Gallup Poll: Congress’ Approval at Historic Low

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A recent Gallup Poll finds:

Congress’ approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove…

During the energy crisis of 1979, Congressional approval was 19%. President Bush’s approval rating is currently 32%.

In general, Americans are not incredibly positive about Congress. Historical approval ratings are usually below 50%, “the high point was 84% approval after the September 11 terrorist attacks.”

Why are Congressional ratings so low today? It depends on who you ask. Democrats tend to place blame on obstructionist Republicans. Republicans blame Democratic policies that are failing to resonate with the electorate. There is also anger among anti-War Democrats that the troops are not being brought home immediately.

Frustration with Congress spans the political spectrum. There are only minor (but not statistically meaningful) differences in the approval ratings Democrats (21%), Republicans (18%), and independents (17%) give to Congress. Typically, partisans view Congress much more positively when their party is in control of the institution, so the fact that Democrats’ ratings are not materially better than Republicans’ is notable. The nine-point drop in Congress’ job approval rating from last month to this month has come exclusively from Democrats and independents, with Democrats’ ratings dropping 11 points (from 32% to 21%) and independents’ ratings dropping 13 points (from 30% to 17%). Republicans’ 18% approval rating is unchanged from last month.

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