11/16/2006 - The Democrats' big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP's electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago. Six-in-ten Americans say they are happy that the Democratic Party won control of Congress; in December 1994, roughly the same percentage (57%) expressed a positive opinion of the GOP's takeover.
Half of Americans approve of the Democrats' plans and policies for the future, which also is comparable to approval of the GOP's proposed agenda in 1994. However, there is one important area where the parallels to 1994 do not hold: By 51%-29%, more Americans want Democratic leaders rather than President Bush to take the lead in solving the nation's problems. Twelve years ago, the public was divided over whether GOP congressional leaders (43%), or President Clinton (39%), should take the lead in addressing national problems.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted Nov. 9-12, 2006, among 1,479 Americans finds that Americans are optimistic that Democrats will actually get their proposals enacted. Roughly six-in-ten (59%) say Democratic leaders will be successful in getting their programs passed into law; again, this is on par with the confidence that Americans voiced about GOP legislative prospects in December 1994.
However, in the wake of a bitter midterm campaign, the public is dubious that the election will lead to increased bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. Just 29% think that relations between Republicans and Democrats will get better in the year ahead; 46% expect relations to remain the same; and 20% predict relations will get worse.
Read the full report Public Cheers Democratic Victory: Expectations as High as for GOP in 1994 on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.