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Is Congress for Sale?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Voters think most members of Congress do a lousy job and probably have sold their vote for cash or to a contributor. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 13% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job overall, while 56% rate the current Congress poorly. That’s little changed from recent months but is up from seven percent (7%) approval a year ago. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Positive reviews for Congress inched up to double digits in January 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 with the arrival of the new Republican-led Congress after generally running in the 60s and 70s since mid-2011.

Just 14% think member of Congress almost always get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Sixty-five percent (65%) think it’s because the election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents, in line with past surveying. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of 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. That includes 26% who think it’s Very Likely their representative has sold his or her vote. This has changed little in surveys since late 2012.

Only 16% don’t think most members of Congress would sell their vote, and 25% are undecided. Twenty-eight percent (28%) don’t think it’s likely their own representative has sold his or her vote, but only five percent (5%) say it's Not At All Likely. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 6-7, 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. 

Just 31% of voters think their local congressional representative agrees with them ideologically. Twenty-eight percent (28%) say their representative is more liberal than they are, while 29% believe he or she is more conservative. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

Voters from both major parties give Congress low marks, but those not affiliated with either party are most critical. 

Republicans are more likely to think their representative is more liberal than they are, while Democrats see that representative as more conservative.

Voters across the political board think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote, though unaffiliateds believe that the strongest. Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters are in equal agreement though that their own representative already has sold out. 

Men feel more strongly than women do that Congress is for sale.

Only one-in-four (25%) of all voters say their local representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job, and slightly more (30%) think their local representative deserves to be reelected. 

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

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

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