Watch CBS News

Americans are frustrated with Congress

How Americans are evaluating Trump
How Americans are evaluating Trump 03:37

By Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto

The American public is frustrated that Congress hasn't gotten much done and Republicans split on whether their party is getting in the way of President Trump's agenda. Meanwhile, by two to one Americans think Congressional Democrats are doing more to get in the way of Mr. Trump's agenda, but not offering their own agenda for the country.

Congress has left Washington for summer recess, and nearly nine in 10 Americans -- 86 percent -- say it didn't get much done. Most – particularly Republicans - feel frustrated about that.


Among those who say Congress didn't accomplish much, three in four are frustrated, feeling a lot of unfinished business was left behind. Frustration is evident across the political spectrum, but some Democrats (about a third) are glad Congress didn't get much done because it didn't have the right priorities.


Underscoring this sentiment, Congress continues to get dismal overall ratings from the public. Seventy-three percent disapprove of the job they are doing, six points worse than in February.


Some Republicans express frustration with how their party in Congress is approaching the President's agenda. Fifty-six percent of them say Congressional Republicans are getting in the way of that plan; just 13 percent think they are helping it, and another quarter feel Congress is striking the right balance on Trump's agenda. Among those Republicans who say their party is impeding Trump's agenda, nine in 10 are frustrated about that.

With many members of Congress now back home, eight in 10 Americans think it's very important that members personally attend town halls to hear from their constituents.


But many Americans are uncertain that their own member of Congress would actually listen to them. Fifty-five percent say their representative might be available but wouldn't listen, or else wouldn't be available at all. Fewer than four in 10 think their member of Congress would be available and hear them out.

When Congress returns to Washington in September, Americans most want them to get to work on an issue they left unfinished – health care. Improving health care is the top priority for both Democrats and Republicans, far ahead of other issues like reforming the tax system and infrastructure.  


The Democratic Party

By two to one, Americans think congressional Democrats are getting in the way of Mr. Trump's agenda, more than they're offering their own agenda for the country.


Nearly eight in 10 of those who feel congressional Democrats are doing more to block Trump than offering their own agenda are frustrated by that.

Most Americans think the Democratic Party is more focused on civil rights and social justice these days, but a majority thinks it should be more focused on economic opportunity. Republicans and independents are especially likely to say this.

Democrats themselves are divided over which of those their party should focus on. Liberal Democrats are more likely to say civil rights and social justice, while moderate and conservative Democrats think the party's focus should be more on economic opportunity.


 Americans don't feel that either Democratic party or the GOP has the only good ideas for the economy. Many think their ideas are a mix of good and bad. Even most party stalwarts describe their party's economic ideas as a mix of good and bad.


Right now, Americans do not believe that the country would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress than the Republicans. Almost four in 10 think things would be the same. Three in 10 think things would be worse.

Just six in 10 Democrats think things would be better.

This is underscored by the negative opinions Americans continue to have of both political parties, although the Democratic Party is viewed slightly more favorably -- 39 percent have a favorable view of the Democratic party, while 32 percent view the Republican party favorably.


Vice President Mike Pence

More Americans approve than disapprove of the job Mike Pence is doing as Vice-President. His ratings are similar to what they were in February. Forty-seven percent now approve of the job he's doing, compared to 50 percent in February.


Pence gets very high approval ratings from his own party (88 percent), while most Democrats disapprove (61 percent). Independents are divided (42 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove).

This poll was conducted by telephone August 3-6, 2017 among a random sample of 1,111 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Poll toplines

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.