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61% Still Think Congress Is Doing A Poor Job

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Congress in May earns its best marks this year, but that’s not saying much. Plus more voters than ever think most members of Congress cheat to get reelected.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) of Likely U.S. Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, but that’s up from six percent (6%) a month ago, its lowest positives since last June.  Sixty-one percent (61%) still rate Congress’ job performance as poor. That’s down only slightly from April but is the lowest finding since November 2012. A high of 75% gave Congress poor marks last November. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Only eight percent (8%) think most members of Congress get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Seventy percent (70%) say most get reelected because election rules are rigged to benefit members of Congress. That’s up four points from last month and the highest level of cynicism in five years of regular surveying. Twenty-three percent (23%) are undecided.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for cash or a campaign contribution, and 61% think it’s at least somewhat likely that their own representative in Congress has done so. That includes 30% who say it’s Very Likely their local member of Congress has sold his or her vote.

Belief that most members of Congress are for sale is down from a high of 70% in 2010, but voter doubt about their own representative is at a new high

Only 16% feel most members of Congress are not willing to sell their vote for cash or a campaign contribution, while another 22% are not sure. Twenty-six percent (26%) think their own member is unlikely to have sold out, but that includes only five percent (5%) who believe it’s Not At All Likely. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 19-20, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Just 22% of voters think their representative is the best person for the job, and only 29% believe he or she deserves reelection.  Both are new lows in surveying going back to November 2009.

Twenty-six percent (26%) believe their member in Congress is more liberal than they are, while just as many (27%) consider their local representative more conservative. Only 31% think their member of Congress is about the same as them ideologically. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

Republicans continue to see their representative as more liberal, while Democrats remain more likely to think he or she is more conservative. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 28% say their member of Congress is more liberal, 24% say more conservative, and 27% about the same.

GOP voters are less critical of Congress’ job performance than the others are, but even most Republicans think the legislators are doing a poor job. 

Most voters in all three groups think election rules are rigged to benefit Congress. They also believe most members are for sale, and that includes their local representative. Unaffiliated voters are the most skeptical, Republicans the least doubtful.

Voters who say they are part of the Tea Party give Congress slightly higher positives than those who are not part of the grass roots movement. But 56% of Tea Party voters think their local member is more liberal than they are, a view shared by just 22% of non-Tea Party voters.

Only 38% of the Political Class thinks Congress is doing a poor job, compared to 66% of Mainstream voters. But even Political Class voters tend to doubt Congress’ honesty, although they express a lot more confidence in their local representative than Mainstream voters do.

Most Republican voters think their representatives in Congress have lost touch with the party’s base over the last several years, while most Democrats believe their Congress members have done a good job representing what their party stands for.  

But more voters than ever (72%) think it would be better for the country if most members of Congress were defeated this November

Only 38% of voters think U.S. elections are fair, well below the all-time high of 57% who felt that way just before the last presidential election in October 2012. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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