Also in this poll:
Budget Deal Credit Goes To GOP (8/1/97)
Clinton, GOP Deserve Credit For Budget (7/28/97)
Clinton's approval remains high; crime tops public's agenda for Congress
By Keating Holland/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 28) -- As Congress goes back to work next week, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicates there is both good and bad news for the Republican leadership.
The good news is that a majority of the public believes that most members of Congress deserve re-election, and the number of Americans who approve of the way Congress is handling its job has jumped significantly since passage of the budget and tax bills just before the August recess. Six in 10 Americans favor that budget plan, and a majority give the GOP leaders in Congress credit for the achievement.
The bad news is that by a 49-41 percent margin, the public wants President Bill Clinton to have more influence than the Republicans in Congress over the direction the nation takes in the next year. By a 40-37 percent margin, Americans also think the country would be better off if the Democrats controlled Congress.
And if the midterm elections were held today, 50 percent of all adults would vote Democratic; only 40 percent would choose a Republican candidate.
Clinton's approval rating, at 60 percent, remains close to his all-time high and is just slightly higher than the figures posted by Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower in late August of the first year after they won re-election.
This survey of 1,014 adult Americans was conducted Aug. 22-25 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
Looking ahead to the 1998 congressional elections, the 50-40 Democratic-Republican results of the "generic ballot" question (that asks Americans which party's candidate they would vote for if congressional elections were held today) may appear to spell doom for the GOP.
But with so much time before the actual election, the more important number may be the question about whether most members of the U.S. House of Representatives deserve to be re-elected. From 1991 to the spring of 1996, Americans consistently answered "no" to that question. For example, in 1994, only 39 percent said that most members deserved to be re-elected, and the Democrats lost control of Congress. But last year, 55 percent favored re-electing most Representatives, and the GOP retained power on Capitol Hill.
Today, 56 percent favor re-electing most members of Congress. This new era of good feelings toward incumbents is a remarkable turnaround, and good news for the party in power, the GOP.
Continued: Crime, NATO and 'fast track' legislation
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