If you aren’t happy with how things are going in Congress you’re not alone. The most recent Gallup Survey, which asked respondents whether they “approve or disapprove with how Congress is handling its job,” shows that nine out of ten Americans are not happy.
It’s the lowest approval rating Congress has received in Gallup’s 38 years of performing the survey.
Congress approval was 30% in Gallup’s first measure using this question wording in April 1974, and has averaged 34% across the more than 230 times it has been measured since.
Before 2007, Congress approval had been below 20% only twice — in 1979 and 1992. The highest congressional job approval in Gallup’s history was 84% in October 2001, a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Congressional approval is down among all political groups and is now virtually the same across these groups — with Democrats at 9%, independents at 11%, and Republicans at 10%. Democrats’ approval declined the most, from 18% in July.
Although Americans have generally been more negative than positive in their assessments of Congress over the past four decades, opinions have been especially negative in recent years — and approval has again in August fallen to the record-low reading of 10%, last measured in February. Americans’ views of Congress are so bad that it has now been more than a year since Gallup’s monthly assessment was as high as 20%.
It is difficult to pinpoint precise causes for these extraordinarily negative views, although the continuing poor economy is certainly a major factor. The fact that control of Congress is now divided, with a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, may provide an opportunity for Americans of all political persuasions to dislike some aspect of Congress. With Congress divided, however, it is difficult to assess what impact its low ratings will have on the November elections, now less than three months away.
Why should we be?
During the convening of the 112th Congress, which first met in January of 2011, our country has seen a drastic decline in the quality of life, with Americans having lost 40% of their wealth, their homes and their jobs. Some 100 million Americans are now receiving some form of distribution from an already overburdened government safety net. Not mention that we have continued to see our individual liberties eroded by the passage of scores of thousand-page long legislative actions that benefit the elite members of society, while the government on the local and federal level has continued to apply the pressure of the police state boot to the throats of the people.
That even one in ten Americans still approve of what Congress (and the Executive branch) has done in the last couple of years is a surprise.
Obviously, what we have here is an issue where democrats, republicans, and those currently without party can agree: Washington D.C. is a mess.
What will be most interesting (but not at all surprising) to see in November is how the majority of these 90% of disenchanted Americans return to the polls only to re-elect exactly the same people to represent them as before.