An unusually active lame duck session enabled the 113th Congress to avoid its predecessor's record for legislative unproductivity.
The public is deeply pessimistic about the prospects for healing the nation’s political divisions. And most Americans think continued partisan gridlock would wreak significant damage on the country.
Lame duck congressional sessions have become more common in recent years, but their actual legislative productivity has varied considerably.
The public has mixed reactions to the GOP’s big midterm win: 48% say they are happy about the election outcome and as many approve as disapprove of Republican plans for the future. In addition, the public is divided over whether Obama or GOP leaders should take the lead solving problems.
If history is any guide, well under half of eligible voters will come out to vote in Tuesday's midterms.
Most eligible voters -- typically 8-in-ten or more -- live in House districts with little or no real competition between candidates and parties.
The GOP has the advantage over Democrats on the economy, terrorism and the budget deficit. But Democrats are widely seen as more empathetic and willing to work with those across the aisle.
The current Congress remains on pace to be one of the least legislatively productive in recent history.
Older Republicans are especially critical of how the GOP has handled illegal immigration. Many Hispanic Democrats fault their party for being unwilling to allow legal status for people in the U.S. illegally.
Heading into the final weeks before the midterm elections, Republican and Democratic voters are split not only over their candidate preferences, but also about the importance of key issues in the election.