Poll: Post-shutdown, Congress disapproval at all-time high


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

The recent government shutdown and the debate over raising the debt ceiling have taken their toll on Americans' perceptions of the legislative branch overall. In this poll conducted after the 16-day government shutdown ended, 85 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress does its job - the highest percentage ever recorded since CBS began asking the question in 1977. Just 9 percent approve, matching the all-time low recorded two years ago.


Sixty-four percent of Americans are very concerned Congress will have difficulty reaching agreements on the debt ceiling and funding the government when 

faced with deadlines early next year . Concern is widespread, and even a majority (58 percent) of those who approve of the current agreement are very concerned about what will happen next year.

More broadly, 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.

Government, Direction of the Country

The poll finds disaffection with government generally too. Seventy-six percent don't think they have much say in what the government does - the highest number since 1990 when CBS News began asking this question.

Majorities of Republicans (87 percent), Democrats (68 percent) and independents (77 percent) all feel they don't have much say in what the government does. More than three in four tea party supporters agree.

Now, 72 percent of Americans think the country is off on the wrong track - up six points from before the shutdown and the highest percentage since December 2011. Only 23 percent think the country is headed in the right direction.


The Economy

Most Americans continue to view the condition of the national economy negatively. Two thirds think it is in bad shape; just 32 percent think it is good.

And there's more pessimism about the direction the economy is headed. Thirty-eight percent now think the economy is getting worse - up 11 points from last month and the highest number in nearly two years. Only 21 percent now feel the economy is improving; 41 percent say it is staying the same.


The economy and jobs remain the top concern for Americans (26 percent), but more are now concerned about the budget deficit and partisan politics then last month (12 percent now, 6 percent last month).

The Deal

The American public is divided on the  

agreement reached last week  to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government until early next year. Most Republicans (60 percent) and tea party supporters (62 percent) disapprove of the deal, while most Democrats (64 percent)approve. Among independents, half disapprove.

Furthermore, Americans disagree with making changes to the health care law in the debt ceiling and government funding agreement. Three in four say the health care law should have been separate from any agreement. Americans across the political spectrum hold this view.

Assessing Blame

As they did when the shutdown first began, more Americans blame the Republicans in Congress than blame Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress for the partial government shutdown and the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling. Nearly half (46 percent) blame the Republicans in Congress, while just over a third (35 percent) blames Barack Obama and the Democrats.

Blame continues to break down along party lines. Most Republicans (71 percent) blame Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, while Democrats blame the Republicans in Congress in even higher numbers (85 percent). Independents are divided.

While majorities of Americans think both sides were more concerned with political advantage than what was best for the country, more view the Republicans that way.

More Americans overall think the Republicans in Congress compromised their position too much (30 percent) than think so of President Obama and the Democrats (19 percent). Forty-one percent of Republicans say their own congressional delegation compromised too much; 18 percent of Democrats say Barack Obama and congressional Democrats did.