April 7, 2011

Economic Views Sag, Obama Rating Slips

Section 4: Congress at 100 Days

As the 112th Congress approaches the 100-day mark, most say Republicans in the House of Representatives are not keeping their campaign promises and fewer than half say they are happy the Republicans won control of the House in last November’s election.

Just a third (33%) say that that Republicans in the House are keeping the promises they made during the campaign, while 52% say they are not. Compared with other recent changes in power on Capitol Hill, House Republicans receive lower marks for delivering on campaign promises than did Democrats in 2007 and Republicans in 1995– though, in both 2007 and 1995 the party in power controlled both the House and Senate.

In March 2007, 40% said Democrats in Congress were keeping the promises they made during the campaign, while 38% did not. And in 1995, the public reacted even more positively to the new Republican Congressional leadership: 59% said they were keeping their promises, just 30% said they were not.

In the current survey, most Republicans (54%) say their representatives in the House are keeping their promises, while 33% say they are not. Conservative Republicans (61%) are much more likely than moderate and liberal Republicans (39%) to say that Republicans in the House have followed through on their promises.

Nearly six-in-ten (59%)  Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party movement say House Republicans are keeping their promises while 30% say they are not. Opinions are mixed among Republicans and Republican leaners who have no opinion of the Tea Party or disagree with the movement (42% keeping promises, 45% not keeping promises).

By wide margins, Democrats and independents say that House Republicans are not keeping their campaign promises. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65%) say that House Republicans are not keeping their promises while 23% say that they are; among independents, 54% say House Republicans are not keeping their promises while 30% say that they are.

Public Now Split Over Election Outcome

Shortly after the GOP won control of the House, the public expressed mixed reactions to the outcome; in Pew Research’s post-election survey, 48% said they were happy that the Republicans gained control of the House while 34% were unhappy. Reactions were far more positive to the Democrats winning control of the Congress in 2007 and the Republicans’ sweeping electoral victories in 1994. In both cases, however, those parties won control of both the House and the Senate.

In the new survey, the public is divided in reactions to the GOP’s victory in November; 43% say they are happy the Republican Party won control of the House while about the same percentage (44%) expresses unhappiness.

This follows a pattern from the Democratic congressional victory four years ago and the GOP’s big win in 1995: Public reactions to those power shifts were also somewhat less positive at about the 100-day mark than they were just after the election. Even so, narrow majorities continued to express positive views of those election outcomes (54% happy in March 2007, 52% in April 1995).

Independents are now divided in their reaction to the election: 43% say they are happy the GOP won control of the House while 39% are unhappy. In November, independents by a wide margin (48% to 27%) expressed a positive reaction to the Republicans’ victory. The proportion of Democrats unhappy that the GOP won also has increased (from 73% to 84%). Republicans remain overwhelmingly happy that the GOP won control of the House (90% happy, 6% unhappy).

Boehner Job Approval Ratings

The public is split over the performance of Speaker of the House John Boehner, with many unable to offer a rating of the Republican leader. Boehner is no less visible than Nancy Pelosi was in the spring in 2007, but while Pelosi enjoyed a broadly positive balance of opinion, about as many say they approve of Boehner’s job performance (36%) as disapprove (34%); 29% cannot offer a rating.

In April 1995, Newt Gingrich also received mixed reviews from the public for his performance as Speaker of the House. However, Gingrich was far better known than either Pelosi or Boehner – just 15% could not offer a rating of Gingrich in the spring of 1995.

Tea Party Seen as Separate from the GOP

More continue to say that the Tea Party is a separate and independent movement from the Republican Party (50%) than say it is part of the GOP (36%). Opinion on this question is little changed since last November following the midterm elections (47% separate, 38% part of GOP).

Most Republicans (59%) and independents (54%) view the Tea Party as an independent movement. Democrats, however, are divided: 41% say it is a separate movement, 46% say it is part of the Republican Party.

Two-thirds (67%) of those who agree with the Tea Party say it is a separate and independent movement from the Republican Party. Among those who disagree with the Tea Party, more say it is part of the GOP (52%) than say it is a separate movement (41%).

Tea Party Republicans are dissatisfied with the amount of attention that the movement receives from Republican leaders. More than half (56%) of Republicans and Republican leaders who agree with the Tea Party movement say that Republican leaders pay too little attention to the Tea Party. Just 35% say Republican leaders are paying the right amount of attention, while 2% say the movement gets too much attention from GOP leaders.

By contrast, Republicans and Republican leaders who have no opinion of the Tea Party or disagree with the movement are divided: 33% say Republican leaders pay the right amount of attention to the Tea Party, 29% say too little and 15% say they pay too much attention to the movement.

By roughly two-to-one, more Democrats say GOP leaders are paying too much attention to the ideas of the Tea Party (46%) than too little (24%); 14% say they are paying the right amount of attention to the Tea Party.

Republicans are divided: 38% say that Republican leaders are paying too little attention to the Tea Party, while about as many (34%) say they are paying the right amount; just 10% of Republicans say GOP leaders are paying too much attention to the Tea Party. Among independents, 36% say Republican leaders are paying too little attention to the Tea Party, 24% say too much and the same percentage says the right amount.