Poll: Little Trust In Congress

democrat republican house congress tie deadlock status quo CBS/AP

Many challenges await the 109th Congress as it returns from recess — including improving its own standing with the American public. Americans generally see Congress as a legislature that bickers far too much, and that attends more to politics than to problem-solving. Attitudes toward Congress cut across partisan lines: both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have managed to vex many of their own partisans in the nation.

In polling conducted July 29 to Aug. 2, just as Congress left Washington for its annual break, just a third of Americans said they approved its job performance up to that point. That rating was unchanged from earlier in the summer, and remained down from the 44 percent measured in January, when members were first sworn in for the session.

CONGRESS' JOB APPROVAL

7/29-8/2 2005
Approve
33%
Disapprove
52%


6/2005
Approve
33%
Disapprove
53%

1/2005
Approve
44%
Disapprove
39%

8/1993
Approve
21%
Disapprove
68%

Just 40 percent of Republicans — whose party controls both houses — approve; 49 percent disapprove. Even more independents and, perhaps not surprisingly, more Democrats disapprove. Congressional approval historically tends to be low, and has rarely moved above the 50 percent mark since this poll began asking about it in 1977.

Partisan antagonism is not driving this disapproval — in fact, Americans are looking for less partisanship and more cooperation on matters of real concern to them. When those who disapprove of Congress were asked to say why in their own words, the bulk of responses centered on the notions that Congress has too much partisan arguing (20 percent), has the wrong priorities (14 percent), and doesn't seem to care about ordinary Americans (9 percent).

THOSE WHO DISAPPROVE OF CONGRESS: REASONS WHY

Too much partisan arguing/bickering
20%
Wrong priorities/ not addressing key issues
14%
Don't care about people like me
9%
Don't stand up to Bush enough 6%

6% of disapproving Americans were disappointed that Congress had not stood up to the Bush Administration, and only 3% disapproved of Congress simply because it is controlled by the GOP.
  • Joel Roberts

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