Americans’ approval of Congress is at its highest level since 2009, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. Nearly 28 percent of respondents said they approved of “the way Congress is handling its job.”
Although the overall trend line might appear to suggest that the partisan divide is healing, a closer look at the survey suggests otherwise.
What’s easy to miss, however, is where the surge in approval comes from — a widening partisan divide. The survey found a significant gap in congressional approval by party affiliation and signals that attitudes are more polarized than before.
In 2009, 19 percent of Republican respondents said they approved of the job Congress was doing compared to 43 percent of Democrats. That dynamic has flipped and the gap has increased to 50 percent of Republican respondents approving of Congress contrasted with just 11 percent of Democrats.
Another trend emerges when examining independent voters’ attitudes on Congress. For independents, the February bump isn’t as pronounced in either 2009 or 2017: jumping 8 and 12 percent, respectively, but remained under 30 percent regardless of the party in power.
Frank Newport from Gallup suggests:
“The key to the future may be the developing relationship between Congress and Trump. It is not clear whether GOP leaders in Congress will support all of Trump’s initiatives, including repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, nor is it clear how fast Congress will act on Trump’s promises that require new legislation.”
Whether or not such a relationship will materialize remains to be seen. But Republicans’ optimism may soon return to frustration as congressional gridlock is likely to return and haunt the 115th Congress.