Poll: Americans still dissatisfied with Washington, economy

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

Americans' dissatisfaction with the economy continues along with their disapproval of President Obama's and Congress' handling of it, according to a new CBS News poll released Wednesday.

The poll reveals that Americans continue to rate the nation's economy badly: six in 10 still say it is in bad shape, while 37 percent say it is good. Views of the economy are more positive now compared to last year at this time, but the percentage that says the economy is in bad shape has been 60 percent or higher since January 2008.


CBS News Poll: Rating the National Economy

Optimism about the economy's direction has ebbed slightly from last month. Thirty percent of Americans now say the economy is improving - down from 34 percent in June.

Even though the nation's unemployment rate has inched below 8 percent for 10 consecutive months, Americans are not feeling especially optimistic about the job market. While 30 percent think the job market is getting better, about as many (29 percent) feel it is getting worse.

Americans, however, are more positive about two other economic areas: the housing market and the stock market. Forty-eight percent think the housing market is improving (only 12 percent say it's getting worse). The public is also three times as likely to say the stock market is getting better than getting worse. More than four in 10 say the stock market is holding steady.

President Obama and the Economy

More Americans continue to disapprove (49 percent) than approve (45 president) of President Obama's handling of the economy. He receives his highest marks on handling terrorism (56 percent approval), while his approval ratings on the economy (45 percent), foreign policy (43 percent) and immigration (43 percent) remain below 50 percent. The president's ratings on most of these issues have held steady since last month, although his approval rating on immigration is up four points.

The president's overall approval rating is now 48 percent, similar to what it was last month. Mr. Obama's approval rating has hovered below 50 percent for the past few months.


By a large margin, Americans want Congress to concentrate on the economy now - 40 percent say that. The budget deficit is mentioned by 16 percent, and 15 percent say health care. 12 percent pick education.

Poll Chart: Most important issue for Congress to concentrate on now

When asked directly whether Congress is trying to do things to improve the economy, a 56 percent majority say it is not, and just 39 percent say it is. There is little difference by party on this question.

Nearly two in three Americans are skeptical as to whether Congress can address and solve the most important issues and problems facing the country. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents are not confident.

But it isn't just Congress that Americans lack confidence in - 48 percent are not confident in the president to address these major problems either.

A majority of Americans - 59 percent - describe themselves as frustrated with Congress and how it is working nowadays. Most Republicans, Democrats and independents are frustrated.

Poll Chart: What describes your view of congress and how it's working

Congress continues to get a low approval rating - just 17 percent approve, and three in four disapprove. For the last two years, fewer than one in five has approved. Approval is low among self-identified Republicans (17 percent), Democrats (20 percent) and independents (16 percent).

The poll also explored the reasons behind these views of Congress. Among those who disapprove of Congress, the most widely mentioned reason for their disapproval is that Congress is not working together, is in gridlock and fighting (volunteered by 27 percent of those who disapprove). Other reasons mentioned include that Congress is ineffective, is self-serving, and is not doing anything.

Among the much smaller group who approve, the most common reason given is that Congress is doing a good job (volunteered by 44 percent of those who approve).

The public is critical of both parties in Congress, although Congressional Democrats fare slightly better than Republicans.

Six in 10 Democrats approve of their own party's members of Congress, while over half of Republicans disapprove of the job Congressional Republicans are doing.

While most Americans do not approve of Congress overall, when it comes to their own representative they are much more positive. Fifty percent approve of the job the representative from their own district is doing, and 30 percent disapprove. Historically, Americans have given a more positive assessment to their own member of Congress than to the body as a whole.

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