Most Americans can't name which parties control the House and Senate

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There’s an election in November, but most Americans may not know what’s at stake when it comes to the results.

Fewer than four in 10 Americans (36 percent) can name which party controls the House and the Senate, according to a new Gallup poll. Registered voters don't fare much better—only 41 percent correctly said that Democrats hold the majority in the Senate and Republicans control the House.


About half of Americans can name the majority party in each chamber; 49 percent say that the Senate is in Democrats' hands and 51 percent say Republicans have a majority the House.

There's no difference in the percentage of self-identified Republicans and Democrats (38 percent) who can identify which party controls each chamber of Congress.

This November's midterm election could change the makeup of Congress. Republicans have a 54.8 percent chance of winning a majority in the upper chamber, according to FiveThirtyEight's forecast model. The House is not projected to change hands. If Republicans take control of both houses of Congress, President Obama could face even more pushback against his agenda during his final two years in office.


Only four in 10 Americans, however, say they care a "great deal" about which party controls Congress. Among Americans who can name the party that controls each chamber, 55 percent say they care.

As Gallup notes, the poll is indicative of how a smaller set of politically engaged voters could determine the balance of power in Congress. Outside groups have spent almost a quarter billion dollars to convince voters to support their preferred candidates, the most ever in a midterm election, PBS NewsHour reported Monday.


The majority of the country has consistently shown it is paying less attention to what’s happening in Washington. An Annenberg Public Policy Center survey released last week showed less than 40 percent of adults could correctly name which party controlled each house of Congress.

Only 36 percent could name all three branches of government, and nearly the same percentage (35 percent) could not name a single one.


Perhaps Congress' actions—or lack thereof—have played a role in the public tuning out. Last October, amid the government shutdown, a Public Policy Polling survey found that witches, the IRS and hemorrhoids were all more popular than Congress among registered voters.

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Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.

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