Congressional Approval Inches Up, Effect On Fall Elections Uncertain

Tuesday, 12 Jun 2012 10:10 AM

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Congress’ approval rating has ticked up in recent months to hit 17 percent. The rating is an improvement over the all-time low of 10 percent reported in February and may have an effect on which party will prevail in the fall, a new Gallup poll taken June 7 through 10 showed.

Gallup noted that congressional job approval numbers have generally been low for years, mostly registering in the teens with an occasional spike. For 2010, 2011, approval ratings have been below 20 percent.

“Congress faces many highly significant issues this year, focusing mainly on the ‘fiscal cliff’ that will force major cuts in defense and entitlement spending in January, and the pending elimination of all of the Bush tax cuts if no action is taken by the end of the year,” Gallup said in an analysis of the numbers. “Given that this is an election year, it is probable that Congress will wait until after Nov. 6 to take real action on any of these concerns, lowering the chances that Americans' ratings of Congress will go significantly higher in the interim.”

Congressional disapproval crosses party lines. Just 20 percent of Democrats, 16 percent of independents, and 17 percent of Republicans approve of the job members of Congress are doing. The Senate is controlled by Democrats and Republicans control the House.

“Congress approval remains slightly higher than its all-time low of 10 percent recorded in February, but at 17 percent is certainly at the low end of its historical distribution,” Gallup said. “Given the divided nature of Congress, it is not clear how voters will take out their disappointment in Congress on their elected representatives on Election Day. Approval is slightly lower now than it was just before the 2010 congressional elections, in which Americans sent many incumbents home and flipped control of the House from the Democrats to the Republicans.”


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