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Voters Still Say Congress Is For Sale

Monday, February 22, 2016

Positive reviews of Congress just barely crack double-digits this month, while voters continue to believe that most representatives - including their own - are selling their votes.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That’s up slightly from nine percent (9%) in the previous two surveys which was the lowest positive rating since the start of the new Republican-led Congress in January of last year. Sixty percent (60%) say Congress is doing a poor job, showing little change from the previous survey and generally in line with findings over the past year. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

When the new Congress arrived last year, positive reviews inched up to double digits for the first time in over two years and hit a recent high of 16% that February. The percentage of voters giving the legislators poor marks dropped into the 50s during the early months of 2015 after generally running in the 60s and 70s since mid-2011.

Now, however, voters including members of their own party aren’t pleased with the Republicans’ control of both chambers of Congress this past year.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all voters think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, and the same percentage (61%) thinks it’s likely their own representative has already done so. That includes 30% who think it’s Very Likely their representative has sold his or her vote which ties the highest finding in surveys since 2012.

Only 17% don’t think most members of Congress would sell their vote, but a sizable 22% are undecided. Twenty-six percent (26%) don’t think it’s likely their own representative has sold his or her vote, but only seven percent (7%) say it's Not At All Likely. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 17-18, 2016 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.

Voters in past surveys have said that the wealthiest individuals and companies, as well as wealthy special interest groups, have too much influence over government decisions. Most also say these wealthy interests have too much influence over elections.

Majorities of voters across most demographic groups give Congress poor marks and say most representatives sell their votes.

Just six percent (6%) of voters not affiliated with either major political party think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, compared to 13% of both Republicans and Democrats. GOP voters are only slightly less likely than the others to give Congress a poor rating.

Unaffiliated voters feel the most strongly that most members of Congress are willing to sell a vote and that their only representative has likely done so. Democrats are the least convinced that their local representative is on the take.

Voters under 40 are slightly less critical of Congress compared to their elders, but they are just as likely to think most members are willing to sell votes.

Self-described politically liberal voters are the most critical of Congress, but over 50% of moderate and conservative voters agree the legislature is doing a poor job.

Only nine percent (9%) of all voters think the average member of Congress listens to the voters he or she represents the most. Seventy-seven percent (77%) think the average member listens mostly to party leaders in Congress. 

Fifty-four percent (54%) feel that the Republican-led Congress’ record will hurt the GOP nominee for president this year. Even among Republicans, just 20% think the GOP Congress’ record will help their party’s candidate, compared to 39% who say it will hurt the candidate instead.

Voters want the Republican-led Congress and President Obama to work together, and they're far more likely to blame Congress than the president for preventing that from happening.

Yet while voters don’t much care for the job Congress is doing, they still strongly believe the president needs congressional approval before taking action on the major issues facing the nation.

The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has set off a political battle over who should get to nominate his replacement. Only 27% of voters think it’s even somewhat likely that the Republican–controlled Senate will confirm any candidate President Obama nominates to replace Scalia.

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

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