Everybody Hates Congress

It would appear that the only people who have confidence in the United States Congress are the people who work there.

A new Gallup Poll shows that the United States Congress is less well-regarded than any other institution in the United States:

Only 11 percent of the country has confidence in the United States Congress, making it the lowest ranked institution in a new Gallup poll.

Among the 1,020 adults surveyed, Congress rates lower than banks, labor, big business and Health Maintenance Organizations.

The 11 percent who said they have faith in Congress is down 6 percentage points from mid June.

As it turns out, though, nearly every institution in the poll suffered some loss in confidence over the past year:

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that 89 percent of the public says it has no confidence in the body that is supposed to represent its interests in Washington, perhaps the most interesting number on the chart above is the drop in the public’s confidence in the Presidency. Obviously, this is partly influenced by the decline in Barack Obama’s popularity and approval ratings, but one wonders if it also means that the Presidency is headed in the same direction that the public’s confidence in Congress has gone:

It’s certainly understandable why the public would feel this way about Congress. What I have to wonder is what it means for our political system when the institutions of government are held in such high disregard.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, The Presidency, 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. Tano says:

    The problem is even deeper than the institutions. Americans basically can’t stand each other. It is therefore not surprising that a body which functions as the forum in which all Americans are represented, and can have their voices heard, would be wildly unpopular.

    Ironically, if the Congress is functioning well – if it is doing exactly the job it is intended to do, and effectively representing the population, and that population is riven with internal divisions, and gnawing antagonisms, then it should not be surprising that the institution becomes the obvious target of criticism. The better the job it does, the more it gives voice to the great diversity of perspectives that make up this country – and the more individual people find their own perspective drowned out.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    So what else is new? Congress has been collecting horrible ratings in these sort of polls for as long as I can remember.

  3. john personna says:

    I think the only group who truly comprehend the value and wisdom of Congress are the members themselves.

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***I think the only group who truly comprehend the value and wisdom of Congress are the members themselves.***

    lol, I’m not to sure about that but I’m sure they think they do or think are entitled to think they do…..

  5. Tano says:

    “I think the only group who truly comprehend the value and wisdom of Congress are the members themselves.”

    I disagree. I am not a member of Congress, and yet I think I comprehend its value and “wisdom”.
    It not only represents, it IS the functioning of American democracy. How do you expect such a system to work?

    Congresscritters are detestable worms, because they seem to always pander to voters rather than hold to any principles, but that is, after all, their job. Their job is, by design – by necessity under the principle of democracy – to represent the will of the people, not to represent some abstract philosophy.

    And the only possible way for a representative body of an incredibly diverse nation of 300 million people to function is to compromise – relentlessly. How else could it ever possibly work? Which means of course, that even if they tried to uphold “principles” they would necessarily have to bargain them away in order to get anything done.

    Its hard to avoid the sense that all these critics of Congress really are people who have no faith or loyalty to democracy itself. One really wonders how else they imagine a democratic process could work.