83% disapproval rating
Worst in 30 years! And we elect them?
by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.
The prior low approval rating for Congress was 14% in July 2008 when the United States was dealing with record-high gas prices and the economy was in recession.
The current results are based on a Dec. 10-12 Gallup poll, conducted as Congress is finishing work on an important lame-duck session. The session has been highlighted by the agreement on taxes forged last week by President Obama and Republicans in Congress. The tax deal preserves the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates for all Americans for two years, revises the estate tax, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed for a year, and reduces payroll taxes for American workers. It is expected to pass despite vocal opposition from some lawmakers.
Americans are generally more positive than negative toward the deal, but many Democrats in Congress oppose it.
Frustration with the tax deal among Democrats in the general population could be a major reason for Americans' historically low approval rating of Congress. That frustration could be opposition to the bill's particulars or frustration with the Democrats in Congress opposing the president's deal. Democrats' approval of Congress is down significantly, to 16% now, from 29% in November. The November poll was conducted after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for 2011-2012 in the midterm elections, so the drop in this month's numbers is not a reaction to the Democrats' midterm losses.
Americans currently hold Congress in lower esteem for the job it is doing than at any point in the last 36 years. In the past month, many of the supporters it had, largely Democrats, appear to have become frustrated with its work. That frustration seems to be taken out more on the Democratic congressional majority than on the president, whose approval rating has been relatively stable between 44% and 46% since the election among all Americans, and between 78% and 81% among Democrats. Gallup complete report and charts