Job Ratings for Congress Stay Near Historical Lows

NEW YORK , N.Y. – February 21, 2012 – In the past month, President Obama has seen his re-election chances get slightly better and his approval ratings have gone up . The mood of the country has also become more optimistic. But, for all this, one thing remains the same – Congress’ job approval is still at historic lows. Just 7% of Americans give the overall job Congress is doing positive ratings while 93% give them negative ratings. Last month 6% of U.S. adults gave Congress positive ratings while 94% gave Congress negative marks. Interestingly, the last time their job rating was over 10% positive was in June of last year and the last time it was over 20% was in August of 2009.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,056 adults surveyed online between February 6 and 13, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

It is slightly better for individual members of Congress. When asked how they would rate the overall job their Member of Congress is doing, one-quarter of Americans (23%) give their Representative positive ratings, but almost two-thirds (64%) give them negative ratings while just over one in ten (13%) say they are not familiar enough with their Member of Congress to rate them. Three in ten Republicans (29%) rate their Member of Congress positively compared to one-quarter of Democrats (25%) and one in five Independents (19%).

Looking ahead to November, right now the question of who will control Congress’ two houses is a good one. If the election for Congress were being held today, 38% of registered voters would vote for the Democratic candidate and 35% would vote for the Republican candidate; 6% would vote for another candidate and one in five (20%) are not sure. Last month, it was a tie as 38% of registered voters said they would vote for the Democratic candidate and the same number said they would vote for the Republican candidate.

By party, each one holds on to their partisan supporters. Just over four in five Democrats (84%) would vote for the Democratic candidate and just over four in five Republicans (85%) would vote for the Republican candidate. Independents are definitely divided at this point. Just over one-quarter (28%) would vote for the Republican candidate, one-quarter (25%) would vote for the Democratic candidate, just over one in ten (13%) would vote for another candidate and one-third (34%) are not sure who they would vote for at this time.

So What?

Members of Congress are probably happy a lot of the focus is on the presidential race at this point in time. That way, their consistent string of historically low approval ratings is not the main political focus. But, that will change as the election nears. With the constant partisan in-fighting on Capitol Hill as well as general sense this is the most do-nothing Congress in years, November is shaping up to have the potential to bring a large number of surprises and upsets as people don’t even approve of the job their Member of Congress is doing.

 

TABLE 1

GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT

If the election for Congress were being held today, for whom would you most likely vote?

Base: All adults

 

Total

Registered voters

Political Party

Jan

Feb

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

Democratic candidate

37

38

38

2

84

25

Republican candidate

33

38

35

85

3

28

Other

7

8

6

2

2

13

Not sure

23

16

20

11

11

34

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

7

7

7

6

Excellent

1

2

1

1

Pretty good

6

6

6

5

NEGATIVE

93

93

93

94

Only fair

33

38

34

27

Poor

60

54

58

67

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


 

TABLE 3

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive

Negative

%

%

2012

February

7

93

 

January

6

94

2011

December

5

95

 

November

5

95

October

5

95

September

6

94

August

5

95

July

8

92

June

11

89

May

13

87

April

8

92

March

10

90

February

14

86

January

16

84

2010

December

11

89

 

November

13

87

October

11

89

September

13

87

August

15

85

June

14

86

May

15

85

April

16

84

March

10

90

Jan.

16

84

2009

Dec.

17

83

 

Oct.

16

84

Aug.

22

78

June

25

75

March

29

71

2008

October

10

86

 

August

18

77

June

13

83

February

20

76

2007

December

17

79

 

October

20

77

April

27

69

February

33

62

2006

September

24

73

 

May

18

80

February

25

71

January

25

72

Positive = excellent or pretty good. Negative = only fair or poor.

 

TABLE 4

JOB RATING OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF CONGRESS

How would you rate the overall job your Member of Congress is doing?

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

23

29

25

19

Excellent

4

5

5

2

Pretty good

19

16

20

17

NEGATIVE

64

64

61

70

Only fair

35

36

33

34

Poor

30

29

28

37

Not familiar enough to rate

13

15

14

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 6 and 13, 2012 among 2,056 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41216

Q1215, 1217, 1225, 1228, 1260

 

 

The Harris Poll® #19, February 21, 2012

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

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