- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is one pessimistic country.

Most Americans harbor doubts that President Obama and resurgent Republicans can work together to solve the nation’s problems, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. In fact, many lack confidence that last week’s elections will change much of anything in Washington.

People are far more negative about the ultimate impact of the first big elections of Mr. Obama’s presidency - in which the Republicans made huge gains across the country - than they were about the results two years ago when voters elected the Democrat and padded his party’s House and Senate majorities.

Hope? It’s more like nope.


“I don’t think they’re going to reach any compromise at all on anything,” Dan Dore, a pilot from Freeland, Mich., said Wednesday. “They say, ‘Yah, we’re going to play nice,’ but when it comes time to get anything done, I just don’t believe it will happen. We hear the same rhetoric every two years, every four years, every six years.”

“I have faith in the system. I have very, very little faith in the people involved in the system,” regardless of political affiliation, added Mr. Dore, 42, an independent voter.

Just a week after the Republicans benefited from change-craving voters looking to punish the party in power, Americans are much less optimistic that Republicans in Congress will be able to implement the policies they promised than they were about Mr. Obama making good on his campaign promises in 2008. And only about half expect that the GOP’s policies will improve the economy.

The economy is still by far the largest issue facing the country, with the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent. And it tops the list of what both Mr. Obama and Republicans said they’ll focus on in the coming year.

Voters could punish everyone come 2012 - when Mr. Obama is up for re-election and when voters will render a verdict on Republican rule in the House - if they don’t see progress being made.

Both Mr. Obama and House Republican leader John A. Boehner, the presumed House speaker, have indicated a willingness to try to work together. But they also have suggested there are limits to how far each is willing to bend. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he’ll oppose Mr. Obama at every turn in an effort to derail the president’s re-election chances.

Is it any wonder Americans have little belief that all sides will come together?

Still, some are cautiously optimistic.

“Because of the economy the way it is, and because so many people are out of work, I’m hoping both parties put their best foot forward and can work together to get this resolved in a professional way without bickering,” said Mary Ammon of Cochranville, Pa., a 58-year-old receptionist who just lost her job after 20 years.

“It’s going to be hard,” she said. “Both parties are going to have to put aside their animosity for each other and take the interests of the people to heart because the United States is in bad shape.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Nov. 3-8 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and surveyed 1, 000 adults nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of 4.1 percentage points.