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Congress Reaches New Depths of Popularity

 
 
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Wow, that is one unpopular Congress.

Congress faces historically low approval ratings as it wades into the debate over the $447 billion jobs package proposed by President Obama, with just 12 percent of Americans now approving of the way Congress is handling its job, matching its all-time low, recorded in October 2008 at the height of the economic crisis, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. [...]

Only 6 percent of registered voters say that most members of Congress have earned re-election, while 84 percent say it's time to give someone new a chance, a historic low for the New York Times/CBS poll.

Now, I suspect some on the right might suggest Congress is widely hated, but there's no reason to necessarily assume that's a reflection on Republicans or their agenda. It's a fair point. Democrats are ostensibly in the majority in the Senate, after all.

But while we wait for some of the details of the NYT/CBS poll, it looks like the GOP is feeling the brunt of the public backlash against Congress. Support for congressional Democrats is nine points higher than support for congressional Republicans, 28% to 19%. Obviously, Dems aren't exactly winning any popularity contests, but if GOP officials believe they're impressing the public with their post-midterm "leadership," they're delusional.

The Times piece didn't mention President Obama's approval rating, but I'd guess it's well over triple the support Congress enjoys.

The depths of public attitudes towards Congress could, in theory, have some political consequences. President Obama, for example, may start running against the do-nothing institution, trying to shift public blame in a more constructive direction.

Of course, if congressional Republicans, perhaps even motivated by self-interest, wanted to boost the institution's approval rating, they could do so rather easily -- they could work with Democrats on a jobs bill, among other things. It would work wonders for their poll numbers.

But we know that won't happen. The GOP's far-right base wouldn't tolerate it; Republicans wouldn't risk boosting the president's standing; conservatives don't understand the basics of economics anyway; and since the GOP wants to undermine Americans' confidence in public institutions anyway, it's inclined to reject job-creation efforts to advance the larger goal of pushing voters to give up on Washington altogether.

Still, less than a year after the Republicans' "wave" 2010 midterms, nothing says "buyers' remorse" like a 12% approval rating.

 

Washington Monthly / By Steve Benen | Sourced from

Posted at September 16, 2011, 4:16am

 
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