Opinions of Congress are a little better. They couldn’t get much worse.

December 17, 2013

The public is still fed up with Congress. But maybe rock bottom is behind them.

Congress's approval rating has ticked up since plunging to a record low in October, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows. The improvement comes on the heels of the bipartisan budget deal that lawmakers struck and that half of Americans say they like.

Sixteen percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing. That's up from the 12 percent who said the same thing in October on the heels of the government shutdown showdown.


Disapproval remains high, but intense dislike has retreated sharply. In October, 70 percent "strongly disapproved" of the job Congress was doing; it’s 59 percent now. That intense disapproval has dropped across the board, politically.

Overall, 81 percent say they disapprove of the job Congress is doing, compared with 85 percent who said the same thing in October.

The fact that the unpopular government shutdown is less fresh in the minds of Americans (time can heal some wounds in politics) seems to partly explain the increase in support for Congress. The budget plan that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reached could also explain the improvement. Fifty percent of Americans say they like the deal -- which looks to avert another shutdown -- including a clear majority of Democrats and a plurality of Republicans.


The plan has passed the House. It cleared a key procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday and is poised for final passage later this week.

Even with the modest public opinion gains Congress has made, it still has a long climb back to return to where it stood in recent decades. So what drives the the low regard in which most Americans hold Congress? Negativity toward to the opposing party plays a substantial role.

Fifty-three percent of those who approve of congressional Republicans still disapprove of Congress overall. Sixty-five percent of those who approve of Democrats in Congress disapprove of Congress overall.

That blame game has led to low numbers collectively for everyone serving on Capitol Hill.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.

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Chris Cillizza | December 17, 2013