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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:10 PM ET, 07/15/2008

The Congressional Approval Limbo

How low can it go? Just 23 percent in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll approve of the job the nation's legislative body has done. More than seven in 10 disapprove. Overall, this is the worst assessment in Post-ABC polling since just before the Republicans took control in 1994.

Neither party's caucus fares particularly well in the poll - 35 percent approve of the majority Democrats while 25 percent approve of the GOP's congressional delegation - but there are some signs that Republicans face greater internal dissention than their Democratic counterparts.

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Congressional Job Approval

The Post-ABC poll is not alone in measuring record lows for congressional approval. The Associated Press-Ipsos poll released yesterday found just 18 percent approval for the legislative body and a Gallup survey out today recorded approval at 14 percent - that's the lowest level in 34 years of Gallup polling on the topic.

Just 21 percent of independents in the new Post-ABC poll approve of the Congress as a whole, about half what it was in April 2007. It is not substantially better among Democrats (23 percent) or Republicans (25 percent), and both measures are down from the 100-day mark, when 55 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans approved.

Displeasure with Congress spans ideological leanings, with 68 percent of liberals, 70 percent of moderates and 74 percent of conservatives disapproving of the job the legislative branch has done. Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have equally low regard for the branch, only about a quarter of each group approves of Congress.

Assessing members on both sides of the aisle, Republicans fare worse than the majority Democrats. At 69 percent, disapproval of Republicans in Congress is at its highest level since Post-ABC polling began measuring the figure in 1994. The 57 percent who disapprove of the job Democrats are doing nearly matches their all-time high of 60 notched in April 2005.

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Approval of Democrats in Congress

Now

April 2007

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Approval of Republicans in Congress

Now

April 2007

But approval for both parties has slipped since the beginning of this session, with Democrats tumbling from 54 percent approval around the 100-day-mark of the 110th Congress, and Republicans down from 39 percent in mid-April 2007.

Democrats in Congress still get majority approval from their own partisans, 54 percent say they approve, but a majority of Republicans - including a majority of the conservative Republicans who form the base of the party - now disapprove of the GOP's congressional caucus. Fifty-three percent of GOPers disapprove of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, the highest level in Post-ABC polling. The previous peak was 46 percent in October of 1994.

The GOP gets lower marks from those who disapprove of Congress in general than do the Democrats; 83 percent of congressional disapprovers also disapprove of the GOP, 73 percent disapprove of the Democrats.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  07:10 PM ET, 07/15/2008

Categories:  Post Polls

 
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