Americans have always showed a preference for Congress to take the helm in setting the country's agenda -- perhaps distrustful that one man in the White House should be in charge. But by the widest margin of President Obama's tenure, Americans believe that the nation's representatives and senators should be in charge, not him. That's a big finding in the new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Wednesday night.
It may not be a surprising finding since voters just issued a tough verdict on Obama in this month's mid-term elections. Still, it bad news for the president and good news for Republicans, who will be in fully in charge of Congress come January. A Gallup poll right after Election Day found similar numbers, with Americans saying they prefer the Republicans to have more influence over the nation's direction year by a 53 to 36 percent margin.
Obama seems not to be taking his lead from public opinion on this, however. He is pressing forward with his agenda, including preparing to issue an executive order granting a temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. But should polling stay where it is, it could weaken his hand come next year, as he unveils an agenda for his final two years.
In new research, political scientists examined whether the State of the Union Address actually influenced Congress' priorities. They found that under several circumstances, it did--for a short time.
Except for Obama, it may not. The study found that two of the key factors affected lawmaking was whether the same party controlled Congress and the president's approval rating.
We know Republicans will control Congress next year, but it turns out a popular president could overwhelm divided government. Unfortunately for Obama, the new NBC News-WSJ poll doesn't have good news on that account for him.