Low Ratings For Congress

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In the wake of the Senate's filibuster fight, Congress' job approval stands today at just 29 percent, down from the 35 percent measured last month following Congress' dispute over the Terri Schiavo case, and now at its lowest level in this poll since 1996.

Today a majority of Americans, 55 percent, disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. Most of the interviews for this poll were conducted before the filibuster compromise deal was announced Monday night.

CONGRESS' JOB APPROVAL

Approve
Now
29%
4/05
35%
7/96
27%

Disapprove
Now
55%
4/05
51%
7/96
58%

Approval ratings for Congress have historically been low, rarely moving above the 50 percent mark since this poll began asking the question in 1977. However, recent Congressional ratings are at some of their lowest points since the mid-nineties.

Americans also say Congress does not share their priorities — 68 percent think it does not. Most partisans on both sides — including Republicans, whose party controls both chambers — think the legislature is out of touch in this regard.

DOES CONGRESS SHARE YOUR PRIORITIES?

Yes
All
20%
Rep.
29%
Dem.
15%
Ind.
18%

No
All
68%
Rep.
59%
Dem.
75%
Ind.
71%

The sense that Congress doesn't share one's priorities is related to negative views on its job performance.

VIEWS OF CONGRESS: PRIORITIES AND JOB APPROVAL

Congress shares priorities
Approve
62%
Disapprove
28%

Congress does not share priorities
Approve
20%
Disapprove
66%

Neither federal judges nor the filibuster appear prominently on the list of Americans' priorities; the public instead cites the war in Iraq (19 percent), and the economy and jobs (19 percent) as the country's most pressing problems. These issues are followed by terrorism (7 percent) and Social Security (5 percent).

MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM

War in Iraq
19%
Economy/Jobs
19%
Terrorism
7%
Social Security
5%

Last month, a CBS News Poll found that Americans were similarly concerned about the economy and war in Iraq, but many named the Terri Schiavo case as the most prominent thing they could recall the Congress doing up to that time.

Neither party's congressional delegation is seen favorably by a majority of Americans. Forty-one percent have a favorable view of the Republicans in Congress and 44 percent see the Democrats in a positive light. This rating has not changed much for the Republicans in the last month; for Democrats, it is down a bit from 49 percent favorable in April.

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