AP-GfK poll: Most doubt political cooperation

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2014 3:17 AM
AP-GfK poll: Most doubt political cooperation

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's political leaders remain broadly unpopular, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll, and the public thinks they're incapable of cooperation.

Five key findings from the AP-GfK poll:

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BROAD DOUBTS ABOUT COOPERATION

Americans may not agree on much lately, but one opinion is nearly universal: There's almost no chance that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the Republicans in Congress can work together to solve the country's problems.

Just 13 percent of Americans are confident the leaders, separated by nearly 2 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue, can work together, while 86 percent have no such faith. That's far more than the 58 percent who felt they wouldn't be able to work together just after the 2010 midterm elections.

Robert Cole, 65, blames both parties for Washington's recent stalemate, but also sees a third culprit: "If you want to place the blame, it rests on the American voter."

"They're not doing their jobs, and we as the electorate are stupid in sending the same people back and expecting things to change," said Cole, a retiree who lives in Ocala, Florida.

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HOPE SINKS

November's midterm elections elicited more of a groan from the public than a cheer, according to the AP-GfK poll.

Just 37 percent say they're hopeful when they think about the results of the elections, well below the 65 percent saying so after the 2010 midterms, when the GOP took control of the House, or the 74 percent who felt so when Obama was elected the nation's first black president. Only 1 in 5 Americans under age 30 describe themselves as hopeful, fewer than any other age group.

People are more likely to feel down about the outcome than positive. Fifty-two percent say they're disappointed with the results while 50 percent say they're frustrated. Both figures are up significantly since 2010. About a quarter, 27 percent, say they're angry, compared with 16 percent in 2010.

Still, just 21 percent say they were surprised about the results.

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NOT-SO-GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Despite the pessimism about cooperation, the public still thinks leaders in Washington may be able to accomplish something in the next two years: blocking the other side.

A majority say Obama is likely to prevent Congress from repealing the health care law passed in 2010, while nearly half say the GOP is likely to block Obama's executive order on immigration.

The public is less likely to think either side will be able to enact the policies on their agenda. For example, only about 4 in 10 think it's likely Obama will be able to improve the economy between now and the end of his time in office, while a third think the Republicans will be able to do the same in the next two years.

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NEITHER SIDE GAINING ON PARTY TRUST

On four of the top issues facing the country, there's little consensus in the poll about which party to trust and little change since before the election.

On the economy and immigration, neither side has a clear advantage as the party more trusted to handle either issue. About 3 in 10 say they trust neither party.

More traditional partisan preferences prevail on health care and protecting the country. Democrats are more trusted to handle health care, 35 percent to 25 percent, while Republicans have the edge on protecting the country, 32 percent to 18 percent.

Among independents, 50 percent or more say they trust neither party on each of these four issues.

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IS GRIDLOCK THE PROBLEM?

Political gridlock itself ranks pretty low on the issue scale: 47 percent call it extremely or very important compared with 83 percent who say the economy is that important, 76 percent who consider health care a key issue and 64 percent who say unemployment is important.

But the issue prompts Obama's most negative ratings overall: 66 percent disapprove of his handling of gridlock, and among Democrats, 47 percent disapprove.

Neither party has a clear advantage as the side more likely to break the stalemate. Just 16 percent think the president is likely to restore public trust in government in the next two years, while 20 percent feel congressional Republicans will.

More Americans say they trust neither party to handle managing the federal government than said they trust either side over the other. Nearly a third of both Democrats and Republicans say they trust neither party to handle managing the federal government, along with almost 6 in 10 independents.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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

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On Twitter, follow Jennifer Agiesta at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta and Emily Swanson at http://www.twitter.com/el_swan .

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com