The Washington Post

Congress is making a lot of history! (By being so unpopular)

A new Gallup poll released Thursday showed that public faith in Congress had reached historic lows in advance of the 2014 midterm election.


Even more historic is the fact that Congress's approval rating has reached historic lows at least 12 historic times since 2010. There are probably more historic lows, but we got depressed after counting to 12. We assume the next public opinion poll to find unprecedented contempt for Congress will carry the headline, "Public opinion in Congress reaches historic low. You won't believe what happens next. Except you probably will because it is just going to keep sinking forever."

In December 2013, Gallup found that approval of Congress was at a historic annual low.

In November 2013, an Economist/YouGov poll found that public approval of Congress had reached a historic 6 percent.

An October 2013 poll from Public Policy Polling found that Americans liked Congress better than Ebola and twerking, but not much else. Oh yeah, the government also shut down in October.

In September 2013, Congress stepped it up and was only near historic lows.

Oh wait. Other pollsters found that Congress' approval rating was at a historic low in September.

In December 2012, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that public approval was 9 percent. It was, you guessed it, a historic low.

In August 2012, a historic low of 10 percent approval was reached. Unaware that there were many more historic lows to come, news organizations were inserting  an exasperated again  in headlines. Yes, we still have a few more stops on the historic low tour.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll from January 2012 found historically low approval for Congress by their measurements. This was after the payroll tax cut debacle, yet before the debt-ceiling fight. As you can see, the debt-ceiling fight did not allow Congress's approval rating to make a historic comeback.

In August 2011, Gallup found that approval ratings in Congress had reached a historic tie with historic lows.

The same historic tie was found a few months earlier in May 2011. Congress's historic lows were not to budge.

In December 2011, Congress was at a historic low of 11 percent approval. A pollster at Gallup told Politico“2011 will be remembered as the year when the public held a very negative outlook on the economy and views on government officials." If they only knew what was to come! It turns out historic lows aren't very memorable if they are only historic for a few weeks.

In December 2010, only 13 percent of Americans approved of Congress. In retrospect, that wasn't too bad, given the history heaped upon the numbers in the time since has dragged them down so much.

In short, it may be a good time to remind Congress that historic is not a synonym for awesome.

Although it may not matter, given the low turnout that will likely greet this year's midterm elections. In many of the primaries that have already concluded, turnout was even lower than it was in 2010. Discontent with Congress hasn't spurred people to action. It has lulled them into apathy.

The historic lows don't look like they're about to stop anytime soon.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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