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8% Think Congress Doing a Good or Excellent Job

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

As Congress returns to Washington, its performance reviews remain in the cellar, and more voters than ever think it’s capable of making a bad situation worse.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only eight percent (8%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Sixty-six percent (66%) rate its performance as poor, but that’s a noticeable improvement from 75% in November, Congress’ highest negative in seven years of regular surveying. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Congress' positive ratings bottomed out at five percent (5%) in late December 2012 but were only slightly higher all of last year.

It doesn’t help that 69% think no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse. That’s up four points from 65% in October and the highest finding in surveys for over three years. Just 17% disagree, with 14% more not sure.

Most voters (55%) think there will be a noticeable change in the lives of most Americans if Democrats win control of both the House and Senate in this November’s elections. Slightly fewer voters (49%) feel there will be a noticeable change in their lives if Republicans win control of Congress instead.

Only about two-out-of-three voters are now aware that Republicans control the House and Democrats have the majority in the Senate. Fifteen percent (15%) think the House is doing a good or excellent job, while 13% say the same of the Senate.

Just 16% of voters think Congress over the past year has passed any legislation that will significantly improve life in America. Sixty-seven percent (67%) say it has not passed any such legislation. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. The current legislators have been criticized as a “do-nothing Congress,” but voters give them higher marks this month for passing significant legislation than they have in well over a year.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 5-6, 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.

Following the disastrous rollout of the new national health care law in October, President Obama earned some of the lowest daily job approval ratings of his entire presidency, but those numbers began to improve in December.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters think it’s more important for Congress to pass good legislation than it is to prevent bad legislation from becoming law. Thirty-six percent (36%) take the opposite tack and think preventing bad law is more important. That’s consistent with voter attitudes for the past couple years.

Similarly unchanged from past surveys is the view that most members of Congress don’t care what their constituents think. Only 12% think most members listen most to the voters they represent. Seventy-eight percent (78%) believe they listen most to their party leaders in Congress. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure who they listen to most.

Just 17% believe most members of Congress care what their constituents think. Only 24% think their representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job.

There’s general partisan agreement about the caliber of Congress’ job performance, but Democrats are the most critical. There’s similar agreement when it comes to Congress’ ability to make things worse.

But there’s a clear partisan difference of opinion when it comes to measuring Congress’ performance. Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats and 53% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties think it’s more important for Congress to pass good legislation, but 57% of GOP voters feel it’s more important for the legislators to stop bad legislation from becoming law.

Voters continue to say the economy and health care are the most important issues when it comes to how they will vote in the next congressional election.

Voters trust Republicans more when it comes to the economy, health care, the War on Terror, immigration, taxes, Social Security, job creation, issues affecting small business and government spending. Democrats earn more trust when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, energy, education, the environment and gun control. The two parties run even when it comes to government ethics and corruption.

Democrats now lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot – 40% to 38% - for the first time since late November.

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

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We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

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