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Congressional Performance

Approval of Congress Falls Even Lower

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Republican-led Congress earns its lowest job approval marks this year, perhaps in part because of its failure to pass any major legislation. Most voters are steadfast in their opinion that the more important job for Congress is passing good laws rather than stopping bad ones.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 13% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That's down slightly from 15% in July but significantly lower than February’s 11-year high of 25%, just after President Trump took office and Republicans controlled both the presidency and the Congress for the first time in 10 years. Fifty-five percent (55%) now think Congress is doing a poor job, virtually unchanged from the previous survey. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Prior to February, those that gave Congress positive marks ranged from five percent (5%) to 23% in regular surveying since 2006.  In that same period, the percentage of voters who gave the legislators poor marks ran from a low of 35% in February 2007 to a high of 75% in November 2013.

Most voters (52%) still agree it is more important for Congress to pass good legislation than to prevent bad legislation from becoming law. Thirty-eight percent (38%) think preventing bad legislation is the more important role. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided. These findings have changed little over the last several years.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 21, 2017 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

Thinking ahead to next year’s midterm elections, 59% of voters believe it’s likely Republicans will lose control of Congress, and voters personally are leaning towards returning the Democrats to control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time since early 2011.

Republicans (23%) give the GOP-run Congress higher positives than Democrats (8%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (7%). Republicans are also the most likely to say the more important role for Congress is passing good legislation.

Men and those 40 and over are more likely than women and younger voters to believe passing good legislation is the more important role. But voters under 40 are less critical of the current Congress. 

Most blacks think it is more important for Congress to stop bad legislation from passing. The majority of whites and other minority voters disagree.

Twenty-one percent (21%) of voters who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing give Congress positive marks, compared to just three percent (3%) of those who Strongly Disapprove of the president's performance. Those who Strongly Approve of the president are also more likely to believe it’s more important for Congress to pass good legislation.

Congress is currently wrestling with the biggest reform of the U.S. tax code in decades, and 62% of all voters think it is important for Congress to pass a tax reform bill before the end of the year. But only 36% think it is even somewhat likely that Congress will make a big change in the tax code.

Just 16% want to leave Obamacare as is, but the Congress has fallen short several times this year in its efforts to change the health care law.

Only 32% believe their own representative to Congress is the best person for the job. But then most voters think Congress doesn’t listen to them anyway and is more interested in making the media happy.

Voters are more likely to believe Republicans in Congress are the bigger problem for Trump than Democrats are.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of GOP voters believe Republicans in Congress have lost touch with the party's base throughout the nation over the past several years. Democrats are more critical of their representatives, too, but 51% still think those representatives have done a good job maintaining the party’s values.

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

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