Pew Study: Public Less Excited About 2010 GOP Gains Compared to Midterms Past

BY Quinn Bowman  November 11, 2010 at 1:31 PM EDT

A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that the public is less satisfied with the outcome of the 2010 midterm election when compared to public sentiment after the Congressional power shifts that took place in 2006 and 1994.

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According to a survey of 1,255 adults taken Nov. 4- 7 2010, 48 percent of the public (people who voted and people who did not) were happy with the results of the midterm elections this year. In 2006, when Democrats won control of the House from Republicans, 60 percent of those surveyed said they were happy with the result. In 1994, when Republicans won the House and Senate, the figure was a similar 57 percent happiness level.

The survey also reveals that the public doesn’t think the two parties will do much cooperating. Seventy-six percent of the survey respondents think partisan gridlock will get worse or stay the same. From Pew’s Director Andrew Kohut:

There is little optimism that, in the wake of the election, relations between the two parties will improve. Just 22 percent expect relations between Republicans and Democrats to get better, 28 percent say they will get worse while 48 percent say they will stay the same. These views are similar to opinions in November 2006, but more negative than after the presidential election two years ago, when 37 percent expected partisan relations to improve and just 18 percent predicted they would get worse.

Some other findings:

  • Fifty-two percent of those who voted were happy with the outcome, while only 42 percent of non-voters felt the same way. On policy grounds, 49 percent of non-voters support government spending to improve the economy(typically a Democratic position), compared to 41 percent of voters.

  • Independent voters, who swung to the GOP from the Democrats in 2010 told Pew at a rate of 57 percent that they think the new GOP House should work with President Obama and 59 percent of independents think President Obama should do the same.

Next week’s lame duck session in Congress, when the House and Senate will attempt to work out a solution to the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, will be the first test of how much appetite there is for cooperation on Capitol Hill.