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New High: 75% Give Congress Poor Rating

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The news goes from bad to worse for Congress, as voters offer their sharpest criticism of the legislature to date.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just seven percent (7%) of Likely Voters rate the job Congress is doing as good or excellent. Seventy-five percent (75%) now say Congress is doing a poor job. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Poor marks for Congress are up five points from early October, just a few days in to the partial government shutdown and the rollout of the president’s health care law. This marks the legislative branch’s highest negative rating in more than seven years of regular tracking. Positive assessments of Congress are also down from nine percent (9%) last month, but have been in single digits for most of the year. 

Part of the problem may be that just 32% of voters think their representative in Congress is about the same as they are when it comes to political ideology. Twenty-six percent (26%) say their representative is more politically liberal than they are, while just as many (25%) say their representative is more conservative. This is a question voters have been closely divided on for years, but slightly more voters now consider their representative to be more politically conservative than they are.

As the country looks ahead to next year’s midterm elections, only eight percent (8%) believe most members of Congress almost always get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Most (67%) say they usually get reelected because election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents. One-in-four (25%) are undecided. Voters have expressed these sentiments consistently for years.

Fewer voters than ever think U.S. elections are fair. Just 10% think the average member of Congress listens to the voters he or she represents the most. 

If the next congressional election were held today, 78% would vote to get rid of the entire Congress and start over again.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 3-4, 2013 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.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters want a long-term federal budget that cuts spending, but 64% think Congress is unlikely to reach such a deal in time to avoid another government shutdown in January.

But members of Congress aren’t the only lawmakers voters are criticizing at the moment. President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped noticeably since the troubled debut of his signature health care legislation became top news.

Voters not affiliated with either major political party are even more critical of Congress than Democratic and Republican voters are, with 80% who give the legislators a poor rating. 

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of men rate Congress poorly, compared to 70% of women. 

Eighty-six percent (86%) of government workers now say Congress is doing a poor job, a near 20-point jump from last month. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of private sector workers agree, up seven points from the previous survey. 

Voters who have served in the military aim sharper criticism at Congress than those who haven’t served. 

Liberals are slightly more critical of Congress than moderates and conservatives are. 

Just 39% of all voters think most in Congress who voted to create the health care law knew what was in the law before they voted on it

Forty-six percent (46%) would vote for the Democratic Party to be in charge of the entire Congress if their vote in next year’s elections was the determining factor. Just as many (45%) would vote for the Republican Party to be totally in control.  Forty-seven percent (47%) think neither party represents the American people.

But Democrats continue to lead Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

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

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