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August 02, 2011 11:25 AM Congress’ 14% approval rating

By Steve Benen

The new CNN poll was conducted yesterday, the day after the debt-ceiling agreement was announced. Did congressional Republicans come out of the process with a policy win? Yes. Did they come with an improved public standing? Not so much.

For example, take Congress’ approval rating.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

Approve: 14%
Disapprove: 84%

Poking around the internals (pdf) of the poll, there’s a chart showing Congressional approval ratings from previous CNN, Gallup, and USA Today polls, going back more than 30 years. I don’t see any point in which Congress’ approval rating was even close to 14%.

This Congress isn’t just unpopular, it’s breaking new ground in levels of unpopularity.

Now, I suspect some on the right might suggest Congress is widely hated, but there’s no reason to assume that’s a reflection on Republicans or their agenda. It’s a fair point. Democrats are ostensibly in the majority in the Senate, after all.

But the GOP probably shouldn’t push this spin too hard. For example, while President Obama isn’t exactly soaring with a 45% approval rating, his level of public support is currently more than triple that of Congress.

There was also this question:

Next, please tell me whether you approve or disapprove of the way each of the following has handled the negotiations over the debt ceiling in Washington over the past few days.

President Obama
Approve 46%, Disapprove 53%

Congressional Democrats
Approve 35%, Disapprove 63%

Congressional Republicans
Approve 30%, Disapprove 68%

No one’s popular, but the GOP is feeling the brunt of the public backlash.

As for the debt agreement itself, public attitudes are all over the place. On the one hand, most respondents in the CNN poll disapprove of the deal and don’t like the fact that it includes no new revenues. On the other hand, most also believe the deal will help the economy, and believe neither Republicans nor President Obama made too many concessions.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • stormskies on August 02, 2011 11:32 AM:

    CNN, and all other corporate media, should show the poll results about how Americans feel about them. They have a lower approval rating than Congress itself. But, of course, they will never show these results. Of course.

  • c u n d gulag on August 02, 2011 11:33 AM:

    Jeez, I suspect if you took a poll, genital herpes would be more popular than Congess.

    With AIDS only a few percentage point behind.

    There!
    That gives you Republicans something to shoot for.

  • Fred on August 02, 2011 11:36 AM:

    Does that matter if those polls are in no way predictive of the 2012 election results?

  • Johnny Canuck on August 02, 2011 11:37 AM:

    As with Obamacare, it would be interesting to see how many of those who disapprove of Obama on this issue, do so because he surrendered to terrorists, versus those who think he was too much of a Balanced Budget Amendment blocking Kenyan socialist.

    "On the other hand, most also believe the deal will help the economy, and believe neither Republicans nor President Obama made too many concessions."
    As with the too small stimulus, Obama pretending that he got a good deal makes it harder for him to complain when the economy continues to contract, unhelped by this deal.

  • Trollop on August 02, 2011 11:43 AM:

    ..and everything worked out all wrong, as predicted. Obama, as usual, won't even make a good scapegoat.

    Epic..

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 11:45 AM:

    The GOP does not care if they are unpopular. Many are in safe districts. The only election they are scared of is the primary. BTW, the Norah O'Donnell controversy was created to sent a message to her to bend over backwards to say both sides and not get too aggressive.

  • Danp on August 02, 2011 11:46 AM:

    Another worthless poll that, if you read the internals, proves nothing more than a) People who answer polls are long on opinion, short on information. b) well.OK, that's about it.

  • tamiasmin on August 02, 2011 11:49 AM:

    That last paragraph says it all about the American public: disapproves of the deal, but thinks it will help the economy and neither side conceded too much.

    USA! # 1 in cognitive dissonance.

  • Mitch on August 02, 2011 11:52 AM:

    @Danp

    Well said.

    Not only do these polls prove nothing, they are irrelevant. They do not affect the behavior of our elected officials, they do not show us anything about the future.

    Also, remember that hatred of the government is a virtue in the minds of conservatives. So just because the people may hate Congress, do not think they will stop voting Republican.

  • stormskies on August 02, 2011 11:53 AM:

    As in United Stupid America. USA ! USA ! USA !

  • Objective Dem on August 02, 2011 11:58 AM:

    There are also levels of disapproval. I'm upset with the Dems because I think they did such a poor job fighting the tea party thugs. But the tea party thugs disgust me more than any politicians in my entire life. They were ready to wreck the credit rating of the US and plunge the world in a depression because they couldn't wait until the budget process to address budget issues.

  • shortstop on August 02, 2011 12:01 PM:

    No one’s popular, but the GOP is feeling the brunt of the public backlash.

    No, it's feeling a scant 5 percent more of the backlash. Which is not at all how it would be if Americans were paying attention, decently informed by the media, and capable of and willing to analyze events in Washington.

  • anon on August 02, 2011 12:02 PM:

    And what do the unpopular dems and repubs have in common? Bad policy decisions that have created and perpetuated the mess.

  • Steve LaBonne on August 02, 2011 12:10 PM:

    A few percentage points worse than the Dems is "feeling the brunt"? Steve's asskissing of the institutional Democratic Party has reached a new low. People know that nobody on either side of the aisle gives a damn about their needs and concerns, and they feel powerless to do anything about it- rightly so, because we indeed are. The game is completely rigged.

  • hornblower on August 02, 2011 12:17 PM:

    Stop obsessing about polls. They produce a headline and create their own story. A very cheap form of journalism.

  • ET on August 02, 2011 12:25 PM:

    I will be the first to admit that team Obama may not have handled itself well over this, but I maintain that Congress did worse.

    It isn't just policy but process. Most Americans don't understand the process - not the just the basics but the the nuts and bolts rules of getting bills though the House/Senate. Because they don't it just looks like nobody can get anything done. Of course if they did they might actually have a worse opinion because they would understand how the system has been gamed.

    The way the partisanship is I don't know how things can't get bogged down.

  • Schtick on August 02, 2011 12:30 PM:

    Let's see how the polls are say, a couple months before the election in 2012. Look at how they are operating in WI. They are doing major damage in WI that will take years to straighten out. Think about that while the election is over a year away.

    crapcha....dgestap tongjo....new dance!

  • jme0909 on August 02, 2011 12:32 PM:

    Unfortunately for him, Obama will likely be running against Romney or Perry - someone who can stand on the sidelines and decide which way the wind is blowing before taknig a positon. And if necessary they can run against both Obama AND the Congress after they get the nomination. So the fact that Obama is much more popular than Congress really matters little in 2012. Congress is pretty much always less popular than the President.

  • OKDem on August 02, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Shortstop & LaBonne - the poll shows Republicans with both 5% more disapproval and 5% less approval for a total of 10% worse than the Democrats in Congress.
    If it was only 5% more disapproval, I would agree with you but 10% is statistically significant.

    Not mentioned is that since the fight over the continuing resolution fight in April the trend has been to be more negative about the Congressional Rethugs.

    Concerning the good point that other than Bachmann, the leading Rethug candidates can are not down in mud. Except Mittens had to open his mouth and go Teabagger.

    Lol - the thought that robo-Mitt might be dumber than Good Hair Perry.

    captcha - ayandi sin = Ay and I sin?

  • AndThenThere'sThat on August 02, 2011 2:43 PM:

    Shortstop & LaBonne - the poll shows Republicans with both 5% more disapproval and 5% less approval for a total of 10% worse than the Democrats in Congress.
    If it was only 5% more disapproval, I would agree with you but 10% is statistically significant.

    I'm not sure what kind of math that is. 5% less approval for GOP = 5% increase for their disapproval. The question was binary and must approximate 100%. The question did not have a "I have no fucking clue, the US media always tells me that Democrats are equally to blame for Republican crisis" as a potential answer.

    And I agree with shortstop. 5% doesn't qualify for a "brunt".

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