Immigration and healthcare reform top the list of things for Congress to do

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe their side “won” the midterms, and in the days following the election, they also have been happier about the outcome. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll want Congress to do now, Democrats are interested in movement on health care and gun control, as well as Congressional oversight and the possible impeachment of President Trump.

When it comes to what they think the main focus of Congress should be in the next two years, Republicans overwhelmingly say they want immigration reform (and immigration was the dominant issue for Republicans when it came to last week’s vote). One in three Democrats are looking for Congress to exercise its oversight function through investigation or want it to move ahead directly to impeachment. Older Democrats are especially interested in oversight (27%) and impeachment (16%). But overall far more are looking for some policy achievement. While healthcare reform is seen as important by all types of Democrats, gun control is mentioned particularly by black Democrats and by those under the age of 45.

Of course, immigration has motivated Republicans voters throughout the fall. It still does. A majority of Republicans continue to see the “caravan” of Central Americans headed to the US-Mexican border as an “immediate and serious” threat, far more than the percentages of Democrats (7%) or independents (21%) who say this. 87% of Republicans support sending US troops to the border, something supported by only half that percentage of Americans overall.

Entitlements, like Social Security and Medicare, are popular with both parties, with about two–thirds of both Republicans and Democrats wanting to increase government spending on each. But even more Republicans would increase spending on the military and on the President’s promised border wall. Democrats and independents would decrease spending on the border wall, and their attitudes towards military spending are divided. 

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to expect the new Congress will get more done than the current Congress. A third of Democrats say the new Congress will accomplish more than the last one; 42% of Republicans say it will accomplish less (independents are the most likely to expect no change). 

The GOP negative opinions may flow in part from their general surprise at the election outcome: by nearly two to one, Republicans expected their party would retain control of the House of Representatives. In contrast, about as many Democrats believed Republicans would keep control of the Senate as expected Democrats to take control.

So that leaves Democrats mostly happy about the vote results, while Republicans have very mixed feelings.

Donald Trump tweeted on election night about the Republicans’ “tremendous success.” While Republicans may or may not agree with that particular assessment, nearly half of them believe, as the President does, that Republicans “won” last week’s contest. Democrats overwhelmingly see their party as the victor, despite its losses in key Senate races. 70% of Democrats say their party won. As might be expected, partisans are happy when about the results in the chamber their party won. 

Democrats seem more content than not with restoring Nancy Pelosi to the House Speakership: more support her return to that position than oppose it. But the margin isn’t huge, with just as many saying they don’t know or don’t care what happens as say they’d like Pelosi to be Speaker.

Both liberal and moderate Democrats support Pelosi. But those Democrats who supported Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries would prefer some other Democrat to be elected Speaker, by 40% to 30%.

See full toplines and tables results

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