Electoral wins usually come with talk of political mandates and political capital. Yet as the Republicans assume congressional leadership roles this month, public approval for their “policies and plans for the future” is low relative to previous new majorities’. As of this month, a PSRA/Pew poll reports that only 34 percent of Americans approve of the Republican agenda; 43 percent disapprove.
These numbers have worsened for Republicans since November, a change that can largely be attributed to the views of moderate Republicans, 78 percent of whom supported Republican congressional leaders’ plans in November; only 57 percent do now, a net loss of 22 points.
Similarly, a CNN/Opinion Research poll reports that that, despite Republican wins in November, 50 percent of the public want Obama to have more influence over the direction of the country in the next two years; only 44 percent want Republicans to have more influence. (By comparison, 49 percent of Americans wanted the Republicans to have more influence following the 1994 elections, 40 percent wanted Clinton to.)
When Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, Pew reported that 50 percent of Americans approved of Democratic congressional leaders’ policies (21 percent disapproved). Likewise, CNN/Opinion Research reported in December of 2006 that 49 percent of the public thought Democratic leaders’ policies would move the country in the right direction; 39 percent thought wrong direction. A month later, in January 2007, right track respondents had increased to 51 percent and wrong track respondents fell to 31 percent. Over the same transition period this time around, favor for current Republican policies fell.
While the new Republican majority can boast an overwhelming showing in the last election, so far the support in the voting booths has not translated to even plurality support for Republican congressional leaders’ agenda