Congress: 1 in 10 Americans Approve

Photograph by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Members of Congress ascend the House steps of the Capitol before a vote on the floor.

One in ten Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.

(Quick quiz: who among the major parties’ presidential tickets never served there?)

Ten percent is as low as congressional approval has sunk in 38 years of Gallup Poll surveys on the question.

It equals the nadir reached in February.

It’s not as if the public has generally approved of the job that Congress is doing. The approval rating has averaged 34 percent since Gallup first starting asking the question in April 1974. It ran at 30 percent out of the starting gate.

It peaked in October 2001 — spiking to 84 percent — the month after the terrorist attacks against New York City and the Pentagon.

Yet before 2007, public approval for Congress had fallen below 20 percent only twice, Gallup reports — in 1979 and 1992.

“It is difficult to pinpoint precise causes for these extraordinarily negative views, although the continuing poor economy is certainly a major factor,” Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport writes.

“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,” he suggests. “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.

“Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s choice for his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, is himself a sitting member of the House, but it is not clear whether voters’ disdain for Congress will in any way rub off on their assessments of Ryan,” Newport notes. “Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were members of the Senate, leaving Romney as the only one of the four presidential candidates who has not served as an elected representative in Washington.”


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