Congress Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low Despite 90% Re-Election Rate

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In today’s highly polarized political environment, it seems there are few things on which Democrats and Republicans can agree. Among the American public, however, a broad new consensus has emerged uniting people from across the partisan political spectrum: Republican-Democrat party control of the United States Congress is highly objectionable.

A new Gallup poll on Congress Approval Rating published on Tuesday finds that just 10 percent of Americans approve of the way the Congress is handling its job, while a whopping 83 percent say they disapprove of the current federal legislature.

The 10 percent mark matches a historic low found in February of this year. in Gallup’s surveys. It has now been below 20 percent since June 2011.

Americans across the political spectrum have a highly negative view of the divided Congress, in which the House is controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats. Just 11 percent of independents, 10 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats surveyed for the poll said they approve of the way the Congress is handling its job.

In recent months, the Congressional favorability rating has dropped by more than 50 percent among Democrats. In June, 20 percent of Democrats said they approved of the way the Congress was handling it’s job. On the other hand, Independents’ views of the Congress have improved slightly over the course of the present year.

Late last year, just 7 percent of Independents said they approved of the way the Congress was handling its job. Republicans were much more positive toward the Congress on the heels of the 2010 midterm elections. In February 2011, 22 percent of Republicans said they had a favorable view of the legislature.

Theories abound to explain the public’s highly negative assessment of the US House and Senate. Gallup suggests a poor economy combined with a divided Congress may account for the consistently low approval numbers, arguing that a divided legislature provides “an opportunity for Americans of all political persuasions to dislike some aspect of Congress.” Others argue that the current Congress’ lack of productivity is to blame.

In an article for USA Today, Susan Davis states that the 112th Congress is the least productive legislature since the end of World War II, using the number of bills passed as the prime measure of productivity.

“Not even the 80th Congress, which President Truman called the “do-nothing Congress” in 1948, passed as few laws as the current one, records show,” writes Davis. “The inertia continues to fuel Congress’ historically low approval ratings, which hit 10 percent on Tuesday, according to Gallup polling.”

Yet, if history is any guide, despite these negative ratings Americans will overwhelmingly vote to retain roughly 90% of their sitting representatives in the House and Senate on election day this November, according to numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The contradiction here could not be more apparent: 10 percent of Americans approve of the way the Congress is handling its job, but it is highly likely that 90 percent of those representatives will be reelected in November.

Why do Americans continue to support Republicans and Democrats of whom they do not approve?

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Michael Higham Everyone hates Congress, but everyone loves their congressman
  2. Bryce Oliver Because everyone thinks it is everyone else's congressional representative that is doing a poor job, not their own! You see, we only see the ads and campaigning for our own guys and we then pick one to vote for, so we naturally assume it must be all the others that suck... It can't possibly be the one "we" voted for contributing to the problem!
  3. Nancy DeBerry We must like present system or we would otherwise change it. We also must like being completely misinformed and fed a constant media barrage of information that doesn't matter. We're so focused on who people marry and who or what we worship that we're not paying attention to the really important issues that are being hosed every day in Congress. We are also completely happy with the notion that our one vote is acceptable when billionaires get a "vote" for every dollar they donate on both sides of the aisle. Congress should be considered a brothel.
  4. Jane Payne BECAUSE THE VOTE IS CHEATED !!!!!!!!!!!
  5. Earl Jackson Because everyone likes their congressman and hate all the others.
  6. Jana Morphis I've been asking that question for decades....
  7. Adam Edward Weiker Lol, spoken like a true idiot
  8. Charles Eastman We need to educate people in school on voting regardless of party choice. And associate other countries that that are under a dictatorship and poorly run as an EXAMPLE, to get in the students mind the importance of voting. Or take our country and keep in mind what you want from your congress and president. If things are running very poorly , as is our situation now. Many of our congress now have only one thing in mind, THERE WALLETS,not their constituents. Congress is supposed to work for their constituents. Many to MOST think about them selves and forget the people who got them their jobs. So when this is the case get rid of them. We need a clause to get rid of the bad ones Immediately. And before anything can become LAW there constituents need to approve.
  9. Bob Jackson "Vasilios"; You said; ... "but for now, let’s focus on fixing US, get us back on to a good moral footing, let’s understand we have our differences and reach TRUE COMPROMISES for the greater good of our society and not for a select few." ... If we could ONLY BE HONEST, this is really quite simple - "Which Party literally FORBIDS the practice of Compromise, and Threatens their Members with "Primary Election Challenges" should they 'cross the Mandatory, "No Compromise" Line?' You answer that question Honestly, and Make Your Own Decision. .......
  10. Bob Jackson "Adam" are you suggesting that we should have 535 "Hair-On-Fire Tea Party" Legislators in Congress? That would be interesting, and frightening, really frightening. .......
32 comments
Michael Higham
Michael Higham

Everyone hates Congress, but everyone loves their congressman

Bryce Oliver
Bryce Oliver

Because everyone thinks it is everyone else's congressional representative that is doing a poor job, not their own! You see, we only see the ads and campaigning for our own guys and we then pick one to vote for, so we naturally assume it must be all the others that suck... It can't possibly be the one "we" voted for contributing to the problem!

Nancy DeBerry
Nancy DeBerry

We must like present system or we would otherwise change it. We also must like being completely misinformed and fed a constant media barrage of information that doesn't matter. We're so focused on who people marry and who or what we worship that we're not paying attention to the really important issues that are being hosed every day in Congress. We are also completely happy with the notion that our one vote is acceptable when billionaires get a "vote" for every dollar they donate on both sides of the aisle. Congress should be considered a brothel.

Jane Payne
Jane Payne

BECAUSE THE VOTE IS CHEATED !!!!!!!!!!!

Earl Jackson
Earl Jackson

Because everyone likes their congressman and hate all the others.

Jana Morphis
Jana Morphis

I've been asking that question for decades....

Lynn Baker
Lynn Baker

can we get the names of those who are voting for 10% approval of the congress, and give them a psychiatric test ?

Edward Theilmann
Edward Theilmann

because they believe the lies that the two corrupt corporate parties feed them.The American voting public is dumb beyond belief. They keep on thinking that whatever party is not in power will make it all better when they win power. What a joke that is .The whole political process in America is based on lies and deception and until the American voter is brave enough to take that first step and vote for a third party this is all they will ever have.You get the lousy government you deserve.

Jake Longson
Jake Longson

1. The vote doesn't matter unless you have a lot of money.

2. The general population is to afraid or just don't care to step up to the plate.

3...... WAKE UP!!! if you want something to change

Vasilios Betoglou
Vasilios Betoglou

Without sinking to calling people sheep... most people want to belong to something so badly that they will eat up whatever their leaders spout. And once you are part of a group, even if you don't agree with certain things or if your group's ideals change, it's hard to admit to yourself that you made a mistake, especially when those who are anti-your-group are putting you on the defensive.

This is true for politics, religion, your boss, anyone in an authority position. Not that all of those institutions are bad in any way, but there is the possibility for parts of them being corrupt. Politics are not bad, neither are politicians, but things have gotten out of hand when those who are supposed to represent us have no backbone to stand up against corruption. You can see and hear the debates on some of the banking scandals on the hill. These are people who have commited crimes, where they have created undue hardship to the population of this world through unfair practices and have lined their pockets. What is their punishment, if any? A fine, in the sum of a fraction of what they have stolen. And who gets this money from this fine? Is it rolled back into the corrupt system? I didn't get a cent, did you? If I robbed a million dollars from a bank and instead of going to jail I was asked to pay back $10,000, I'd be robbing a lot of banks. It's insane.

The Fed is creating money out of thin air, those on the Fed are getting richer but the value of our savings is vanishing.

At the core, the democratic and repbulican parties are not much different, in the sense that both are being bought. It doesn't matter what letter you have on your chest when you keep playing the same game, and those "in power" or who "have influence" know it.

Anyone brave enough to make a stand gets squashed, either financially, or have their reputation smudged, or are called unpatriotic, etc.

If the government (president, congress, supreme court) can't get their act together, what hope do we have of fixing anything short of revolution? This isn't a US problem. This is a world problem... but for now, let's focus on fixing US, get us back on to a good moral footing, let's understand we have our differences and reach true compromises for the greater good of our society and not for a select few.

Let's be civically and socially responsible but not at the cost of fiscal responsibility. Government should give its people the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, but should pass laws so that everyone has the same opportunity, where your pursuit does not harm mine.

Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown

They know that a third party will never be taken seriously (no I'm not happy with this), so they stick to the 'lesser evil' philosophy. I say both sides have been corrupted by greed of the politicians and emotionally driven stupidity/good intentions of the people. How can we all be represented by only two parties? Immature rant over.

Preston H Long
Preston H Long

Because Americans are stupid. A new poll was published today that 57% of Americans that said they might note vote or registar to vote did not know who the VP was.

Mary Ann Wilson-Putman
Mary Ann Wilson-Putman

I have likes in both dem and rep in my state on Facebook and watch their every move, plus read up on what they're doing. I think many don't follow their Congressman and assume they're doing a good job.

Patrick Pezzati
Patrick Pezzati

The reason is because most people think it's all the *other* side's fault. They don't realize it's both sides, and all the crap they keep throwing at each other.

Shane Brooks
Shane Brooks

...because of month after month of corporate media polls and soundbites for the chosen party elite...the shutting out and marginilization of any outsider non millionaire contender, that would dare challenge the status quo. You can't blame millions of people who are the targets of billionaires paying millionaires to influence their thoughts and perceptions, while perverting or limiting all relevant and factual information. The polls and debates are a disgrace to the public.

Missi Sheer-West
Missi Sheer-West

10%? Everyone bitches about it, no one ever changes it. Doesn't effect me or false faith that thier govts gonna take care of them. I'm fed up with the lies.

Peter Santisteban
Peter Santisteban

The masses are so brainwashed n programmed to be lie ve that either party or wealthy politician is going to cater to the people instead of there corp sponsors.

Adam Edward Weiker
Adam Edward Weiker

First, it's called disinformation. People don't get the facts about these politicians. Second, they are doing something about it. 5 RINO's were just voted OUT of office.

Paula Ralaford Davis
Paula Ralaford Davis

It is a fact that everyone thinks its the other guys' Congressmen that are the problem. As we reign in pork spending, hopefully that will change.

Michael Snider
Michael Snider

Because they like their member of Congress better than they like Congress as an institution.

George Manty
George Manty

People don't feel like they have any other choice. So they "choose the lesser of two evils".

Matt Metzner
Matt Metzner

It would be interesting to see Congress' approval rating next to individuals Members' approval ratings in their districts, compared to reelection. That might get a little closer to an answer as we don't elect Congress as a whole, but in pieces.

Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson

"Vasilios"; You said; ... "but for now, let’s focus on fixing US, get us back on to a good moral footing, let’s understand we have our differences and reach TRUE COMPROMISES for the greater good of our society and not for a select few." ...

If we could ONLY BE HONEST, this is really quite simple - "Which Party literally FORBIDS the practice of Compromise, and Threatens their Members with "Primary Election Challenges" should they 'cross the Mandatory, "No Compromise" Line?' You answer that question Honestly, and Make Your Own Decision. .......

Charles Eastman
Charles Eastman

We need to educate people in school on voting regardless of party choice. And associate other countries that that are under a dictatorship and poorly run as an EXAMPLE, to get in the students mind the importance of voting. Or take our country and keep in mind what you want from your congress and president. If things are running very poorly , as is our situation now. Many of our congress now have only one thing in mind, THERE WALLETS,not their constituents. Congress is supposed to work for their constituents. Many to MOST think about them selves and forget the people who got them their jobs. So when this is the case get rid of them. We need a clause to get rid of the bad ones Immediately. And before anything can become LAW there constituents need to approve.

Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson

"Adam" are you suggesting that we should have 535 "Hair-On-Fire Tea Party" Legislators in Congress? That would be interesting, and frightening, really frightening. .......