Americans Not Psyched About GOP Majority

Striking contrast from 1994, 2006, when large majorities were "happy" the House changed hands

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Melancholy Americans are shrugging a collective shoulder about Republicans retaking the majority in the House, a striking contrast from 1994 and 2006, when large majorities were "happy" the chamber changed hands. People are also pessimistic about the likelihood of bipartisanship and skeptical about GOP plans for the country.

According to a new poll from Pew, just 48 percent of Americans are "happy" about the GOP's congressional success, while 34 percent are "unhappy." In 1994, the split was 60 percent happy and 24 percent unhappy about Republican gains; in 2006, feelings on the Democrats' success ran 57 percent happy 31 percent unhappy. Only 22 percent think bipartisanship is now more likely. Just 41 percent approve of Republican policies, and 37 percent disapprove (in 2006, people approved of Democratic plans 50 percent to 21 percent). The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza looks at the dreary data and writes, "The Republicans' victory then is best understood as a rejection of Democratic policies by voters rather than a warm embrace of the policies put forward by the GOP. The election changed little in the overall outlook of most Americans who continue to struggle in their relationship with government -- what it should do, when and how much."

  • Lame Duck Session Offers First Test, Gwen Ifill writes at PBS. "Lawmakers - many of them still limping - will return to Washington next week for an inordinately consequential lame duck session. On the agenda: nuclear treaties, gays in the military, budget resolutions and tax cuts. In other words, there will be plenty of opportunities for the victors and the vanquished to ... put up or shut up."
  • It's Still About the Economy, Steve Benen says at The Washington Monthly. "For two weeks, GOP leaders have been claiming to speak for the country," Benen writes, with Republicans claiming Americans want taxes cut and health care repealed. "Reality check: the 'American people' think the economy stinks so they punished the incumbent majority. Republicans made gains because they were the alternative, not because they were right. We're talking about the first time in recent memory in which an unpopular party was replaced with an even more unpopular party. That should be a weight on GOP shoulders, not a chip on GOP shoulders."
  • GOP on a Short Leash, NBC News's Domenico Montanaro writes. The polls numbers "could reflect what many of us heard on the trail and is reflected in polling -- that few are satisfied with either party. In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and the exit polls across the country, both parties' fav/unfav ratings were upside down -- and Republicans were even worse than Democrats. The Tea Party has been skeptical of the GOP establishmen, and it's a reason why Speaker-in-Waiting Boehner has tried to bring them into the fold creating two new leadership positions, largely tailored to the Tea Party."
  • Compromise Unlikely, Jack Stuef writes. "They want you to compromise. But if you compromise, they’ll think you’re a pussy. Hmm, which one of those sounds more pleasing to Republican politicians?"
  • Gap in Expectations, Greg Sargent notices at the Washington Post. "Some interesting findings buried in the new Pew poll suggest Republicans and Democrats have starkly different expectations of their leaders: Republicans want their leaders to be less moderate and less compromising, while Dems want precisely the opposite." Sargent notices that 66 percent of Republicans want lawmakers to "stand up to Obama," but 46 percent (the plurality) of Democrats say the president should work with the GOP. "Maybe this just reflects Dem demoralization in the wake of last week's shellacking. But whatever the cause, GOP leaders know they have no reason to blink in the coming showdowns."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.