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Polls: People still dislike, distrust Congress at all-time levels

April 17, 2013 by NCC Staff


The latest numbers from two prominent pollsters show Americans, in general, remain very unhappy with Congress and the federal government, and don’t trust Congress in particular.

Joint_Session_of_Congress-450x300While this may not be breaking news to most people, the combined levels of happiness are at historic lows, at least for Congress, for survey data that goes back to the 1970s.

Gallup says that as of April 7, just 15 percent of Americans approve of the job that Congress is doing in Washington.

While that is above the all-time low of 10 percent, the approval level of Congress has remained below 20 percent for the past two years, with two monthly exceptions: May 2011 (when Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden) and October 2012 (the month before the election).

An annual poll from Gallup shows that mistrust of Congress, in general, is also near an all-time low. The last reading, taken in September, showed that 65 percent of Americans have little or no trust at all in Congress.

Historically, the Gallup numbers show that majority of Americans trusted Congress until September 2007, when the trust level fell below 50 percent for the first time.

And the most recent polling from Pew Research shows that Americans are unhappy with the entire federal government, but are actually much more satisfied with state and local governments.

Only 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the entire federal government, compared with favorable ratings of 63 percent for local government and 57 percent for state government.

Pew said the number of people happy with the federal government was the lowest in that survey’s history.

And in a telling sign, more Democrats have an unfavorable view of the federal government in Washington than a favorable view (51 percent unfavorable vs. 41 percent favorable), for the first time in President Barack Obama’s presidency.

The president’s party currently controls the Senate, as well as the White House.

If you think those two polls are a fluke, tracks all congressional approval polls back to 2005, and in 91 polls taken about Congress in the past two years,  the legislative body has only received an approval rating of 20 percent or more 16 times.

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