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Congress’s Approval Up Slightly in New Term

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Voters are ever-so-slightly happier with the new Congress, although that’s not saying much.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think the current Congress is doing a good or excellent job, up from seven percent (7%) at the end of 2014 and the highest level of support since October 2012. It's the first time, in fact, that Congress' positive ratings have risen out of single digits in a year-and-a-half of monthly surveys. Fifty-eight percent (58%) still rate Congress poorly, but that's down nine points from a month ago and is a two-year low. (To see survey question wording, click here).

With Republicans now in charge of both the House and Senate, it's not surprising that GOP voters are much less critical than Democrats and those not affiliated with either of the major political parties.

However, voters still don’t have much faith that Congress is listening to them. Just 11% believe the average representative in Congress listens most to the voters he or she represents. Most (79%) think they listen to party leaders in Congress, consistent with regular findings since September 2010. Ten percent (10%) are not sure

And no matter how bad things are, 62% believe Congress can always find a way to make them worse, although that figure has been trending down for the past year. Just 24% disagree, but that's up five points from last October and the highest level of doubt in four-and-a-half years. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

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The survey of 800 Likely Voters was conducted on January 25-26, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 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 last November's midterm elections, voters are more confident in the fairness of U.S. elections than they have been in over two years.Most (59%) continue to believe members of Congress are almost always reelected because elections are rigged to benefit incumbents, but that's the lowest level of cynicism measured since May 2013.

Only 13% of voters think Congress has passed any legislation that will significantly improve life in America, in line with recent surveys. Seventy percent (70%) say they have not, while 17% are not sure.

This could be a problem since 57% now think passing good legislation is a more important role for Congress than preventing bad legislation from becoming law. This finding, too, has been trending up slowly over the past several years. Thirty-seven percent (37%) still believe it’s more important for Congress to prevent bad legislation, but that's consistent with regular surveying since late 2011.

Men and those 40 and over are more likely than women and younger voters to think Congress can always make a bad situation worse. Most Republicans agree, but not as strongly as Democrats and unaffiliated voters do.

Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats and 53% of unaffiliateds think it is more important for Congress to pass good legislation, while GOP voters by a 50% to 45% margin place more importance on preventing bad legislation from becoming law.

Taxes, spending, Obamacare and immigration top Congress’ to-do list as far as voters are concerned.

Voters are evenly divided when asked whether President Obama or the new Republican-led Congress should take the lead on issues important to the nation.

Voters already question whether the president and the new Congress will be able to work together and do what’s best for the American people. But 82% think it is more important for them to work together than to stand for what they believe in. 

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

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