Kick Them All Out! Distaste for DC Politicians at All-Time High

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Friday, 11 Oct 2013 11:59 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The public's displeasure with Washington politics reached a new high Friday with separate polls calling for all members of Congress to be fired and for a strong third party to challenge the 150-year-old dominance of Republicans and Democrats.

One survey also gave the lowest-ever favorability to the GOP, with more than twice as many people having a negative view as a positive.

The government shutdown and the continued failure of politicians to seek compromise was being blamed for the low opinion of the country's current leaders.

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One poll, conducted for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, showed that given the chance, 60 percent of Americans would vote out every single member of Congress — including their own representatives.

It is the highest-ever figure recorded since the pollsters asked the question. "We continue to use this number as a way to sort of understand how much revulsion there is. We now have a new high-water mark," said Peter Hart, one of those who conducted the poll.

A separate Gallup poll gave the same 60 percent number for those who believe the country needs a strong third party — again a record high. At the same time, a new low of 26 percent believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

"Given the inability of the Republican and Democratic parties to agree on the most basic of government functions — passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs — it is perhaps not surprising that the percentage of Americans who believe a third party is needed has never been higher," Gallup managing editor Jeffrey Jones said.

The belief was evenly split, with 52 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats saying a third party is needed, marking the first time a majority of either party's supporters have said this.

The results are consistent with Gallup's finding of more negative opinions of both parties since the shutdown began Oct. 1, including Americans' widespread dissatisfaction with the way the nation is being governed.

Eighteen percent of Americans now say they are satisfied with how Washington is running the country, down 14 percent from the 32 percent recorded last month. It's also the lowest government satisfaction rating in Gallup's history of asking the question, going back to 1971 — through such crises as Watergate, the Iran hostages, the Clinton impeachment hearings, the war in Iraq, and the recession.

The figures provide "still another example of how the government shutdown is having a detrimental impact on Americans' attitudes," Gallup stated.

While both major parties fare badly in the polls, it is the Republicans who continue to get more blame. More than twice as many hold a negative view of the GOP as a positive one, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found. Those viewing the Democratic Party positively or negatively was nearly equal, at about 40 percent.

Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the poll along with Democrats Hart and Fred Yang, called the data "toxic" and said that in many key areas the GOP had suffered from an "ideological boomerang" contrary to the outcome it sought when members of the party launched the budget fight last month.

"What is stunning about these results is just how hard and how quickly public attitudes have landed on the shutdown," said Hard, adding that the poll underscored "a broad disgust for the political system."

Other polls this week have also indicated that Republicans get the brunt of the blame for the shutdown, but also show that nobody in Washington comes out looking like a hero.
The latest Associated Press-GfK survey, released Wednesday, found that 62 percent of respondents mainly blamed the GOP for the shutdown, while about half said President Barack Obama or Democrats in Congress bear much of the responsibility.

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Most Americans, 68 percent, consider the shutdown a serious problem for the country, the poll found, although more than four in five have felt no personal effect.

For those who have, the biggest complaints were ruined vacations in shuttered national parks, trouble getting work done without contacts in federal jobs, and difficulty receiving government benefits.

Asked if she blamed Obama, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, or the tea party for the shutdown, 71-year-old Martha Blair, an independent from Kerrville, Texas, responded, "Yes, you bet. All of them."

The majority of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the survey suggested, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.
Congress is at rock bottom, with a dismal approval rating of just 5 percent, the poll found.

Respondents seemed unsure about the looming showdown over the debt ceiling. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government's ability to borrow isn't renewed later this month, but only 30 percent say they support raising the limit. Forty-six percent were neutral on the question.

The Journal/NBC poll of 800 Americans was conducted Oct. 7-9. The Gallup poll was taken among slightly more than 1,000 adults nationwide between Oct 3-6 and the AP poll was among 1,227 adults conducted from Oct. 3-7.

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