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Polls show Americans really, really unhappy with Congress

October 11, 2013 by Scott Bomboy


Congress had to know voters wouldn’t be happy with a government shutdown and a debt-ceiling crisis. But two recent polls show many Americans would fire all of Congress, or lobby for a new political party.

Joint_Session_of_Congress-450x300Congress, as one of the three branches of government outlined in the Constitution, plays a critical role in the daily lives of all Americans.

So it’s little wonder that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill now appear to be scrambling to address the debt-ceiling crisis, and maybe the shutdown, as the polling numbers become grim.

Let’s start with the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, where 60 percent of those Americans polled said they would replace the entire Congress in the same election if they could—including their own representative.

That’s not quite a constitutional option yet, since Senate elections rotate every two years. But the entire House is up for re-election in November 2014.

At the heart of the issue, the NBC polls suggests, is deep concern about the economy. Only 7 percent of Americans are confident talks between President Barack Obama and Congress will help the economy get better. About 31 percent of those polled blame Obama for the budget breakdown, while 44 percent blame Republicans in Congress.

And 73 percent of Americans understand the budget impasse in Washington is serious.

In the NBC poll, Republicans are facing more voter wrath than Democrats. About 70 percent believe the GOP is putting its own political agenda ahead of the nation’s best interests.

A recent 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.

Over at Gallup, the long-time pollster has several surveys out that also show Republicans losing favor among voters, and there is a growing interest in a third party to contest the Democrats and Republicans.

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 are down 4 percent to 43 percent for the same time period.

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

A separate survey released by Gallup on Friday shows that 60 percent of Americans—the same number that would vote out Congress—would favor the creation of a third political party.

That is a higher number than just prior to the 2010 midterm elections, when the Tea Party rose to prominence.

But in October, the majority of Americans who identify as Republican or Democrat believe a third party is needed. Gallup says this marks the first time that a majority of either party's supporters have said they want a third party. And 71 percent of independents want a third party.

What that third party would be remains to be seen. In the Fox News poll, 36 percent of Americans, as of last week, had a favorable view of the Tea Party. In the Gallup poll from late September, only 22 percent of those polled were Tea Party supporters.

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

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