Congressional Approval Rating At 14%

Once again, Congress finds itself with a sub-par approval rating:

PRINCETON, NJ — Americans give Congress a 14% job approval rating as the new year begins, the lowest since September of last year and down from 18% in November and December. The disapproval rating for Congress is 81%.

These results are based on a Jan. 7-10 Gallup poll, conducted about a week after Congress and the president agreed on legislation that avoided the end-of-year “fiscal cliff,” in part by pushing the deadline for mandated federal budget sequestrations to March 1.

Gallup poll earlier this month showed that Americans had a split reaction to the fiscal cliff agreement. But the same poll also showed that Americans gave low ratings to the way congressional leaders handled the negotiations, providing some explanation for the low rating of Congress in the current poll.

Additionally, three-quarters of Americans believe the “way politics works in Washington” is harmful to the United States, suggesting that Americans in general are very down on “business as usual” in the nation’s capital.

The lowest individual congressional job approval rating in Gallup’s history is 10%, measured in August of last year. The highest is 84%, measured in October 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And it turns out that the disdain for Congress is largely bipartisan:

Republicans’ approval of the job Congress is doing dropped to 6% in January, from 14% in December. This eight-percentage-point decline fits with the finding that rank-and-file Republicans had the most negative reactions to the fiscal cliff agreement reached at the end of the year. But Democrats’ approval of Congress dropped by a similar degree — six points, to 15% from 21%. Independents’ approval rating was more constant at 17%, compared to 19% in December.

You think it’s bad now, just wait a few weeks for the debt ceiling talk to start up again.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Who the hell are these idiot 14%?

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Had they taken that poll after Jan. 15th the approval number would have been lower. By then pretty much everyone out there in TV Land will have received their first paychecks for 2013 and actually seen the impact of the higher FICA taxes. Well, everyone who actually works on payroll, that is. For many others ignorance certainly is bliss.

    Incidentally, how many layers of irony are embodied in the fact that at present so-called “Independents” have the highest level of approval for this farce of a Congress? Loopy and clueless apparently are not limited to those who reside at the tail ends of the political Bell Curve. And of course the demographics of those who consider themselves “Independents” plays no small part in their collective out to lunch syndrome.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Alternate headline: congressional approval rises 40%.

  4. john personna says:

    All the more reason that Obama “needs” to “recognize the reality” and accede to their demands, eh Doug?

  5. mattb says:

    Again, here’s the formula:

    Gerrymandered districts +
    Primary system that rewards extreme partisanship +
    Most people will only vote for someone from their own party

    The American electoral system is fundamentally broken. And thus we get the Congress we deserve.

    And given that Doug and Steven have both written to this topic, why is anyone surprised at this news?

    Hell I’m willing to be that Congress can drop to a 10% approval rating and we’ll still see 90%+ of house members reelected.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Can you imagine if all 435 House seats were Republican?

    The approval rating would be zero percent, and the best part is none of the people who voted those guys in would have approved. Is this a used-to-be great country or what?

  7. Justinian says:

    Just a thought:

    In the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787, everyone in the room was talking about the “National Legislature” for over half the deliberations. “Congress” referred to that weak and feeble thing that they were convened to improve upon. Only later in the summer did people speak of “Congress” as the body they were proposing as the legislative part of the federal government, and of course “Congress” is the appellation that made its way into the final text.

    I propose we start calling Congress the “National Legislature,” just as people often refer to the President as the “Chief Executive” (another older form from the Constitutional Convention.) If we can get the members of the House and Senate to realize that they are legislators, maybe they will stop thinking of themselves as only so many Democrats and Republicans.

  8. D444 says:

    I approve of Congress. If you were to place a representative number of people from every Congressional District in the U.S. in a room together there would be the same fighting as we see in Congress today. America is a very polarized nation – the worst I’ve seen in years. And Congress is reflecting that polarization. Simply stated, they’re representing the views of the people that sent them there. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?

    There are some in Congress I would like to see leave, but I don’t have that option. I’m happy with my own Congressman, and apparently so are a lot of other people with theirs.