Just 14 percent of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest poll. That is lower than just before the 1994, 2006 and 2010 elections, when the majority party was on the verge of losing power in the House.
For most it’s not just a casual dislike of Congress: Sixty-two percent say they “strongly disapprove” of congressional job performance. An additional 20 percent “somewhat” disapprove.
Only 3 percent of Americans said they “strongly approve” of the performance of lawmakers on Capitol Hill — essentially as low as possible, given the poll’s margin of error of four percentage points.
With Democrats running the Senate and Republicans in charge of the House, no group of voters is pleased. Just 18 percent of Democrats, 13 percent of independents and 13 percent of Republicans approve of Congress.
“Government right now, it’s so separated and so divided,” said Jason DeMello, 37, a registered Democrat in Haverhill, Mass. “As a normal, average American, it’s discouraging that these are the people leading the country.”
DeMello said he voted for Barack Obama and believes that the president needs more time to make the changes he promised, but he is losing faith in Congress.
“I remember when 9/11, that unfortunate day, you saw all the American flags hanging on houses,” he said. “And it went away. It went away so quickly. Where’s the patriotism? Everyone is out to bicker and argue instead of coming together.”
Aaron Grady, 18, of Slidell, La., said that “Congress is pretty hit-and-miss with me. A lot of the things they do are not right. And they get some things done that I can agree with.”
Grady, who is unemployed, did not name specific things that pleased or displeased him.
The public distaste for Congress follows a prolonged fight in July and August over increasing the government’s ability to borrow money. As part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, lawmakers agreed to find at least $1.2 trillion in savings or else have a comparable amount of cuts automatically made to domestic and defense spending over the next decade. A special bipartisan congressional committee is tasked with finding those savings.
That complicated arrangement, after months of private negotiations and public disputes, has left both Congress and the president politically wounded.
Obama’s overall approval rating slipped from 47 percent before the debt-ceiling debate to 42 percent now, with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance. A record low 35 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy.
But the president’s new jobs package, which is supported by a narrow majority of the public, has bolstered his position on the issue. He now holds a 49 to 34 percent advantage over congressional Republicans when it comes to the public’s trust on creating jobs. That is a change from September, when they were evenly split at 40 percent each.