If you're reading this post right now, consider yourself a 20-percenter.
That is, you're likely among the 20 percent of Americans who say they follow news about national politics closely. You might be, for example, one of the 17 percent of Americans who can answer most of these questions correctly:
- Do you happen to know how many U.S. senators there are from each state?
- Would you happen to know which chamber of Congress — the House of Representatives or the Senate — is responsible for confirming federal judges?
- For how many years are members of the U.S. House of Representatives elected — that is, how many years are there in one term of office?
- Do you happen to know which political party — Democratic or Republican — currently has the most members in the U.S. House of Representatives?
- And do you happen to know the name of the majority leader in the U.S. Senate?
According to a newly released Gallup survey, if you got four out of five of those questions right (see answers below*), there is another category we can probably put you in: Someone who's very unhappy with Congress right now.
Gallup's pollsters asked Americans over two days in June those five questions, then they asked whether the respondents thought Congress was doing an excellent, fair or poor job legislating.
Turns out, the more you know about Congress, the more you dislike Congress. And the opposite is true too; according to Gallup's survey, the less you know about Congress, the less you dislike it.
We've known that Americans from both sides of the aisle have disliked Congress for a while now. Confidence in the legislative branch is at or near all-time lows, and Americans most recently gave Congress a 14 percent approval rating, which among the lowest since 2011, according to Gallup.
These findings suggest that Americans who denigrate their legislators aren't just making broad assumptions based on what they hear on the grapevine. They're following Washington's going-ons and coming to the conclusion the city is broken. And by contrast, Congress's biggest supporters are pretty clueless about what's actually going on.
This could suggest a more intractable problem for Congress, as Gallup's Frank Newport, Lydia Saad and Michael Traugott note. Lawmakers seem to have brought on their negative numbers via their actions, suggesting they're not going to be able to talk their way to a better approval rating.
It seems it will be even harder than you might think for Congress to regain its good name.
*Answers: 1) Two 2) the Senate 3) two 4) Republican 5) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Here's how you shape up with the rest of America: