Following the midterm election that some have termed a Republican wave, the majority of Americans want the Republicans in Congress — rather than President Barack Obama — to have more influence over the direction the country takes in the coming year. This is a switch from early 2012 when a slim plurality, 46%, wanted Obama to prevail in steering the nation.
Republicans’ 17-percentage-point edge over Obama on this measure exceeds what they earned after the 2010 midterm, when Americans favored Republicans by an eight-point margin (49% to 41%). It also eclipses the nine-point advantage Republicans had over Bill Clinton following the 1994 midterm in which Republicans captured the majority of both houses.
Republicans’ current edge, however, is still bested by Democrats’ 30-point lead over George W. Bush (61% to 31%) following the 2006 midterm election. Democrats regained majority control of both houses that year.
The similarity across all three of these elections is that they resulted in the president’s opposing party acquiring majority control of one, if not two, chambers of Congress. By contrast, a month after the 1998 midterm election in which the Republican majority survived — but only barely, given a decline in their House seat margin — Americans favored Clinton over the Republicans in Congress for leading the nation by a hefty 29-point margin.