The (un)popularity of Congress

So is it fair that Congress is so unpopular?  What could/should Congress do to improve its image?

Congress Less Popular than Cockroaches, Traffic Jams

Raleigh, N.C. – Facing low approval ratings after a historically unproductive 112th session and a series of last-minute showdowns over fiscal matters, Congress is now less popular than root canals, NFL replacement referees, head lice, the rock band Nickelback, colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, Donald Trump, France, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and Brussel sprouts.

When asked if they have a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things, voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34- 37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen (32-57), and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress.

Congress did manage to beat out telemarketers (45-35), John Edwards (45-29), the Kardashians (49-36), lobbyists (48-30), North Korea (61-26), the ebola virus (53-25), Lindsay Lohan (45-41), Fidel Castro (54-32), playground bullies (43-38), meth labs (60- 21), communism (57-23), and gonorrhea (53-28).

Congress’s overall favorability rating stands at just 9% favorable and 85% unfavorable. Women (13-81) view Congress slightly more favorably than men (6-89), as do Democrats (13-82) than Republicans (9-87), perhaps reflecting Democrats’ higher level of satisfaction with the recent fiscal cliff deal. Among ideological groups voters who describe themselves as “very liberal” have a higher than single-digit approval rating, with 36% holding a favorable view and 56% unfavorable.

“We all know Congress is unpopular,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But the fact that voters like it even less than cockroaches, lice, and Genghis Khan really shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public over the last few weeks.”

PPP surveyed 830 American voters from January 3rd to 6th. The margin of error is +/-3.4 percentage points. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.

14 responses to “The (un)popularity of Congress”

  1. Adam7 says :

    This article inadvertently does a lot to explain the proliferation of pork barrel spending. If as a Representative you can’t run for re-election on your record, or on your constituents’ general sunny disposition toward “the way things are,” your only hope is to bring home the bacon.

  2. 4thomas says :

    American people and society love getting things done. Our entire economy is based on getting products and work done as efficiently and quickly as possible. Congress fails to meet the american people’s expectation for getting things done, which leads to a high disapproval rating.

  3. 4thomas says :

    (I accidently sent the last one without finishing it) continued: Although I believe America could benefit from having a congress with more moderates and compromise, the american people fail to recognize that our fore fathers intended for congress to be relatively slow and difficult. Although congress could improve in many aspects, it does not deserve to be as unpopular as it is.

  4. emmar4 says :

    I agree with Tom; people see the slow-moving Congress as inefficiency, but that is how the system was built. I do think, though, that promoting compromise is an important way Congress could raise its ratings. Even if the rate of productivity is still slow, when people see that more Congressmen are crossing party lines and are willing to compromise, Congress would become more popular.

  5. megweck1 says :

    This article outlines gridlock in Congress- our discussions have brought to light many issues in Congress from the filibuster to pork barrel spending. However, it is a general opinion that Congress is to be disliked- most people don’t know much about Congress, and may therefore have simply chosen the option they were more familiar with, be it Nickelback or Donald Trump. So this article may also be about polling in general- it might have been worthwhile to ask a few questions testing knowledge of Congress in general as well.

  6. Tanya4 says :

    This article is illustrating the unpopularity that congress faces, however it does not acknowledge that fact that individual representatives have a much higher approval rating than congress as a body does. Because representatives are working to get re-elected around the clock, they are concentrated on helping their districts to improve their chances. This leads to inefficiency in congress, pork barrel spending, and gridlock. Thus I do think it is fair that congress has low overall ratings. When the american people dont feel like things are getting done, they are probably correct in their assumption. This could also be attributed to partisan gridlock.

  7. Carolyn4 says :

    The low approval rating of congress is likely due to its inefficiency. Over the past two years, we have seen near policy gridlock. The 112th congress passed merely 220 public laws, which is the all time record low for congress. It was blatantly clear to the public how inefficient congress was, as we saw with the fiscal cliff issue. No clear compromise could be made between the two stubborn parties. For the 113th congress, I think that strong leadership and willingness to compromise will be the only two things that could raise the approval rating. The American people are looking for progress, and it is true from history that the only way any legislation has ever been passed has come from a comprise. A more compromising congress will lead to a more efficient congress, which will lead to a more well-liked congress.

  8. nicoleb7 says :

    I think congresses approval ratings these days accurately represent their effectiveness when dealing with the issues presented to them. The fact that they are constantly in a dead lock leads people to get discouraged that they cannot get anything done. I think if congresses learned how to compromise and make decisions on pressing issues their approval rating would go up. I understand how difficult it is to compromise, but some people have to rise to the occasion and maybe do something they don’t want to do in order to get anything done at all.

  9. thetuck1 says :

    This article makes it obvious that there is a lot of gridlock in congress, and we know that the process of getting things done, so to speak, takes a lot of time. It is like Tom said: people expect congress to pass bills and create policy quickly, but swiftness does not necessarily mean effectiveness. It is impossible to avoid gridlock, because politics is inherently controversial. It is very difficult to reach compromise, but the assumption is that when it is finally reached, the results are to the great benefit of the country. Consider a piece of writing. The first draft is never better than the second draft, which is never better than the third. The more time you spend working trying to improve a piece of writing, the closer it gets to perfection. I would imagine that congress works in a similar manner. If massive conflict and a great amount of time is what it takes for a bill to get as close to perfection as it can, so be it.

  10. natesa1 says :

    I do think that it is fair that Congress is unpopular with public, because Congress doesn’t do their job which is make decisions. If Congress met and passed laws like they were expected to do, their approval ratings would go up in my opinion. Congress approval ratings represent their inefficiency, they are always stalling when it comes to the issues that come to them. If anyone feels as though it is unfair that people don’t approve of Congress they should take into consideration what Congress has done recently, which is very little.

  11. benjamin1 says :

    A great deal of the blame for the ineffectiveness of Congress is due to the system. Certainly the members are not excused, and ought to be held accountable for not being able to compromise, but the process of election and reelection, coupled with overpowered parties, is too corrupted to expect much from those who have come to power by it.

  12. Naiyah1 says :

    I think it is fair that people are so critical of Congress. The members have brought this unpopularity on themselves with not only their inefficiency, but also their constant bipartisan bickering. The purpose of Congress is to pass laws for the American people, not push their own party’s agenda. It is possible that Congress could pass legislation to repair the current system, but because of their inability to come together, it will probably not happen.

  13. jack7 says :

    It is interesting to see how low congress approval ratings are when ratings for individual congressman in their districts are so high. This is clearly an example of pork barrel spending has taken over congress. Everytime a piece of legislation is introduced, it seems like the first priority of any congressman is to make sure he or she brings home the bacon to his or her constituents, so they can run on their record come reelection time. This decreases the efficiency and the tension in congress, because each representative has their own interests at heart.

  14. Kalyn7 says :

    I think this rating is totally fair. Congress has become about partisanship as opposed to creating progressive legislation to help Americans. And people are frustrated. I’m frustrated.
    The fact that approval ratings of individual representatives are so high show us two things. The first being that pork is effective if the objective is to get reelected. The second is that people have a mindset that they are not the problem. That there is no way that MY representative is holding things up in Congress. But all of our representatives are the problem. Until we collectively decide that our representatives must compromise, we’ll continue to be frustrated with our legislature. And rightfully so.

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