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Politicians take a beating in latest polls

October 21, 2013 by Scott Bomboy


Polling numbers are starting to roll in after last week’s deal in Washington to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. And it looks like the folks on Capitol Hill face some historically bad numbers that could foreshadow a rocky midterm election in 2014.

Obama_Boehner_State_of_the_Union_2011In a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday morning, the backlash seems to be mostly against Republicans, but other recent surveys spread the blame more equally.

The CNN poll said that 31 percent of those surveyed had more faith in House Republicans than President Obama to handle major problems facing the country. In comparison, 44 percent of people had more faith in President Obama.

That is actually a worse number than the GOP received in 1996, when Republicans faced criticism for a government shutdown that featured Speaker Newt Gingrich taking on President Bill Clinton. The bad feelings against the GOP in 1996 were seen as a contributing factor in Bob Dole’s defeat in that year’s election against Clinton.

Also in the CNN poll, 12 percent of people thought Congress was doing a good job, a number near its historic low of 10 percent, which was set last month. Back during the 1995-1996 shutdown, the congressional approval rating stood at 30 percent.

And in two other questions that might concern Republicans, the favorability rating of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was up 4 percentage points from late September, despite headlines about its website problems and withering attacks on the ACA by Republicans.

Americans also are clearly unhappy with John Boehner, with 63 percent saying he should be removed as Speaker of the House.

A Pew Research poll from last week showed low numbers for President Obama and Democrats, as well as the Republicans.

“Approval ratings for President Obama (43 percent approve), Democratic congressional leaders (31 percent) and GOP leaders (20 percent) all are at or near all-time lows, yet are not substantially more negative than they were in early September, a month before the shutdown started,” Pew said.

Pew said the 20 percent approval rating for GOP leaders was driven by unrest among Republicans.

In the Pew survey, 74 percent of Americans wanted to see most members of Congress defeated if they ran for re-election. That is a record in the survey for data gathered back to 1990 about midterm elections. (The previous record was 57 percent in 1996.)

Over at Gallup, polling data released Monday show that President Obama’s approval rating was down after the debt debacle, but not at its historic low.

It stands at 44.5 percent in his 19th quarter as president. In comparison, President George W. Bush had a 43.9 percent rating as the same point in his second term.

During the shutdown, other polls showed growing dissatisfaction with Congress.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said 60 percent of those Americans surveyed said they would replace the entire Congress in the same election if they could—including their own representative. About 31 percent of those polled blamed Obama for the budget breakdown, while 44 percent blamed Republicans in Congress.

A Fox News poll from October 3 found that the disapproval rating of Congress stood at 81 percent. Fox said 45 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Democrats, in general, with the Republicans stood at 35 percent.

Another Gallup poll showed the favorability of the GOP fell 10 percent between September and October, to 28 percent, its lowest rating since Gallup started asking the question in 1992. The Democrats were down 4 percent to 43 percent for the same time period.

And in a telltale sign, 25 percent of Americans said they didn’t like either party.

About 60 percent of Americans—the same number that would vote out Congress—would favor the creation of a third political party.

Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.

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