Approval Of Congress Rises To 21%
Congressional approval has been at historic lows for years now, but just in the last month it has risen to levels unseen in more than a year:
PRINCETON, NJ — Twenty-one percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, higher than the 13% Gallup measured in September, and the highest rating in any month since May 2011.
The more positive evaluation of Congress could be a delayed reaction to the same factors that brought about improvement in Americans’ — and in particular Democrats’ — views of national conditions in September.Satisfaction with the United States and economic confidence increased significantly in September, mainly because of Democrats’ more positive ratings, before leveling off in October. The increases in satisfaction and economic confidence were apparent in the days after the Democratic National Convention at which the party nominated President Barack Obama as its presidential candidate as he seeks a second term in office.
In contrast, congressional approval rose modestly in September – to 13% from 10% in August — before this month’s more substantial increase.
Supporting the thesis that changes in Democrats’ views are driving the improvements in many national indicators, Democrats have shown the greatest increase in their evaluations of Congress this past month, to 30% from 16% approval. Independents’ and Republicans’ ratings are up more modestly, by eight percentage points (to 20% from 12%) and four points (to 14% from 10%), respectively.
Gallup does go on to point out that low Congressional job approval prior to a Presidential or Mid-Term Election has been associated with high turnover in the House of Representatives. The last time Congressional job approval was at 21%, in act, was just prior to the 2010 Mid-Terms which resulted in a historic turnover of 63 seats and the transfer of control from the Democrats to the Republicans. That doesn’t seem to be likely to happen this time, though. The parties are relatively even in the Generic Congressional Ballot, which tends to favor incumbents of both parties. Additionally, the current projection of the distribution of the House after the election makes a Democratic takeover seem impossible. Finally, there isn’t a single analyst who looks at this things who thinks the House is up for grabs this time. A seat or two may change parties, but the GOP is going to retain control of the House regardless of what happens further up the ballot.
The interesting question is why Congressional job approval has taken this up tick recently. After all, it’s not like Congress has actually done anything recently that would warrant a higher job approval rating. Part of it could be what Gallup suggests, that voters are more optimistic about the state of the country and this is causing them to view institutions of government more positively. It could also be that being in an election cycle as we are now has the effect of making people feel better about the political system, although that seems counter-intuitive. If you’re cynical, though, there’s another explanation that might make more sense:
One Hill staffer offered an alternative theory. “It’s because we’re not in session,” the aide told The Washington Examiner. Neither the Senate nor the House has been in session since September 21st, when Congress’s approval rating was 13 percent. (It was even lower in August, per Gallup, which recorded it at 10 percent.) Congress will return for the lame-duck session after the election.
Congress is truly doing nothing, this month, and the American people seem fine with it.
Well, it is generally better than the alternative.