One month after a divided Congress came together to pass a bipartisan budget plan for the first time since the mid-1980s, the American people have rewarded their kumbaya moment by ... hating the two parties about as much as they did before.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows approval ratings for members in both parties are virtually unchanged. Thirty-four percent of Americans approve of Democrats in Congress -- the same as last month and as in March 2013 -- while 25 percent approve of congressional Republicans -- basically the same as it has been for two years.

Just 11 percent approve of Democrats "strongly," while 6 percent approve of Republicans strongly. Disapproval of each party is down slightly, but only by four points among Democrats (60 percent) and two points among Republicans (71 percent).

(The poll was conducted before a $1.1 trillion spending bill was unveiled on Monday and is expected to pass, it should be noted.)

So why, after Congress did something so out-of-character and productive, do the American people not reward it for breaking the cycle?

Well, probably because it was so out-of-character.

The fact is that this brand of bipartisanship is still the exception rather than the rule. Americans will need to see more before they'll believe that Congress is actually going to be coming together to pass legislation; and the current fight over long-term unemployment insurance shows Congress isn't exactly reformed.

Without this kind of real change, partisans from the opposite party and independents will remain skeptical of the Congress members from the two parties. And the polling shows they remain dug in.

Here's how that looks. First is a chart showing how Republicans and independents feel about Democrats in Congress:

And here's a chart showing how Democrats and independents feel about Republicans in Congress:

As you can see in both charts, cross-partisan and independent approval of each party remains near a 20-year low. That's because, despite Congress having come together for once, basically nobody is under any illusions that this is its new modus operandi.

Up until the Obama presidency, it was pretty common for more than 20 percent of Democrats to approve of congressional Republicans and at least 20 percent of Republicans to approve of congressional Democrats. Today, that seems like a pipe dream.

Until each side shows that it's able and willing to regularly work with the other -- something the GOP base, in particular, seems bent on preventing -- these partisans and independents are unlikely to be happy with both sides.

And Congress's reputation will continue to be in the gutter.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in his State of the State speech that "mistakes were clearly made."

David Jolly won the GOP nomination in Florida's 13th district special election.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) raised a whopping $12 million for her gubernatorial campaign.

Republican Dan Sullivan raised an impressive $1.3 million during the last three months of 2013 for his Alaska Senate campaign.

A judge ruled that Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) became the latest in a string of swing-district Democrats to retire.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is expected to announce Wednesday that he will run for a sixth term.

Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will headline a House GOP fundraiser.

President Obama hosted the Miami Heat.


"Christie faces speculation about aides’ real motives in New Jersey bridge scandal" -- Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, Washington Post

"Inside Boehner's Election-Year Immigration Strategy" -- Fawn Johnson, National Journal

Scott Clement contributed to this post