third of Republicans, 36%, value principle over compromise compared with 15% of Democrats who have this view.
  • Close to two-thirds of Americans, 64%, are pessimistic about the direction of the country.  31% say the nation is on track, and 6% are unsure.  Earlier this fall, 61% of residents said the country was going in the wrong direction, and 35% reported it was moving in the right one (Trend).
  • The job approval rating of congressional Democrats is at its lowest point, 27%, since McClatchy-Marist began reporting this question. The previous low for Democrats was 28% and occurred in November of 2011 (Trend).  In October, 33% of voters approved of how the Democrats were doing their job.
  • The job approval rating of the Republicans in Congress, 28%, also falls short in voters’ eyes.  In October, 24% of registered voters approved of how the congressional GOP was doing its job (Trend).
  • 43% of registered voters nationally approve of the job President Obama is doing in office while 52% disapprove.  Obama’s approval rating stood at 46% in October (Trend)Mr. Obama’s favorable rating is also upside down.  44% have a favorable impression of him while a majority, 54%, does not.  Voters divided on the president’s image, 48% to 49%, respectively, earlier this fall (Trend).
  • 38% of the national electorate, down from 46% in October, approve of how the president is handling foreign policy.  52% disapprove, and 10% are unsure (Trend).
  • On his handling of the economy, 41% of voters approve of how the president is tackling the issue.  This is unchanged from 41% in McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey.  55% currently disapprove of how President Obama is dealing with the economy (Trend).
  • More than six in ten registered voters nationally, 61%, want the Republicans in Congress to make changes to the 2010 health care law.  This includes 23% who want the law repealed and 38% who favor modifications to the legislation.  34%, though, say the GOP should focus their efforts on other issues.  While 53% of Democrats want the GOP to focus on other issues, and 48% of Republicans want to eliminate the law, 38% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans want changes to be made to the law.  A plurality of independents, 43%, would like the health care law modified.
  • 51% of Americans expect their personal family finances to stay about the same in the coming year.  32% think they will see an improvement, and 17% believe their family’s financial situation will get worse.  In October, 54% reported their money matters would be status quo, 30% thought they would get better, and 17% believed they would get worse (Trend).

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables