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Newest Gallup Poll message to Republicans: YOU SUCK!
Public expects the Democrats to deliver
Updated 11/14/2006 11:29 AM ET E-mail | Save | Print | Reprints & Permissions |
By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON â€” Americans are pinning their hopes for the country's future on the incoming Democratic Congress and its largely unfamiliar leaders, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
In the poll taken Thursday through Sunday, just after Democrats swept to majorities in the House and Senate, those surveyed said by nearly 2-to-1 that they want Democrats to have more influence than President Bush on the direction of the nation. Nearly half said the country will be better off under Democrats; 16% said it will be worse off; and one-third predicted no difference.
Bush's job-approval rating was 33%, tying his second-lowest ever. The Republican Party was viewed favorably by 35% â€” an eight-year low.
Democrats had a 57% favorable rating, their highest since January 2004 and 4 percentage points higher than the 53% share that exit polls indicated the party's congressional candidates won on Election Day.
Joel Benenson, a Democratic strategist whose firm worked on several Senate races, said the poll underscores the message voters sent Bush. "They expect the Democratic Party to have influence with the president," he said. "They want things to get done. They think the Democrats can help make that happen."
Wes Anderson, a Republican strategist whose firm handled independent spending for the GOP Senate campaign committee, said voters fired his party for incompetence. "The challenge for the Democrats at this point is living up to the billing," he said. "The bar is set probably higher than they want it to be set."
Democrats appear for now to have buried their image as soft on security, despite charges by Bush and other Republicans that terrorists would gain ground if Democrats won majorities. By 63%-33%, poll respondents said it is not likely Democrats in Congress will take steps that would weaken national security.
In other expectations, 6 in 10 said it is likely Democrats in Congress will raise taxes. Half said it's likely Democrats will make prescription drugs less expensive and vote to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq.
There was skepticism about Democratic pledges to clean up ethics and cut the budget deficit. About half said it's unlikely that Democrats will try to reduce corruption; 58% said deficit reduction is unlikely.
The Democrats set to lead their party on Capitol Hill are relatively unknown. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, in line to be speaker, had a 38% favorable rating. The same percentage said they had never heard of her or had no opinion about her.
More than half said they'd never heard of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., or had no opinion of him. The future Senate majority leader was viewed favorably by 27%.
Only 24% in the poll identify themselves as Republicans, down from 31% just before the election. That's the smallest percentage since December 1998, when only 20% said they were Republicans. The post-election dropoff is not unusual for a losing party; self-identified Democrats fell from 34% to 28% in 1994, when Republicans seized Congress.
Democrats stayed relatively constant, edging from 34% to 35%. Independents registered the largest gain, from 32% before the election to 40% afterward.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who announced his plans to resign the day after the election and before the poll was taken, shot to a record 57% unfavorable rating â€” up 12 points since September
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address