- By 39% to 24%, more consider Democrats' U.S. House win a plus than a minus
- Current views similar to those after Republican victory in 2010
- Americans are split over which party should direct federal policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' expectations about the effect that Democrats' newly won control of the U.S. House will have on the country are mixed, similar to their outlook after Republicans retook control of the House in 2010. More think the country will be better off as a result of Democrats' taking control (39%) than say the country will be worse off (24%), while a sizable segment, 34%, are expecting no change.
|Better off||Worse off||No difference||Net "better off"|
|Reaction to Democrats winning control of the U.S. House|
|2018 Nov 13-18||39||24||34||+15|
|Reaction to Republicans winning control of the U.S. House|
|2010 Nov 19-21||37||22||39||+15|
|Reaction to Republicans winning control of Congress|
|1994 Nov 28-29||43||18||35||+25|
|% No opinion not shown|
Americans' postelection outlook was slightly more positive after the 1994 midterms, when the GOP gained control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Just over four in 10 were optimistic at that point, while 18% were pessimistic.
Americans' responses to the election can be summarized in a net-reaction score, which is the difference between those expecting the country to be better off and those expecting it to be worse off. The net reaction is +15 today, matching the +15 in 2010 but less positive than the +25 in 1994.
Democrats More Optimistic Than Republicans Are Pessimistic
As expected, Americans' reactions to the midterm elections differ sharply by party.
Rank-and-file Democrats are overwhelmingly upbeat about the implications of having a Democratic majority in Congress, with 78% saying the country will be better off, 1% saying it will be worse off and 20% expecting no effect.
Republicans are negative, on balance, about the change in power, with 56% saying the country will be worse off and only 6% better off. But 36% say it will make no difference.
The +77 net reaction score among Democrats today is consistent with the +73 and +75 net reaction scores of Republicans in 2010 and 1994, respectively, when their party gained seats.
Naturally, the reaction of the opposing party is always more negative than positive, but it was less emphatically negative in 1994 than either today or in 2010. Republicans' current -50 net reaction score is similar to Democrats' -49 reaction to the GOP victory in 2010 but is more negative than Democrats' -25 reaction in 1994.
Across all three elections, independents have been slightly more likely to believe the country would be better off than worse off, as seen in their net-reaction scores, which range from +15 to +21.
|November 1994||November 2010||November 2018|
|pct. pts.||pct. pts.||pct. pts.|
Public Split Between Wanting Democrats vs. Republicans in Charge
With President Donald Trump heading the executive branch and Republicans holding on to control of the U.S. Senate, there are now three power centers in the federal government: Trump, the Democratic leaders in Congress and the Republican leaders in Congress.
Asked which of these three they would like to see have the most influence on federal government policies over the next year, 47% of Americans choose the Democratic leaders in Congress, 23% prefer Trump and 22% name the Republican leaders in Congress. However, overall, Americans' preferences are split at 47% for Democratic leadership versus 45% Republican leadership, including Trump and Republican congressional leaders.
The Democrats in Congress lead because almost all Democrats (and almost half of independents) choose them, while Republicans (and the remaining independents) split their choice between Trump and the Republicans in Congress.
|President Trump||Democratic leaders||Republican leaders||Other (vol.)||No opinion|
|* Less than 0.5%; (vol.) = volunteered response|
|Gallup, Nov. 13-18, 2018|
Americans' reaction to the Democratic Party's gaining control of the U.S. House is similar to what it was when Republicans took over in 2010, but less positive than when Republicans ended four decades of Democratic House control in 1994.
In all of these years, partisanship greatly influenced people's evaluations of the result. Democrats' reaction to the 2018 midterms is straightforward -- they are broadly optimistic that the country will be better off as a result and are clear about wanting House Democrats to have a leading role in setting national policy. Republicans are less unified in feeling discouraged by the election results, with 56% saying the country will be worse off. That may partly reflect Republicans' consolation that their party is still in control of the White House and U.S. Senate. And while Republicans presumably want Trump and Senate Republicans to work together, they are about evenly split over which of those two power centers should wield the most influence going forward.
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