How do Americans feel about the fact that, with their Election Day victory, Republicans were able maintain control of the House of Representatives and regain control of the Senate? The answer is not overwhelming in any one direction. A Nov. 22-24 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll* finds nearly 4 in 10 Americans (38%) say Republican control of the legislative branch will not make any difference for the country. But another one-third say the country will be better off, and a slightly lower number -- almost 3 in 10 -- say the country will be worse off.
Differences Between 1994 and 2002
Gallup first asked this question in October 1994, just prior to the elections in which the Republicans wrested control of both the House and Senate from the Democrats for the first time since 1954. At that time, 45% of Americans said a Republican-controlled Congress would not make any difference for the country, but by a nearly 2-to-1 margin the public thought the country would be better off (34%) than worse off (18%). In the aftermath of the 1994 elections, that margin grew and a plurality of Americans, 43%, said the country would be better off with a Republican majority in Congress, while only 18% said it would be worse off. Thirty-five percent said it would make no difference.
Democrats Today Are More Likely to Say Country "Worse Off" With Republicans in Control
Democrats' opinions this year are quite different from those expressed during the 1994 midterm congressional elections. Today, Democrats are much more likely to feel the country will be worse off with Republicans in control of Congress than they were in 1994.
The current results show that 56% of Democrats say the country will be worse off now that the Republicans have control of Congress. In October and November of 1994, only about 4 in 10 Democrats expressed this sentiment, and that percentage dropped to 33% by the end of December 1994.
In both the 1994 and 2002 election seasons, roughly three in four Republicans said the country would be better off with Republicans in control of both houses, and about one-quarter said it would make no difference. Few Republicans said the country would be worse off during either election year.
When asked whether the Republican victories in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will make things in the country better, worse, or not make any difference, there is no clear answer. Generally, optimists tend to outweigh the pessimists by a 33% to 28% margin, but still the greatest percentage of Americans, 38%, say it will not make any difference to the country at all.
In comparison to the Republican victories in the 1994 elections, more Americans today are inclined to say the Republican-controlled Congress will make things worse. Democrats in particular are much more likely to express this point of view now than they were in 1994 -- the fact that there was a Democrat in the White House that year probably assuaged their fears to some degree.
*Results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 22-24, 2002. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3%. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.