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Congressional Performance

More Voters Think They’re On The Same Page with Congress

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Congress continues to earn slightly better marks than it has in quite awhile, perhaps because voters are a bit more likely to think they see eye-to-eye with their local representative.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That’s down from 16% last month which was its highest level of approval since August 2010.But still this is the third month in a row that Congress’ positives are in double digits, a level it hadn’t reached prior to that in nearly two years.

Most voters (56%) continue to view Congress’ job performance as poor, but before January, 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, GOP voters remain critical of the legislators but not as much as Democrats and unaffiliated voters are.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of all voters now say their representative in Congress is about the same as they are ideologically. That’s up five points from a month ago and the highest finding in regular surveying since December 2012.

Twenty-three percent (23%) consider their representative more liberal than they are, down slightly from past surveys, while essentially unchanged is the 28% who say he or she is more conservative. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 24-25, 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.

Voters remain almost evenly divided on the Generic Congressional Ballot as they have been for over a year now.

But voters, regardless of party affiliation, continue to question the honesty of Congress. Fifty-eight percent (58%) believe most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, although this is down slightly from past surveying. Just 16% disagree. Twenty-six percent (26%) are undecided.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) think it’s likely that their own representative in Congress has sold his or her vote for cash or a campaign contribution, with 28% who say it is Very Likely. Twenty-seven percent (27%) consider this unlikely, but only four percent (4%) say it’s Not At All Likely. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure. These findings are little changed from previous results.

Just 12% of voters feel most members of Congress get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Sixty-three percent (63%) think they get reelected because election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents. One-in-four (24%) is not sure. This, too, is slightly less skepticism than voters have expressed in the past.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of both Republicans and Democrats and 31% of unaffiliated voters say their congressional representative is about the same as they are ideologically.

Still, voters who feel they are on the same wavelength as their local representative are just as critical of their job performance. 

Separate surveying finds that 40% of GOP voters think their party’s average member of Congress is more liberal than they are. Just 25% think the average GOP legislator is more conservative, while the same number (25%) think the ideological positions of that member of Congress are about the same as theirs.

Among Democratic voters, 27% believe the average Democrat in Congress is more conservative than they are, but nearly as many (25%) regard them as being more liberal.   Thirty-five percent (35%) think the ideology of the average Democratic legislator and that of the average Democratic voter is about the same.

Just 17% of all voters are even somewhat confident that President Obama and Republicans in Congress will be able to work together to do what’s best for the American people.  

At the same time, 59% think Congress should continue to pass legislation that most of its members support even if the president is opposed.

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

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