And negativity isn’t reserved only for the institution: just as many express unfavorable as well as favorable views of their own representatives (41 percent on each side). Overall, twice as many Americans have “strongly” negative views of their member of Congress than fiercely positive ones.
Political independents are the most clearly negative about their incumbent House representative in the poll conducted in the days before the deficit-reduction super-committee announced its failure to meet a deadline on identifying more than a trillion dollars in budget savings.
Republicans tilt positive toward their own representatives, by a 51 to 33 percent margin, while Democrats divide down the middle on those who represent the districts they live in (43 percent favorable; 43 percent unfavorable).
But Republicans and Democrats (and independents) alike are less sparing in their disdain for Congress as a whole.
Among all Americans, just 23 percent have favorable views of Congress; 69 percent unfavorable ones. On the favorable side, that’s the lowest number yet comparing the new poll to Pew Research Center polls since 1985. In the new poll, about seven in 10 across party lines express unfavorable views of Congress; staunchly negative views outnumber strongly positive ones by at least 7 to 1.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in early October found a mere 14 percent approving of the job Congress was doing, a record low in polls stretching back to 1974. Even at other times of low public approval of Congress, however, the legislative body’s favorable numbers were significantly higher.
For example, in the summer of 1994, congressional approval wallowed around 30 percent in Post-ABC polling while Pew had more than half of all Americans saying they viewed Congress favorably.
The poll was conducted Nov. 16 to 20 among a random national sample of 1,009 adults via conventional landline and cellular telephones. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.