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Inside Politics

Poll: Big reforms by Democrats unlikely

Story Highlights

• 49 percent don't see big changes coming; 46 percent do
• Optimism is still higher than when Republicans took over in 1994
• 60 percent approve of Democrats' handling of transition
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans are somewhat pessimistic that Democrats, who assume control of Congress this week, would carry out "real" reforms, according to survey findings released Tuesday.

The 110th Congress will be sworn in Thursday.

The CNN poll, conducted last month by Opinion Research Corp., found 49 percent of the 1,019 respondents believe Democrats would carry out no significant reforms; 46 percent believe they would. (Watch how voters' attitudes have changed since 1994 Video)

Still, the 46 percent is an increase over a poll taken after Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1994 and pledged to follow their "Contract With America." At that time, only 37 percent of Americans expected reform to follow. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)

In the latest poll, six in 10 people approved of how the Democrats are handling the transition from Republican control. In 1994, just 50 percent approved of how House Speaker Newt Gingrich was handling the transition.

The latest poll also asked people to compare the new Congress to the GOP-controlled one of the past two years and rate it on whether it will be more corrupt or less corrupt; be more responsive to what the public wants or less responsive; and get more done or less done. (Poll graphic)

The responses:

  • Sixteen percent said they thought the new Congress would be more corrupt and 32 percent said it would be less corrupt; 49 percent said there would be no difference.
  • Fifty-one percent said the new Congress would be more responsive, and 11 percent said it would be less responsive; 37 percent thought there would be no difference.
  • Forty-six percent of respondents said the new Congress would get more done, and 14 percent said less would get done; 39 percent said there would be no difference.
  • The survey, which was taken December 15-17, had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    CNN polling director Keating Holland contributed to this report.


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