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Congressional Performance

Voters Think Congress Cheats to Get Reelected

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Most voters still think Congress is doing a poor job and believe most of its members only get reelected because a fix is in.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just six percent (6%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, unchanged from a month ago. Sixty-five percent (65%) rate its performance as poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The number giving Congress good or excellent marks has been in single digits most months since April 2011. Congress' negatives spiked to a high of 75% last November during the disastrous rollout of the new health care law. 

Just eight percent (8%) of voters think most members of Congress get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Sixty-seven percent (67%) think it’s because election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents, but 25% are not sure. This, too, is unchanged in surveys since the beginning of last year.

Only 25% think their own member of Congress deserves reelection, the lowest finding in nearly five years.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters also still think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, and 59% think it’s likely their own representative already has. This includes 29% who say it’s Very Likely their local representative has sold his or her vote. This level of cynicism about their elected representatives hasn't changed in surveys since late 2012. 

Only 13% think most members of Congress are not for sale, but one-in-four (24%) are undecided. Twenty-four percent (24%) also don't think it's likely that their own member has sold his or her vote, but that includes just five percent (5%) who say it’s Not At All Likely. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 28-29, 2014 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.

House Speaker John Boehner remains Congress’ most unpopular leader, but both parties’ bosses in the Senate continue to operate below the radar for many voters.

Only 30% of voters think their local member of Congress sees eye-to-eye with them ideologically, a figure that has been edging down steadily in surveys since December 2012. Twenty-eight percent (28%) think their representative is more liberal than they are, while 25% think they’re more conservative. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. 

Interestingly, however, just 72% say they can name their U.S. representative in the House, while 74% say the same of their states’ U.S. senators. One-in-three (35%) are still unaware of whether their representative in Congress voted for the health care law.

Only nine percent (9%) of Americans feel most of their fellow citizens are informed voters.

Democrats are the most critical of Congress, although more than 60% of voters across the political spectrum think the legislators are doing a poor job. 

Republicans are most likely to think their representative is more liberal than they are. Democrats are most likely to think they’re more conservative. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 31% think their representative is more liberal than them, 25% think they’re more conservative, and 36% think they’re about the same ideologically.

Republicans are the least likely to think their own representative in Congress has sold a vote, although most voters in all three groups think it’s at least somewhat likely. 

Most Republican voters continue to believe that their representatives in Congress have lost touch with the party’s base over the last several years, while most Democrats believe their Congress members have done a good job representing what their party stands for.

Voters complain that their congressional representatives don't listen to them, but very few were likely to attend a local meeting held by any of those representatives during the August recess.

Roughly half of voters continue to believe that a randomly selected group of people from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress.

Republicans and Demcorats have been within two points of each other most weeks this year 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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