79% of Americans Think Lawmakers Listen to Party Leaders, Not Voters

Congress got some good news on Wednesday as Rasmussen reports a slight bump in congressional approval. According to the latest survey, 11 percent of likely U.S. voters think the current Congress is doing an excellent or good job, up 4 percentage points from 7 percent. Members of Congress must be thrilled they are out of the single digits.

However, the same survey found that nearly 80 percent of respondents (79%) believe most members of Congress listen to party leaders and not the voters they represent. The percentage of respondents who believe Congress is doing a good job is the same as the number of voters who think the average congressman or woman actually listens to their constituents.

These specific figures have remained consistent since September 2010, suggesting that no matter what the makeup of Congress is, representation has not improved. The status quo remains unchanged.

“And no matter how bad things are, 62% believe Congress can always find a way to make them worse,” Rasmussen writes. “Just 24% disagree, but that’s up five points from last October and the highest level of doubt in four-and-a-half years.”

Only 13 percent of voters think Congress has passed any legislation that will improve life in the United States. Seventy percent believe the legislative body hasn’t passed any meaningful legislation at all. This figure has trended up as an increasing number of Americans say it is more important to pass good legislation than prevent bad legislation from passing.

Voters don’t believe Congress is doing its job, and yet a majority do not see things changing anytime soon.

Americans don’t have much faith in elections or their ability to produce adequate representation. Fifty-nine percent of likely U.S. voters believe incumbents are almost always re-elected because elections are rigged to favor them. It is no secret that approximately 95 percent of congressional elections remain uncompetitive.

Partisan gerrymandering and election laws created to favor the two dominant political parties maintain the status quo and keep elections uncompetitive. Ballot access and campaign finance laws are manipulated to silence independent and third-party opposition. One could certainly say the game is rigged to favor the house.

Under the current election system in most states, the parties make the rules, and as a result millions of voters are disenfranchised by a process that does not give them an equal voice, electoral districts are drawn to favor the majority party and repress the voice of voters outside the party, and lawmakers base legislative decisions on what will appease their party’s base — not what will benefit their district or its constituency.

The only way to get lawmakers to listen to voters and not special interests is to focus on how exactly these lawmakers are elected and stay elected. Elections need to be more competitive. They need to put power in the hands of voters, not private organizations like political parties.

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