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Congressional Performance

Are Voters Warming Up To Congress?

Friday, February 20, 2015

While ratings for Congress are still nothing to write home about, they are more positive than they’ve been in nearly five years. But most voters still think Congress is a bunch of sellouts.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 16% of Likely U.S. Voters think the current Congress is doing a good or excellent job, up from 11% in January and the highest level of approval measured since August 2010. Fifty-two percent (52%) still rate Congress poorly, but that’s down from 58% last month and is the lowest negative rating since June 2011. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Last month marked the first time that Congress' positive ratings had risen out of single digits in a year-and-a-half of monthly surveys. 

However, just 14% think members get reelected because they actually do a good job representing their constituents, although that’s the highest finding since tracking of this question began in April 2013. Sixty-seven percent (67%) think they're reelected because the election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents. A sizable 20% are not sure.

Most voters (62%) also continue to believe members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, but that’s down slightly from recent surveys. Eighteen percent (18%) disagree, and 21% are undecided.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) think it’s at least somewhat likely that their own representative in Congress already has sold his or her vote, up five points from November. Twenty-seven percent (27%) disagree. This includes 24% who say it’s Very Likely their representative has sold his or her vote and just six percent (6%) who think it’s Not At All Likely. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

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The survey of 800 Likely Voters was conducted on February 18-19, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters now believe most elected officials are much wealthier when they leave office than when they were first elected, and 55% think the average elected official is less ethical than the average U.S. voter.

Overall, 31% think their local congressional representative shares their ideology. Thirty percent (30%) think their local representative is more conservative than they are, up from 26% in November and the highest finding in regular tracking. Twenty-five percent (25%) think their local representative is more liberal than they are, showing no change from last month. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

With Republicans now in charge of both the House and Senate, it's not surprising that GOP voters are much less critical than Democrats and those not affiliated with either of the major political parties. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Republicans now say their representative shares their ideology, compared to 29% of Democrats and 28% of unaffiliated voters.

Men and voters 40 and over are more critical of Congress than women and younger voters are.

Forty-five percent (45%) of the Political Class think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, compared to just 12% of Mainstream voters. While an overwhelming majority (73%) of Mainstream voters think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for cash or campaign contributions, just 26% of Political Class voters agree.

Voters still don’t have much faith that Congress is listening to them. Just 11% believe the average representative in Congress listens most to the voters he or she represents. Sixty-six percent (66%) think most members of Congress don’t care what their constituents think, and 50% say their own representative doesn’t care what they think. 

Most voters, for example, have long favored across-the-board federal spending cuts across the board but think it’s unlikely cuts will actually happen 

Voters still view President Obama’s order exempting up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation as illegal and tend to think Congress should try to stop it. But they’re evenly divided over whether a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security is the way to do it.

Eighty-two percent (82%) think it is more important for the president and the GOP-led Congress to work together than to stand for what they believe in.

Voters continue to overwhelmingly favor term limits for members of Congress but don’t expect legislators to meet this demand.

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

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