Citizens find improved Congress, score still pathetic

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U.S. CongressThe number of US citizens who have a positive opinion of the 112th Congress actually improved by 2% from February to March. Incredibly, that was not enough of a gain to so much as move the positive needle into double-digit territory, according to the latest Harris Poll. The ratings for legislators individually was better but by no means good.


Democrats take Congress into double-digits – barely, with a positive rating of 11%. Independents are 9% positive and Republicans 7% positive. Ideologically, its liberals 11%, moderates and conservatives both at 9%.

Individual members received a positive rating of 24% in March, up one point from February. Republicans were the most positive at 29%, followed by Democrats (27%) and Independents (19%). Demographically, ratings from ages 18-66 ranged from 21% to 24%. Matures gave their own members the best score of the poll, with a 31% positive rating.

The overall Congressional positive score has not been in double digits since they scored an 11% rating in June 2011. You have to look back to June 2009 to find the last time a quarter of Americans awarded a positive rating to the body.

Rating Congress by Party

Rating Total Rep Dem Ind
Positive 9 7 11 9
Excellent 1 1 2 1
Pretty good 8 6 10 8
Negative 91 93 89 91
Only fair 35 39 36 29
Poor 55 55 52 61
Source: The Harris Poll

Rating Congress by Ideology

Rating Total Con Mod Lib
Positive 9 9 9 11
Excellent 1 1 1 3
Pretty good 8 8 8 8
Negative 91 91 91 89
Only fair 35 39 35 36
Poor 55 52 56 57
Source: The Harris Poll

Rating Legislators by Party

Positive 24 29 27 19
Excellent 3 3 5 2
Pretty good 21 26 23 17
Negative 62 59 59 69
Only fair 35 33 35 36
Poor 28 26 25 33
Don’t know 13 12 14 12
Source: The Harris Poll

Rating Legislators by Age Demo

Rating 18-35 36-47 48-66 67+
Positive 23 21 24 31
Excellent 4 2 3 3
Pretty good 20 19 21 28
Negative 53 66 67 65
Only fair 34 37 35 34
Poor 20 29 32 31
Don’t know 23 13 9 4
Source: The Harris Poll

RBR-TVBR observation: We hate them, we complain about them, we flame them — and we re-elect them. This doesn’t say much for the psychological profile of the majority of American voters, does it?

Our own personal belief is that there are a lot of reasons to run for Congress, and we think that the vast majority of those who make it to Capitol Hill go there with the best of intentions.

But the simple reality is that it is hard to move the ball down the field by yourself when you are but one among 535. Successful legislators need time to learn the system and earn allies.

We’re sure that all 535 members would prefer to simply craft legislation as they see fit and watch it pass intact, and often that may be possible – in a parallel universe somewhere. But on this Earth, compromise is a necessary part of this process. It’s easy to criticize compromise, in part because it makes it possible to tag almost every member of Congress with the dreaded flip-flopper label sooner or later.

However, as has been pointed out many times, Americans’ low opinion of legislators is usually directed at the other 532 – their own two senators and one representative are A-OK!


1 COMMENT

  1. “We hate them, we complain about them, we flame them — and we re-elect them. This doesn’t say much for the psychological profile of the majority of American voters, does it?”

    But on the other hand, what are we being offered for choices?

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