Watch CBSN Live

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
Poll bar chart: Rating the National Economy CBS News

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

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

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.

Next page: Health care, immigration, NSA surveillance


Gridlock in Congress

Most Americans (56 percent), including more than half of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike) say that in recent years there is more gridlock in Washington than usual.

Both sides get at least some blame for gridlock, but congressional Republicans receive slightly more. Sixty-three percent give President Obama and the Democrats in Congress at least some blame, while 74 percent say Republicans shoulder at least some of it. 33 percent assign little or no blame to the president and Democrats; comparatively fewer, 20 percent, give little or no blame to Republicans.

It is fitting, perhaps, that in an era of partisan gridlock, Democrats in the poll place a lot of blame on congressional Republicans (54 percent), while most Republicans in the poll put a lot of blame on the president and congressional Democrats (55 percent).

As has often been the case in the past, Americans call for compromise from both parties: 83 percent want the President and Democrats to compromise, and 80 percent want the Republicans in Congress to do so.

Health Care

President Obama touted the Affordable Care Act 

in a speech  last week, but Americans remain skeptical. As they have since the health care law was enacted in 2010, more disapprove than approve of it.

Most Americans want either the entire law repealed (39 percent and the highest in CBS News Polls) or a repeal of the individual mandate (18 percent). Fewer want to see the law kept as is or expanded.

Poll Table: What should Congress do about the Health Care Law?
Poll Table: What should Congress do about the Health Care Law? CBS News

As might be expected there are partisan differences here. Most Republicans disapprove of the health care law and want to see it repealed, while Democrats support the law and prefer it be kept as is or be expanded.

More than three years after the health care bill was signed into law, 52 percent of Americans say they are confused about the effect it will have on them. Fewer than half - 44 percent - say they have a good understanding of the law - a percentage that hasn't changed much since March 2010, shortly after the law was enacted.

From what Americans have heard or read, more think the health care law will personally hurt them (38 percent) rather than help them (13 percent). More than four in 10 think the health care law will have no impact on them personally.


As Congress continues to tackle immigration reform, there is widespread support for providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks and learning English. 78 percent favor that; just 20 percent oppose. Support cuts across partisan lines.

Still, Americans think securing the nation's border should be a higher priority over addressing the status of illegal immigrants. Majorities of Republicans and independents say border security should take priority, while Democrats are more divided.

After the Zimmerman Verdict

Americans are sharply divided over the Zimmerman verdict, whereby George Zimmerman was found not guilty of all charges. 42 percent of Americans say they are either satisfied or pleased by the verdict, but 46 percent describe themselves as either disappointed or angry.

Feelings about the Zimmerman verdict reveal a division along racial lines. While 52 percent of whites are at least satisfied with the not guilty verdict, an overwhelming 94 percent of blacks feel differently: 53 percent of blacks say they are disappointed and 41 percent describe themselves as angry.

There is a large division by political party as well, with 73 percent of Republicans satisfied or pleased, and 65 percent of Democrats either disappointed or angry. Independents are more divided, though they lean towards disappointed.

Same-Sex Marriage

Nearly a month after the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on same-sex marriage, 55% of Americans now say it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry, up slightly from June (before the rulings) and the highest percentage since CBS News began asking this question in 2012. 39% say same-sex marriage should not be legal.

Partisan and age differences persist: Most Democrats and independents favor allowing same-sex couples to marry, but most Republicans do not. Young Americans, those ages 18 to 29, are especially likely to support same-sex marriage, while those who are older are less likely to.

Snowden and NSA Surveillance

Most Americans (56 percent), including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, disapprove of government contractor Edward Snowden leaking information about the government's collection of Americans' phone call records.

And while two in three Americans view the government's collection of phone records as a violation of privacy, a majority (52 percent) also sees it as a necessary tool to help find terrorists.

Next page: Full poll results


This poll was conducted by telephone from July 18-22, 2013 among 1,036 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.





View CBS News In