No clear leader between Obama, Republicans: poll

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WASHINGTON - Ahead of a crucial vote in Congress, a new Gallup poll suggests that Americans are not clear who should have more influence over the nation’s direction in the next year - President Barack Obama or the Republicans.

Forty-five percent want Obama to have more influence, while 42 percent prefer the Republicans. This marks a slight change from surveys conducted in August and early November of last year when Americans expressed a slight preference for the Republicans.

One of the first items on the agenda of the new Congress with opposition Republicans in control of the House will be a vote Wednesday on the proposed Republican legislation that would fully repeal Obama’s healthcare bill, Gallup noted.

After this highly visible effort to challenge one of Obama’s signature achievements in his first two years in office, the new Republican House leadership plans to introduce a number of additional measures designed to push against Obama’s policies of the last two years.

Naturally enough, Democrats and Republicans across the country have diametrically opposite views on who should have more influence over the direction of the country, the poll noted.

More than eight out of 10 Democrats want Obama to have more influence, while about the same percentage of Republicans want their leaders in Congress to have more influence. Independents are about evenly split, but tilt in the direction of the Republicans in Congress, the poll found.

Republicans are in a stronger political position as this new political year by virtue of their new control of the House and increased number of Republican seats in the Senate.

Still, taken as a whole, the American public is not playing favourites - with as many people wanting Obama to have more influence as those who want the Republicans in Congress to have more influence on the nation’s direction over the next year.

The divided control of government could lead to more debate and political rancour than actual accomplishment coming out of Washington this year, Gallup said.

If so, that may fly to a degree in the face of Americans’ preferences about how government should work, it said.

Despite their split preferences on whom they want to have the greatest influence over the course of the nation, Americans generally prefer that their elected representatives attempt to compromise rather than sticking to their core beliefs and thus preventing things from getting done.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

Filed under: Politics

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