November 15, 2018

Public Expects Gridlock, Deeper Divisions With Changed Political Landscape

2. Reactions to the midterm elections

Majority is happy with outcome of elections across the U.S.In the wake of last week’s election, 57% of Americans say that – all in all – they are happy with the results; 41% say they are unhappy.

This is similar to the 59% majority who say they are happy the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives (38% say they are unhappy). But when it comes to the GOP maintaining control of the Senate, somewhat more say they are unhappy than happy (52% vs. 45%).

Modest partisan gap in overall happiness about the election resultsThere is only a modest partisan gap in overall reactions to the outcome of the election: 60% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans say they are happy with the overall outcome.

But conservative Republicans offer somewhat less positive overall evaluations of the election than other partisan and ideological groups: 51% are happy, while a similar share (48%) are unhappy.

Public generally has more positive than negative reactions to shifts in congressional controlIn evaluations of midterms since 1994, the public has generally been more happy than unhappy about a change of power in a congressional chamber. This pattern holds true for the 2018 election.

As in the past, an overwhelming majority of those who back the party that has regained control of a chamber express happiness about this: 91% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they are happy about their party winning the House. About three-quarters of Republicans and Republican leaners (77%) are unhappy about this change.

Conversely, while 87% of Republicans and Republican leaners are happy the GOP maintained control of the Senate, almost the same share of Democrats (86%) are unhappy about this.

Among Republicans, more disappointment than anger over Democrats winning House majorityOverall, 40% of Americans say they are relieved about the Democratic Party gaining control of the House; slightly fewer 34% say they are disappointed. And while about two-in-ten (19%) say they are excited, just 5% say they are angry about this outcome.

Most Republicans and Republican leaners (72%) say they are disappointed about Democrats gaining control of the House, while just 11% say they are angry; 11% say they are relieved about this outcome (4% are excited).

A 63% majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they are relieved by their party’s victory in congressional races; about a third (31%) express excitement that their party is back in the majority in the House. And few Democrats say they are disappointed (4%) or angry (less than 1%) about this development.

These reactions are very similar to how Republicans and Democrats expected to feel about this outcome before the election. For instance, in October, 61% of Democrats said they would be relieved if the Democratic Party regained control of the House and 68% of Republicans said they would be disappointed if this happened.

Most Americans know Democrats will have House majority

Most aware Dems won House majority; fewer know which party won most votesAbout seven-in-ten Americans (69%) know that the Democratic Party won the most seats nationwide in this month’s elections for the House of Representatives, while 22% say they don’t know which party won more seats. There is far less certainty about which party won the most votes nationwide for the House: About four-in-ten (41%) say they do not know, while about half (51%) know more votes for Congress were cast for Democratic candidates than for Republican candidates.

Republicans (68%) and Democrats (72%) are about equally likely to know who will control the House in January, while Democrats (58%) are more likely than Republicans to know Democratic candidates received more votes nationwide (44%).

Majority says 2018 was more about issues compared with past elections

Dems more likely than Reps to say more discussion of issues this year than pastAbout six-in-ten (59%) say there was more discussion of issues this campaign compared to past elections. Four-in-ten (40%) say there was less discussion of issues this year than in the past.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the campaign was more substantive than in the past: Roughly two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (66%) say there was more discussion of issues; just 33% say there was less. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more divided in their evaluations: 52% say there was more focus on issues than in the past, 46% say less.