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Congressional Performance

Voters Like Their Own Congressmen More

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Congress’s ratings are still nothing to celebrate, but voters have a slightly more favorable opinion of their local representative.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 10% of Likely U.S. Voters rate Congress’s performance overall as good or excellent. That’s down from 12% in March and from an over three-year high of 16% in December.

Most voters (59%), however, still give Congress a poor rating, up three points from last month. Before January, though, this figure had regularly run in the 60s and low 70s since mid-2012.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

While Republicans now run both houses of Congress, a plurality of GOP voters remains critical of the legislators but not as much as Democrats and unaffiliated voters are.

Voters show more favor toward their own representatives than they do toward Congress as a whole. One-in-four (25%) say their local representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job, generally in line with the past two years. Forty percent (40%) disagree, the lowest level of unhappiness since March 2011. Thirty-five percent (35%) are not sure.

Slightly more (30%) think their local representative deserves to be reelected, while 37% disagree. Another 32% are undecided. That’s the first time support for reelection has hit the 30% mark since late 2013.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 3-4, 2015 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. 

Most voters continue to favor across-the-board spending cuts by the federal government, but more than ever don’t expect the government to oblige.

Just 18% of voters think most members of Congress care what their constituents think. Sixty-two percent (62%) do not, but that, too, is the lowest finding in a couple years. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided.

Voters are much more likely to say their local representative cares what they think (29%), another recent high. Fewer than ever (46%) disagree. One-in-four (25%) are not sure.

Republican voters are also slightly more supportive of their local representative than Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major political party are. GOP voters are more likely to say their representative deserves reelection.

Republican voters have long been more critical of their representatives in Congress than Democrats are. Only 24% of GOP voters believe Republicans in Congress have done a good job representing their party’s values. By comparison, 46% of Democrats say their members of Congress have done a good job representing Democratic values over the past several years.

Older voters are more critical of Congress as a whole than younger voters are, though they’re about equally supportive of their local representatives. Those under 40, though, are more likely to say most members of Congress, including their representative, care what constituents think.

They've all been reelected several times, but the top congressional leaders - John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell - remain an unpopular choice among voters nationwide.

Reid, who has been in office since 1987 and served as majority leader for eight years, has announced he will not seek reelection in 2016. A plurality (43%) of voters thinks it will be good for the country that the Nevada Democrat is stepping down.

Right now voters agree President Obama and the Republican-led Congress are problems for the presidential candidates of their respective political parties.

Republicans have led the Generic Congressional Ballot for seven out of the last nine weeks.

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

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