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13% Give Senate Positive Marks, 15% Say Same of the House

Friday, December 20, 2013

The bad news for Congress is that most voters think both the Senate and the House of Representatives are doing a lousy job. The good news for them is that a surprising number don’t know which party controls each of the respective chambers.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 15% think the House is doing a good or excellent job, while 52% rate its performance as poor.

Similarly, only 13% give the Senate good or excellent marks for its job performance. Fifty-one percent (51%) think the senators are doing a poor job. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings have changed little since early March despite Congress’ passage in recent days of a bipartisan budget plan that avoids another federal government shutdown in January. But, after all, only seven percent (7%) of voters think Congress as a whole is doing a good or excellent job, while 74% rate its performance as poor.

Only 62% of voters, however, recognize that Republicans control the House, down from 71% in the earlier survey. Sixty-six percent (66%) know that Democrats are the majority in the Senate, unchanged from March. Eighteen percent (18%) incorrectly think Democrats run the House, while 16% think the GOP is in charge in the Senate. Another 18% to 20% are not sure.

This lack of voter awareness is perhaps no surprise given that more than one-third (35%) of voters are not sure if their representative in Congress voted for or against the new national health care law. No Republican in either chamber voted for Obamacare.

But voters are now more closely divided when asked if it is better to have one-party rule in Congress. Thirty-two percent (32%) think it is better when one party controls both the House and the Senate. Slightly more (39%) still believe it is better when each chamber is controlled by a different party, but that’s down from 47% in March. A sizable 28%, though, is undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on December 18-19, 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.

Republicans and Democrats are now tied on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

GOP voters are more critical of their legislators than Democrats are. Only 19% of Republicans think the GOP-led House is doing a good or excellent job, compared to 16% of Democrats and 10% of unaffiliated voters.

But 25% of Democrats think the Democratic-run Senate is doing a good or excellent job, compared to just six percent (6%) of Republicans and eight percent (8%) of unaffiliateds.

Voters in all three groups share similar levels of awareness of which political party runs which congressional chamber. Democrats are more enthusiastic supporters of one party running both the House and Senate than Republicans and unaffiliated voters are.

Men are much more aware than women of which political party is in charge of the House and Senate. Women are also less critical of both chambers than men are.

Voters who served in the military are more aware than those who have not been in uniform of which party controls which chamber. Veterans are also more critical of the jobs the House and Senate are doing.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all voters favor a federal budget that cuts spending, but they’re closely divided over the new budget deal that restores some of the across-the-board sequester spending cuts from earlier this year. The deal includes no new taxes but does add some user fees.

Only 22% believe additional tax hikes are needed to fund the federal government.

Voters trust Republicans more when it comes to the economy and eight more of the 15 major issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports - the War on Terror, immigration, taxes, health care, 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.

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

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