Congress’ Approval Even Lower Than Bush’s

As bad as President Bush’s approval ratings are, it could be worse: He could be Congress.

A new Gallup Poll finds continued low levels of public support for both Congress and President George W. Bush. Twenty-nine percent of Americans approve of Congress, down slightly from last month’s reading (33%) and this year’s high point of 37%, while Bush’s approval rating is holding steady at 33%. Both the ratings of Congress and the president are slightly lower than their respective 2007 averages.

Congress is seldom popular as an institution, of course, despite the fact that people re-elect their individual Members at an overwhelming rate. Still, one would think a change in party control in both Houses, especially since the new leadership is opposing an incredibly unpopular president and very unpopular war, would provide a little juice. Yet, four months into the new Congress, they’re only three points higher than the old Congress was the day they got trounced at the polls.

What’s even more telling is that “only 37% of Democrats approve of the job Congress is doing right now.” How much that’s a sign of frustration that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid have not been sufficiently radical or disappointment that their enthusiasm for fiscal responsibility ended about five minutes after taking control is unknown.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Public Opinion Polls, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Congress is seldom popular as an institution, of course, despite the fact that people re-elect their individual Members at an overwhelming rate.

    I question the use of the world “overwhelmingly’ in this context. True, those who DO vote tend to re-elect. However, I suggest a 30%-40% at BEST voter turnout can hardly be considered “verhwelming”approval.

  2. James Joyner says:

    “Overwhelming” modifies (election) rate, not approval. Re-election at a 90-plus percent clip certainly qualifies.

  3. Pug says:

    It’s always the other guy’s congressman we hate. Our guy is OK.

  4. Anderson says:

    I seem to recall that Pelosi’s personal rating is in the 40s, and thus higher than Bush’s.

  5. oldradus says:

    Bushbots should find no satisfaction in these numbers. The key reason Congress is less popular is that it hasn’t yet gotten us out of Iraq. Bush is like a turd on the sidewalk. Slightly disgusting, but it just lies there (and lies, and lies, and lies…). He is what he is. Congress, on the other hand, pledged to clean up the mess. But that pesky turd just won’t be cleaned up! So the public is momentarily more unhappy with congress because it hasn’t been anti-Bush enough! Upward of 30% of the people want impeachment; it’s almost as popular, some days actually more, than Bush! Me? I want him in there! He’s driving the repubs over a cliff and I say, Great!

  6. Bithead says:

    Bushbots should find no satisfaction in these numbers. The key reason Congress is less popular is that it hasn’t yet gotten us out of Iraq.

    (Chuckle)
    On the other hand, the numbers I’ve seen suggest the reason for their unpopualrity is due to their TRYING to surrender in Iraq.

    I seem to recall that Pelosi’s personal rating is in the 40s, and thus higher than Bush’s.

    Yeah, well, given the district involved…. (Chuckle)

    “Overwhelming” modifies (election) rate, not approval. Re-election at a 90-plus percent clip certainly qualifies.

    True.
    Hmmm. I guess the point I’m making is that re-election and approval are less than directly connected, even when you’re asking each question of the same people. And I doubt that’s the situation, here. I wonder how many of the people expressing dicontent actually voted? I’m willing to bet it’s not many.

    And there is a certain level of what Pug talks about going on here, but that’s a less than direct equation, too… As an example, I have Chuckles Schumer and Hillary Clinton as Senators. You don’t think I approve of that, do you really?

  7. daveinboca says:

    This is a story which the MSM will bury on page 17 below the fold. The Dems proved in no-time-flat that they are more corrupt than the Repubs, though the GOP Congress set a dauntingly high track record to overcome. But Pelosi’s greed and the unreported billion-dollar graft by Sen. Feinstein to her hubby’s firm [and let’s not forget Harry Reid and his in-house lobbyist kids] all combined to show Mitch McConnell and Tom DeLay that they were tyros in the peculation department.

    And let’s not forget Murtha and his brother Kit. Two real Irish mafia types.

  8. Steve Plunk says:

    How about accepting the fact we shouldn’t give a crap about these non-stop daily polls which really mean very little. Elections matter, polls don’t.

  9. Congressional Approval Down, Bush Holds Steady…

    A new Gallup Poll finds continued low levels of public support for both Congress and President George W. Bush. Twenty-nine percent of Americans approve of Congress, down slightly from last month’s reading (33%) and this year’s high point of 37%,……

  10. Tlaloc says:

    Rather than looking at single instance polls I suggest looking at aggregate data from multiple polling houses to minimize house effects. Pollster.com does this for you for both presidential approval and congressional approval:

    http://www.pollster.com/presbushapproval.php

    Bush has seen a small rise in approval over the last couple months but his aggregate approval is 34.8%

    http://www.pollster.com/ACongApprovalCurrent.php

    Congress on the other hand has risen sharply ever since the nov elections (when they were sub-30s) to an aggregate 36.9% approval today.

    All in all I’d rather be in Pelosi’s shoes- better approval and better trend.

  11. Tlaloc says:

    The Dems proved in no-time-flat that they are more corrupt than the Repubs, though the GOP Congress set a dauntingly high track record to overcome.

    Math quiz:
    A) How many dem congresscritters are currently under investigation/indicted/awaiting trial/incarcerated?

    B) How many rep congresscritters are currently under investigation/indicted/awaiting trial/incarcerated?

    C) Given the politicization of the DoJ in favor of republicans, assuming equal corruption between parties, shouldn’t A>>B? Given that A is actually much less than B what is the most logical conclusion about which party is more corrupt?

  12. Tano says:

    There are ususally polls that one can find to support ones wishes. As to the support for Congress, I would refer readers to pollster.com, which has on its front page a series of graphs of all polls for particular questions / candidates.

    According to their summary on this question, the average of Congressional support polls show 35.5% approval, and the trendline is consistently upward since the takeover.

  13. Tlaloc says:

    There are ususally polls that one can find to support ones wishes. As to the support for Congress, I would refer readers to pollster.com, which has on its front page a series of graphs of all polls for particular questions / candidates.

    Jinx! You owe me a coke.

  14. Math quiz:
    A) How many dem congresscritters are currently under investigation/indicted/awaiting trial/incarcerated?

    B) How many rep congresscritters are currently under investigation/indicted/awaiting trial/incarcerated?

    C) Given the politicization of the DoJ in favor of republicans, assuming equal corruption between parties, shouldn’t A>>B? Given that A is actually much less than B what is the most logical conclusion about which party is more corrupt?

    I think it’s more an indication of the fact that it makes more sense to bribe the majority party than the minority party.