Nine in Ten Americans Give Congress Negative Job Ratings

NEW YORK , N.Y. – March 27, 2012 – On the bright side, Congress has the highest job approval ratings so far this year and, in fact, the highest numbers they’ve seen since last June. But, the high ratings are relative. Currently just one in ten Americans (9%) give them positive ratings for the overall job they are doing while 91% give them negative ratings. Last month 7% of U.S. adults gave Congress positive ratings while 93% gave Congress negative marks.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,451 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at the ratings for Congress by party and political ideology, feelings are similar across the board with Democrats and Liberals slightly more positive than Republicans and Conservatives. Just over one in ten Democrats (11%) and Liberals (11%) give the job Congress is doing positive marks. The number drops just below that for Independents (9%) and Moderates (9%). Just under one in ten Conservatives (9%) give Congress positive ratings for the job they are doing as do just 7% of Republicans.

It is a little better for individual members of Congress. When Americans were asked how they would rate the overall job their Member of Congress is doing, one-quarter (24%) give their Representative positive ratings, but just over three in five (62%) give negative ratings while just over one in ten (13%) say they are not familiar enough with their Member of Congress to rate them. This is similar to last month when 23% gave their Member positive ratings and 64% gave them negative marks.

Looking at this by party, three in ten Republicans (29%) rate their Member of Congress positively as do 27% of Democrats. Among Independents, one in five (19%) give their Member positive ratings while seven in ten (69%) give them negative marks. There is also an interesting generational difference. Among Echo Boomers (those 18-35), one-quarter (23%) say they are not familiar enough with their Member to rate them, 23% give their Member positive ratings and 53% negative marks. Looking at the oldest generation, Matures (ages 67 and older), they are much more familiar with their Member of Congress as only 4% say they can’t rate them. And, while 31% of Matures give their Member of Congress positive ratings, almost two-thirds (65%) give them negative marks.

So What?

For now, the electoral focus is all on the presidential race, and mostly on the Republicans. But, as the summer starts, the talk of Congressional elections will heat up as well and, for now, Congress is not in a good place. When nine in ten Americans disapprove of the overall job the institution is doing, it is no surprise that so many Members of Congress have decided to run for other offices or not run at all. It is not clear yet if this may be a historical, throw the bums out, type of election but one thing is clear: Americans are not pleased with what those in this institution are doing.

 

TABLE 1

JOB RATING OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF CONGRESS

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

Base: All adults

 

Total

Feb

Total

March

Political Party

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen X.

(36-47)

Baby

Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

23

24

29

27

19

23

21

24

31

Excellent

4

3

3

5

2

4

2

3

3

Pretty good

19

21

26

23

17

20

19

21

28

NEGATIVE

64

62

59

59

69

53

66

67

65

Only fair

35

35

33

35

36

34

37

35

34

Poor

30

28

26

25

33

20

29

32

31

Not familiar enough to rate

13

13

12

14

12

23

13

9

4

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

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

9

7

11

9

9

9

11

Excellent

1

1

2

1

1

1

3

Pretty good

8

6

10

8

8

8

8

NEGATIVE

91

93

89

91

91

91

89

Only fair

35

39

36

29

39

35

36

Poor

55

55

52

61

52

56

57

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

March

9

91

 

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

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.

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 19, 2012 among 2,451 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

 

 

The Harris Poll ® #34, March 27, 2012

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

About Harris Interactive

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