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Poll: Congress, tea party take hits from government shutdown

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

In the aftermath of the partial government shutdown and debt ceiling debate, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress get low job approval ratings, but Republicans fare worse.

Views of the tea party also suffered.

While 31 percent of Americans approve of the way Democrats in Congress are doing their job, just 18 percent approve of how Republicans are doing theirs. Disapproval of Republicans in Congress has risen five percentage points since before the shutdown, to 78 percent. Democrats' "negatives" climbed three points, to 65 percent.

The recent budget negotiations have made 64 percent of Americans pessimistic about Congress' ability to deal with future issues affecting the country; only 11 percent are optimistic.

Tea party adherents were front-and-center during the shutdown, and views of the movement have become more negative. Just 14 percent of Americans now hold a favorable view of the tea party, down from 18 percent as the government shutdown began, and unfavorable views are up 7 points. Half of Americans still hold no view of the tea party or aren't familiar with it, even after the high-profile political battles.

Conservative Republicans hold net positive views of the tea party (40 percent have a favorable opinion); Democrats and liberals hold especially negative views.

Sixty percent of Americans don't think the Tea Party reflects the views of most Americans, but the movement's backers don't feel they hold a minority view - in fact, the opposite: As with many groups, tea party supporters think their own views are held by most Americans.

The signup process on, the web site for the new health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), has had well-publicized problems since its launch earlier this month. Many Americans seem to be aware of them: Only 12 percent think the sign up process is going well, while far more -- 49 percent -- say it's not. But more than a third of Americans - 38 percent -- can't evaluate how signup is going.

Overall views of the 2010 health care law are the same as they were when the program launched earlier in October. More Americans disapprove (51 percent) than approve of it (43 percent).

Views continue to be highly partisan: 74 percent of Democrats approve of it, compared to 87 percent of Republicans who disapprove. 55 percent of independents disapprove.

Meanwhile, most Americans continue to view the economy's condition negatively: Two thirds think it's in bad shape; just 32 percent think it is doing well.


The poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 18-21, 2013 among 1,007 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. There was a three-point margin of error.

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