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Just 63% Know Which Parties Control the House and Senate

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Over one-third of Likely U.S. Voters remain unaware which political party controls the House of Representatives and which has a majority in the Senate - less than two months before an election that may put one party in charge of both.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 63% are aware that Republicans have majority control of the House. An identical number (63%) know that Democrats run the Senate.

Twenty percent (20%) mistakenly believe Democrats control the House, while 17% are not sure. Similarly, 18% think the GOP is in charge in the Senate, but 19% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is even less awareness than voters expressed in March of last year. Remember, too, that these are respondents who are the likeliest to vote this November and so presumably are more politically aware than most other Americans.

Women and those under 40 are less aware of who’s in charge of both congressional chambers than men and older voters are. Republicans are more aware than Democrats and unaffiliated voters, but a sizable number of GOP voters don’t know which party controls which house of Congress.

Even though not a single Republican member of either the House or Senate voted for the new national health care law, 31% of likely voters say they are not sure how their representative in Congress voted on Obamacare, an issue at the forefront of this election cycle.

Ninety percent (90%) believe voters in countries with democratically elected governments have a responsibility to be informed about major policy issues, but just nine percent (9%) think most Americans are informed voters.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 9-10, 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.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters think it is better for the country when one political party controls both the House and Senate. Forty-four percent (44%) disagree and say it’s better when a different party is in charge of each chamber. That’s up slightly from 39% in December. Twenty-three percent (23%) are undecided.

Fifty-four percent (54%) believe it is at least somewhat likely that the GOP will win a majority in the Senate this November, giving them control of the entire Congress, but that includes only 20% who say it’s Very Likely.

Just six percent (6%) think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, while 65% rate its performance as poor.  The number giving Congress good or excellent marks has been in single digits most months since April 2011.

Basically unchanged from December are the 16% of voters who think the House is doing a good or excellent job and the 13% who say the same of the Senate. Fifty-five percent (55%) believe the House is doing a poor job, while just as many (54%) rate the Senate’s performance as poor.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of both Democrats and voters not affiliated with either of the major parties feel the GOP-controlled House is doing a poor job, but just 46% of Republicans agree. Only 38% of Democrats believe the Democratic-run Senate is performing poorly, but that compares to 64% of Republicans and 61% of unafifliateds.

Republicans are almost evenly divided over whether it’s better to have one party in charge of the entire Congress or have each chamber controlled by a different party. Democrats and unaffiliated voters tend to think divided control is better.

Most Republican voters think their representatives in Congress have lost touch with the party’s base over the last several years, while most Democrats believe their Congress members have done a good job representing what their party stands for.

Voters who are aware which party controls which congressional chamber are more critical of the job they’re doing than those who don’t know who’s in charge.

Among all voters nationwide, only 25% think their own member of Congress deserves reelection, the lowest finding in nearly five years.

Twenty percent (20%) say they don't know enough about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to offer any opinion of him, and 27% say the same of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.  Both men have been senators since the mid-1980s and have led their respective parties in the Senate for over seven years. House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, are both well known and highly disliked.

The two political parties have been separated by two points or less for most weeks this year on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

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

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