Nearly half in US don't care who controls Congress
Poll: Nearly half of Americans say it doesn't matter who controls Congress
Associated Press
2014-05-22 11:42 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly half of Americans appear indifferent about who controls Congress as midterm elections approach, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

With Republicans making a strong push to seize control of the Senate in November, just 53 percent of Americans say they care a good deal about which party wins. The other 46 percent, not so much.

The Republican Party is widely expected to keep control of the House of Representatives, where it has already successfully deployed its majority to block President Barack Obama's policies.

Ask people whom they would rather see in charge in Congress, and Republicans finish in a dead heat with "doesn't matter." Democrats fare only a little better: 37 percent would prefer their leadership, compared with 31 percent each for the Republicans and whatever.

But parts of the poll bode well for the Republicans.

Republicans are significantly more likely than either Democrats or independents to value control of Congress. And their base is more excited, too: Conservative Republicans are more concerned about party control than liberal Democrats are.

And most people -- 56 percent -- disapprove of the way Obama is doing his job.

Nationally, Democrats have gained a modest edge since the previous AP-GfK poll in March, but it's not because people like them more. Support for Democratic leadership stayed essentially unchanged in the new poll, while Republicans lost some ground to the idea that it makes no difference who wins this November.

History suggests most people won't go to the polls to decide who runs Congress during the last two years of a presidency marked by remarkably bitter standoffs between the two political parties. Midterm elections usually draw about 40 percent of eligible voters.

A vast majority appear united around one thing: They're fed up. Nearly 9 out of 10 disapprove of Congress. Two-thirds want their current representative voted out, the AP-GfK poll shows.

But most incumbents won't face a serious threat for re-election. A handful of hot races are likely to determine whether Republicans take the Senate away from Obama's party. The Republicans need six seats to win control of the Senate.

Because contests for the House and Senate are fought district by district and state by state, and only a third of Senate seats are involved in this year's election, nationwide polls are of limited utility in predicting who will take the legislative majorities.

Overall, those who care a good deal about party control are evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans. More than 8 in 10 of these people say they always or nearly always vote.

People who say it doesn't matter so much are nearly twice as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, and they skew younger. Their indifference to the national stakes doesn't necessarily mean they will all stay home on Election Day: 4 out of 10 say they usually go to the polls.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19 using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.


Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


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