Poll: Tea Party support grows; USA divided

November 24, 2010

By Susan Page, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Just about as manyAmericans want Tea Party-backed members of Congress to take the lead in setting policy during the next year as choose PresidentObama, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

In a survey taken Friday through Sunday, 28% say Obama should have the most influence on government policy next year while 27% say the Tea Party standard-bearers should. GOP congressionalleaders are chosen by 23%, Democratic congressional leaders by 16%.

The results reflect the strength of the Tea Party movement as the GOP prepares to take control of the House of Representatives in January.

The survey also underscores Obama’s weakened standing. His overall job approval rating, at 42%, is 1 percentage point higher than his historic low in midsummer. His 35% approval rating on the economy is the lowest of his presidency.

The nation’s mood “guarantees that there will be gridlock,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “The government follows public opinion and public opinion is all over the lot about who should now be running things.”

Sabato predicts that “overlapping, contradictory mandates” will be claimed by Obama from his election in 2008 and House Republicans from this month’s midterm congressional elections.

Those surveyed are divided about how much change they want.

Fifty percent say the greater risk is that House Republicans will go too far in trying to reverse laws enacted by the Democratic majority over the past two years; 43% say the risk is they won’t go far enough.

House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio has vowed that one of the first actions by the new House will be to “repeal and replace” the health care law — Obama’s signature achievement — that was pushed through Congress by Democrats.

Expectations are tempered that the new Republican majority will make the country better off. Slightly more Americans say the change in power won’t make any difference (39%) than say it will improve the nation’s situation (37%). One in five (22%) predict it will make things worse.

That’s less optimism than the last time Republicans won control of the House, in 1994. Then, 43% predicted the country would be better off.

The poll of 1,037 adults, taken by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of +/—4 percentage points.

When it comes to the lame-duck session of Congress, Americans want action on taxes.

Half say it’s very important to continue the Bush-era tax cuts, though there is a division on whether the lower rates should be extended for the wealthy. Forty percent say they should be extended for everyone; 44% support limits for the affluent. Thirteen percent say all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire.

Those surveyed are inclined to say the extension should be temporary rather than permanent, 45%-37%.

To read more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2010-11-22-poll-usa-divided_N.htm

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