Exclusive Poll: Fans of Congressional Gridlock Cheer the Election's Outcome

New ABC News/Yahoo! News poll

November 22, 2010, 9:24 AM

Nov. 23, 2010 -- As many Republicans favor political gridlock as oppose it, complicating the lives of leaders of the victorious party in this month's congressional elections.

While the phrase customarily is taken as a negative, this ABC News/Yahoo! News poll finds that Republican registered voters in fact divide evenly, 42-43 percent, on whether gridlock is a bad thing because it prevents good legislation from being passed -- or a good thing, because it blocks bad laws.

The split underscores many Republicans' skepticism of active government. But it may make it difficult for GOP leaders to push their own legislative agenda. And it raises questions about the durability of the party's appeal to independent registered voters, who favored Republicans by a record margin Nov. 2, but who see gridlock as a negative by a 2-1 margin, 57-28 percent.

Democratic registered voters even more broadly see gridlock as a negative, and among all registered voters combined it's viewed negatively by 56-31 percent, again nearly 2-1.

Whatever they think of it, most believe it's coming: This poll, produced for ABC and Yahoo! News by Langer Research Associates, finds that 81 percent of Americans overall think gridlock is "likely" to occur in the next Congress. Just over than a third say it's "very likely."

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JOY -- Beyond Republicans, the November election has brought particular joy to gridlock fans. Among Americans who see gridlock as a good thing, 55 percent think the results of the election will move the country in the right direction. Among critics of gridlock, that dives to 22 percent.

The election outcome -- with major gains for the GOP in the House -- gets more positive than negative marks overall, albeit with a healthy degree of skepticism. Thirty-four percent of adults (especially Republicans, as well as gridlock fans) think the results will move the country in the right direction. Twenty-one percent think it will head the nation the wrong way.

Gridlock in Government: Poll Finds Republicans Split

But 40 percent, a plurality, don't think the outcome of the election will make a difference in the country's direction at all. That view is especially prevalent among independents, customarily a politically skeptical group. They see the election results as a positive by 30-14 percent, but 51 percent of independents don't think it'll make much difference.

GROUPS -- Beyond partisan preferences, there are differences among other groups on these issues. Among seniors, another group that voted for Republicans for the House by a broad margin, 52 percent think the outcome is likely to move the country in the right direction; vs. just 16 percent wrong direction. Young adults, under 30, are much less apt to think the election results will help the country's direction (21 percent say so); more instead think it won't make a difference.

Income's a differentiator, too; Americans with household incomes of $50,000 year or more are more likely than their less well-off counterparts, by a 16-point margin, to think the election will move the country in the right direction. In exit poll results, better-off Americans were 12 points more apt than those with incomes below $50,000 to vote Republican.

METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Yahoo News! poll was conducted Nov. 10-16, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,048 adults. Respondents were selected using an address-based sample design. Households for which a phone number could be ascertained were contacted by phone; others were contacted by mail and asked to complete the survey via a toll-free inbound phone number or the internet. See details here. Results for the full sample have a 4-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error.

This survey was produced by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS of Media, Pa.

ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollingunit

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