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Poll: Americans want a more moderate GOP agenda

By Keating Holland/CNN

WASHINGTON (November 17) -- What do Americans want from the next leaders of the Republican Party in Congress? What do Republican voters want from their party's new leaders? The answers are not always the same.

With the election for the next speaker of the House and other GOP leaders set for Wednesday, most Americans say they want the new Republican leadership to promote policies that are more moderate than the current GOP agenda, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

But Republicans who were interviewed for the poll say they want their party's new leaders to pursue more conservative policies. Republicans and the rest of the public agree they want GOP leaders who will be more likely to compromise with Clinton and the Democrats than House Speaker Newt Gingrich was, although Republican who were surveyed were less in favor of compromise than other Americans.

All Americans, regardless of their party, believe that Gingrich's resignation was a good thing for the country.

The survey included interviews with 1,039 adult Americans November 13-15, and has a margin of sampling error ranging from +/- 3 percentage points for the entire sample to +/- 5.5 percentage points for questions asked of a smaller subsample.

Here are the questions and results:

Do you think the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate should promote policies that are more conservative or more moderate than the ones they promote now?
All Americans Republicans
More moderate
More conservative
65%
36%
44%
50%
Sampling error: +/-5.5% pts

Still thinking about this matter, would you like to see the Republicans in Congress elect leaders who will be more likely or less likely than Newt Gingrich was to compromise with Clinton and the Democrats?
All Americans Republicans
More likely to compromise
Less likely to compromise
65%
27%
49%
44%
Sampling error: +/-5.5% pts

All in all, do you think it is good or bad for the country that House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decided to step down and resign from Congress?
All Americans Republicans
Good for country
Bad for country
67%
21%
64%
27%
Sampling error: +/-5.5% pts

In the wake of the Democrats' historic five-seat gain in the House of Representatives on November 3, the Democrats are now riding as high as the GOP was after their own historic midterm victories in 1994. After the 1994 election, 70 percent of the public had a favorable view of the GOP and only 55 percent thought favorably of the Democrats. Now those numbers are almost completely reversed, with the Democrats holding an 11-point lead over the GOP.

One reason is that the number of Americans who think the policies proposed by congressional GOP leaders would move the country in the right direction has dropped from 55 percent in 1994 to just 43 percent today. Another problem for the GOP is that most Americans say that the Republicans in Congress are too partisan and unwilling to compromise; they don't feel that way about the Democrats in Congress. The public is also more likely to say that the GOP favors the rich and is too extreme.

Here are the questions and results:

I'd like you to rate the political parties on a scale. If you have a favorable opinion of the party, name a number between plus 1 and plus five, the higher the number the more favorable your opinion. If you have an unfavorable opinion of the party, name a number between minus one and minus five, the higher the number the more unfavorable your opinion. On that scale, how would you rate the Republicans? How would you rate the Democrats?
Favorable opinion of...
Now 1994
Republicans
Democrats
57%
68%
70%
55%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Do you think the policies being proposed by the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or in the wrong direction?
Now 1994
Right direction
Wrong direction
43%
40%
55%
27%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

In general, do you think the Democrats in Congress are too partisan and unwilling to compromise, or would you not describe them that way? How about the Republicans in Congress?
Too Partisan and Unwilling to Compromise?
Yes No
Republicans
Democrats
56%
40%
40%
56%
Asked of all Americans
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Do you think the political views of the Republicans in Congress are too extreme or not too extreme? And what about the political views of the Democratic Party?

In general, do you think the Republicans in Congress are too partisan and unwilling to compromise, or would you not describe them that way? How about the Democrats in Congress?

Thinking in general, do you think the Democratic Party generally favors the rich, favors the middle class or favors the poor? How about the Republican Party?
Descriptions of Parties
Republicans Democrats
Favors the rich
Too partisan
Too extreme
67%
56%
47%
20%
40%
32%
Asked of all Americans
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

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