Poll: High Hopes For New Congress

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Americans are generally optimistic about the new Democratic-controlled Congress that convened on Thursday, according to a CBS News poll. But half the public doubts that President Bush and the Democrats will be able to work together to get things done — including dealing with the situation in Iraq.

Sixty-eight percent of those polled said they had optimistic feelings about the 110th Congress, which will be led by Democrats for the first time in 12 years. Just 25 percent said they were pessimistic.

Nearly half expect that this Congress will accomplish more than usual over the next two years.

FEELINGS ABOUT NEW CONGRESS

Optimistic
68%
Pessimistic
25%


But when asked if Democrats and President Bush can cooperate — in general and on Iraq, which is overwhelmingly Americans' top priority — half those polled were doubtful.

Read the complete CBS News poll results.
Fifty-one percent said the White House and Congress will not be able to work together on Iraq, while 41 percent said they will.

WILL PRESIDENT BUSH AND THE DEMOCRATS WORK TOGETHER ON IRAQ?

Yes
41%
No
51%

Iraq was far and way the No. 1 issue Americans want the new Congress to address, easily outpacing other concerns like the economy/jobs, health care and immigration.

More than 70 percent expect Democrats in Congress will try to start bringing at least some U.S. troops home from Iraq — something a majority of Americans hope will happen.

WANT NEW CONGRESS TO CONCENTRATE ON:

War in Iraq
45%
Economy/jobs
7%
Health care
7%
Immigration
6%

Still, there is little confidence that either the Democrats or President Bush have a clear plan for Iraq. Less than one in 10 say the Democrats have a plan, while just one in five say Mr. Bush has one.

Starting off 2007, Mr. Bush's overall approval rating remains low at just 30 percent, his worst number ever in a CBS News poll, while his approval rating for handling Iraq is even lower at 23 percent — even after the execution of Saddam Hussein.

DO DEMOCRATS HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR IRAQ?

Yes
8%
No
82%


DOES PRESIDENT BUSH HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR IRAQ?

Yes
20%
No
76%

Americans don't think the execution of the former Iraqi president will improve the situation in Iraq. In fact, 40 percent believe Saddam's execution will make things worse and result in more attacks on U.S. troops. Just 5 percent think it will lead to fewer attacks against U.S. troops.

Mr. Bush did get a bump from last month in his handling of the economy, with 41 percent now saying they approve of the job he's doing — his highest rating on this measure since July 2005. Six in 10 Americans now rate the economy as being in good shape.

BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL RATING

Approve
30%
Disapprove
63%


BUSH'S JOB HANDLING IRAQ

Approve
23%
Disapprove
72%


Turning to how the new Congress will handle domestic issues, the poll found two-thirds of Americans expect a raise in the minimum wage, while 39 percent expect a tax increase.

Americans were split, 42 percent to 42 percent, on whether immigration reform would be passed.

The poll also found Americans have positive feelings about former President Gerald R. Ford, who passed away on Dec. 26. Sixty-nine percent approved of the way Ford handled his job as president, while just 4 percent disapproved.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 993 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone January 1-3, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

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