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[Politics] Americans have low expectations for the next Congress, new poll finds

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Most Americans don’t expect Washington to accomplish much in the next two years, a new poll finds. At the same time, another new survey finds a broad public consensus in support of some congressional actions – particularly to lower the costs of prescription drugs.

A 65% majority of US adults say they think President Joe Biden will be unsuccessful in getting his programs passed into law over the next two years, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday, with 61% saying they expect Republican leaders in Congress to be similarly unsuccessful. Republicans won control of the US House in the recent midterm elections, while Democrats retained their narrow majority in the US Senate. Americans had similarly low expectations following the 2018 midterms, which also resulted in divided government – 63% expected President Donald Trump to be unsuccessful in seeing his proposals enacted, the same survey found four years ago, with 61% saying the same of Democratic congressional leaders.

Just 8% of Americans in the latest Pew poll say they expect relations between Republicans and Democrats to improve in the coming year, similar to surveys conducted following the previous two midterm elections.

About half (48%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents expect Biden to be successful over the next two years, Pew found, with 44% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying they expect GOP leaders in Congress to get their programs passed into law.

The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, on November 28, 2022.

And while most partisans remain optimistic about the future of their parties overall, a significant minority in each party take a dimmer view. One-third of Republicans and Republican leaners say they’re pessimistic about the future of the Republican Party, higher than following the 2020 election, when 25% felt that way, and also higher than the shares expressing pessimism following the 2016 and 2018 elections. Across the aisle, 28% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they’re pessimistic about their party’s future – higher than in 2018 and 2020, but lower than the 38% who said the same following Trump’s victory in 2016.

Americans have reasons to suspect Washington could face gridlock in the coming months. In addition to divided government, both Democrats’ control of the Senate and the Republican majority in the House rest on narrow margins, and the parties are already clashing on spending. House Republicans have also pledged to launch multiple investigations into the Biden administration.

By contrast, there’s broad public consensus in favor of some congressional action, according to a Marquette University Law School poll also released Thursday, which gauged public support for a number of policy proposals “drawn from recent Republican and Democratic congressional policy statements.” A near-universal 92% of US adults – including broad majorities in both parties – say they’d favor Congress taking action to “limit the cost of prescription drugs,” with 84% saying they’d like to see Congress “pass a new voting rights law to protect every citizen’s right to vote.


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