, NEW YORKNov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Which is better for the country – when Congress and the White House are both held by the same party or when there is a divided government, that is one party holds a majority in Congress and the other party holds the White House? For years political scientists have debated this question and there are many ways to analyze the outcomes of past divided governments.
More than two in five Americans (43%), however, believe that it is good for the country to have a president and a majority in Congress belonging to different parties, a number that is the same as when this question was asked in both 2006 and in 2008. One in five U.S. adults (21%) say it is a bad thing and over one-third (36%) are not sure if it is good or bad for the country.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,151 adults surveyed online between November 8 and 15, 2010 by Harris Interactive.
There are some partisan differences in attitudes towards divided government. Now that they are the majority in the House of Representatives, almost three in five Republicans (58%) say it is a good thing for the country to have a president and a majority in Congress belonging to different parties. Democrats, having lost their majority, are a little more divided on divided government – three in ten (30%) believe it is a good thing, over one-third (35%) believe it is a bad thing for the country and over one-third (35%) are not sure if it is a good or bad thing. Among Independents, almost half (49%) say a divided government is a good thing for the country, while 16% say it is a bad thing.
Reasons for Congressional votes
Looking back at the recent Congressional election, although he wasn't anywhere on the ballot, President Obama definitely was a presence as people cast their votes. Among adults who voted, three in ten (31%) say their vote was against President Obama and one-quarter (27%) say it was for President Obama while two in five (42%) say President Obama was not a factor in their voting decision.
As one might suspect, partisan leanings impact whether their vote was for or against the President. Over half of Democrats (54%) say their vote was for President Obama and almost two-thirds of Republicans (64%) say theirs was against President Obama. Among Independents, 14% say their vote was for President Obama and 33% say it was against the President. Three in ten Republicans (31%), over two in five Democrats (43%) and over half of Independents (53%) all say President Obama was not a factor in their vote.
Come January, President Obama and the Republicans in Congress have a rough time ahead of them. There are a lot of different items on the agenda and the American people want to see something done about the economy and unemployment. At the moment people are more likely to think divided government is a good thing rather than a bad thing for the country, but if nothing gets accomplished over the next few years they may change their minds. The question will then become, do we go back to a unified government by changing the White House or Congress?
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 8 to 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.
The Harris Poll ® #146, November 29, 2010
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
SOURCE Harris Interactive