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Congressional Performance

Hate Congress, Love Your Congressman? Not Quite

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ratings for Congress’ overall performance have dipped, but voters are a bit more positive about their local representatives.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job overall, while 63% rate the current Congress poorly. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Those are the worst ratings since the arrival of the new Republican-led Congress in January.  Positive reviews for Congress at that time inched up to double digits for the first time in over two years and hit a recent high of 16% in February. The percentage of voters giving the legislators poor marks dropped into the 50s earlier this year after generally running in the 60s and 70s since mid-2011.

Just 26% of voters think their own representative is the best possible person for the job. That’s up only slightly from 24% last December  but is the highest finding since March 2011.  A plurality (44%) continues to think their representative isn’t the best possible person for the job, but a sizable 30% are not sure.

One-in-three voters (33%) now think their representative in Congress deserves reelection. That's also not too impressive, but it's up seven points from the previous survey and also the highest finding in two years. Forty-two percent (42%) say their representative does not merit being reelected, and 26% are undecided.

While just 18% think most congressmen care what their constituents think, 31% say that of their own representative. That’s the highest level of confidence voters have shown in their own representatives in nearly three years of regular tracking. Still, nearly half (47%) say their representative doesn’t care what they think, but that compares to 68% who say that of most members of Congress.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 8-9, 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.

Only 14%of voters think members of Congress almost always get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents, while 65% think it’s because the election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents. Just 31% of voters think their local congressional representative agrees with them ideologically.

Sixteen percent (16%) of Democrats give positive ratings to Congress’ performance, compared to just nine percent (9%) of Republicans and three percent (3%) of voters not affiliated with either party.

Republicans and Democrats are more likely than unaffiliated voters to believe their own representative deserves reelection and that he or she cares what constituents think.

Voters under 40 are less critical of Congress compared to their elders.

Among voters who give Congress poor marks for its overall performance, 27% still think their own representative deserves reelection, but 50% disagree.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all voters think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, and 56% think it’s likely their own representative has already done so.

Just over half (51%) still believe it is more important for Congress to pass good legislation as opposed to preventing bad legislation from becoming law.

Most voters still think Congress needs to approve any deal with Iran before it goes into effect, but only 32% want their congressional representatives to approve the plan the administration has negotiated

President Obama and Congress don’t agree on much, but just 22% of voters think that's due mostly to honest differences of opinion. Seventy percent (70%) believe instead that the opposition is mostly due to partisan politics

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

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