Newspaper article Roll Call

Survey Sees the Nadir of Congress' Approval Rating

Newspaper article Roll Call

Survey Sees the Nadir of Congress' Approval Rating

Article excerpt

Congress" approval rating is perilously close to the margin of error for none at all, according to a new survey by Indiana University"s Center on Congress.

Among the 1,000 individuals polled nationwide throughout September and October, just 9 percent approved of Congress" current job performance. The margin of error for the public opinion survey conducted by YouGov/Polimetrix was 3.5 percent. That means Congress" approval rating could be as high as 12.5 percent or as low as 5.5 percent.

Founded in 1999 and run by former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, D-Ind., the center has for years been sponsoring annual public opinion polls to take the temperature of Americans" feelings toward their elected officials in Washington, D.C. These are the lowest marks the nonpartisan education institution has ever seen.

"Quite frankly, it"s been a pretty dismal evaluation of Congress ever since we began doing these surveys ... it"s as low as we"ve seen it, although it"s not much lower,' said Edward Carmines, the center"s research director and a professor of political science at Indiana University in Bloomington. "This whole era, Congress has been in very low esteem, but it certainly hasn"t improved and in some ways it"s gotten even more negative in terms of the public"s evaluation of Congress.'

The latest survey, released last week, shows a decline from years past. The November 2011 public opinion survey put Congress" approval rating at 9.8 percent, while in October 2010 the center"s poll showed that 16.3 percent of respondents approved of legislators" job performance. In October 2009, the approval rating was 23 percent.

With veteran lawmakers themselves saying that the climate on Capitol Hill has never felt more toxic, the 2012 survey results should be sobering, if not too surprising.

Respondents to the poll overwhelmingly gave failing marks to the 112th Congress on a variety of issues when asked to provide a grade from A to F, including "dealing with key issues facing the country' and "keeping excessive partisanship in check. …

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