Political Animal


January 08, 2013 1:19 PM Congress and Cockroaches

By Ed Kilgore

Think the “fiscal cliff” shenanigans and the upcoming debt limit fiasco have damaged the already battered reputation of Congress? If so, looks like you are right. PPP has a new survey out showing Congress’ favorability rating is down to single digits: a booming 9%, with 85% registering negative impressions.

Being playful folk (particularly for pollsters), the PPP staff decided to offer respondents a choice of preferances between Congress and various and sundry other highly unsavory people and things—and the lawmakers didn’t do very well:

It’s gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can’t: Lice 67 Congress 19
Brussel sprouts may have been disgusting as a kid, but evidently they’re now a lot less disgusting than Congress: Brussel Sprouts 69 Congress 23
The NFL replacement refs may have screwed everything up, but voters think Congress is screwing everything up even worse: Replacement Refs 56 Congressmen 29 (the breakdown among Packers fans might be a little bit different).
Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren’t seeing in Congress: Colonoscopies 58 Congress 31
And you can make the same point about root canals: Root Canals 56 Congress 32

It goes on and on, with used car salesmen, traffic jams, France, carnies, Nickelback, Genghis Khan, DC pundits, Donald Trump, and yes, cockroaches all beating Congress in public approbation. But there’s a slim silver lining:

The news isn’t all bad for Congress:
By relatively close margins it beats out Lindsey Lohan (45/41), playground bullies (43/38), and telemarketers (45/35). And it posts wider margins over the Kardashians (49/36), John Edwards (45/29), lobbyists (48/30), Fidel Castro (54/32), Gonorrhea (53/28), Ebola (53/25), Communism (57/23), North Korea (61/26), and meth labs (60/21).

So Congress hasn’t quite hit bottom just yet.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • David in NY on January 08, 2013 1:30 PM:

    Look, things can't be all bad. A quarter of the people preferred Communism to the Congress.

  • c u n d gulag on January 08, 2013 1:34 PM:

    Give 'em time, Ed.
    Give 'em time.

    After all, this Congress was just sworn in last week.

    Only 103 more weeks until another one gets a chance.

    That's if this country's still a country by then.

  • the seal on January 08, 2013 1:41 PM:

    If they manage to crash the economy once again with the debt ceiling, meth labs and North Korea will probably look pretty good.

  • schtick on January 08, 2013 2:00 PM:

    I wonder what numbers they would get if they added a minus to the survey. I bet they would get double digits again.

  • Peter C on January 08, 2013 2:21 PM:

    I want my Nickleback ... said the i-tunes customer.

  • dig deeper on January 08, 2013 2:38 PM:

    As entertaining as this may be, in its way, it is also reminiscent of the deceptive claims by conservatives that a majority of Americans disapproved of the Affordable Care Act.

    The missing caveat in that particular case being: a sizable portion of said disapproval stemmed from concern that the ACA did not go far enough.

    Likewise, is the discontent with Congress as a whole, or would meaningful distinctions become apparent if the polsters asked more intelligent questions?

  • T2 on January 08, 2013 3:22 PM:

    using the term "Congress" to encapsulate every House and Senate member into a group that can then be surveyed is ridiculous. It is the House Republicans that are responsible for 95% of the things "Congress" does that infuriate sane people. But I guess it wouldn't be "balanced" for the Media to produce polls saying House Reps 10% approval, House Dems 53% approval.

  • boatboy_srq on January 08, 2013 4:45 PM:

    Typical BSDI poll: there's one Congress, and it's stymied and cannot act, so because there are two parties in Congress they both get tarred with the Worst Congress Ever brush.

    No mention whatsoever that Congressional inaction is due to one party's falling off the batsh#t-crazy edge. None. Because it can't possibly be the fault of just one side.

    Maybe if these pollsters started asking what exactly the problem is, then we'd start seeing some useful information.