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69% Think It’s Better for Obama to Work With Congress Than Go Around It

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

President Obama made it clear in his State of the Union speech last night that he is prepared to take independent executive action if he can’t get Congress to work with him on some major issues, but voters strongly believe it’s better for the president to work with Congress than to go it alone. However, most also think it’s more important for Republicans in Congress to work with the president than to stand for what they believe.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, taken the night before and the night of the president’s speech, finds that 69% of Likely U.S. Voters think it it better for the president to work with Congress on things he considers important. Just 27% believe it is better for the president to go around Congress if necessary to accomplish what he feels is important. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-three percent (53%) say it is more important for the Republican Party to work with the president, while 40% place more importance on the GOP standing for what it believes in. These attitudes are virtually unchanged from early November 2012 just after the president’s reelection.

But here’s the partisan rub. A plurality (49%) of Democrats thinks it’s better for the president to go around Congress if necessary, while 73% of Republicans believe it’s more important for their party to stand for what it believes in rather than to work with Obama.

Voters are almost evenly divided when asked whether the president or Congress more closely represents the will of the American people. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say the president; 40% say Congress, and 21% are not sure.

Not surprisingly, 71% of Democrats think the president most closely represents the will of the American people, while 66% of Republicans choose Congress instead. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 44% say Congress and 27% the president.

While some chafe at the partisan gridlock in Washington, most voters (55%) continue to think it is more important to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances than for government to operate efficiently. That’s down slightly from 60% in July of last year. Thirty-three percent (33%) now believe the efficient operation of the government is more important, up from 28%. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 27-28, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters said they were likely to watch or follow news reports about the president’s State of the Union address, but 62% think the speech is more for show than for setting a national agenda.

While the president proposed several federal initiatives for what he sees as a growing national income inequality problem, 59% think less government involvement in the economy will do more to close the income gap than more government action.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Democrats believe it is more important for government to operate efficiently. Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans and 66% of unaffiliated voters place more importance on preserving our constitutional system of checks and balances.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of unaffiliateds think it is more important for the president to work with Congress than to go around it, but these voters are evenly divided when asked if the Republican Party should work with Obama or stand for what it believes.

Voters under 40 and government employees tend to think the president most closely represents the will of the American people. But older voters and those who work in the private sector believe Congress is closer to the people.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Tea Party voters feel Congress most closely represents the will of the people, but just 33% of those who are not part of that movement agree.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of Mainstream voters believe it is more important to maintain our constitutional checks and balances, but a plurality (45%) of the Political Class considers it more important to operate the government efficiently. Fifty-six percent (56%) of Political Class voters think the president most closely represents the will of the American people, a view shared by only 32% of those in the Mainstream.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of all voters say they have followed recent news reports about the president’s State of the Union speech at least somewhat closely, but that includes only 33% who have been following Very Closely. Democrats are a lot more interested than Republicans and unaffiliated voters are.

Just eight percent (8%) of voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Fifty-four percent (54%) say passing good legislation is a more important role for Congress than preventing bad legislation from becoming law. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and think stopping bad legislation is more important.

Only 21% now believe the federal government has the consent of the governed.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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