From Rasmussen Reports…
Current Session of Congress Died As It Lived
Sunday, December 26, 2010
The current session of Congress finally closed its doors this past week with voters remaining largely as critical of it as they have been for months.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 13% of Likely U.S. Voters rate Congress’ performance as good or excellent, consistent with surveys for much of the last two years. Fifty-three percent (53%) say it’s been doing a poor job. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to rate Congress’ work as poor, a view shared by 58% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties.
Late last month, before the lame duck session voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, Congress received good or excellent marks from only 11% of all voters and a grade of poor from 60%. The latest poor finding is the lowest Congress has received since October 2009.
This session of Congress has never won any popularity contests. Its best showing was in May 2009 when 23% gave it good or excellent marks and only 44% rated it poor. In surveys since it opened for business in January 2009, this Congress has earned good or excellent marks ranging from 10% to 23% and poor marks running from 43% to 71%.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on December 21-22, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
While the midterm elections initially brought some good will to the voter ratings for the top congressional leaders, the subsequent month seems to have taken it away. Ratings for the four leaders – Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell - have now fallen back to their pre-election levels.
There’s been little movement for months on several other questions Rasmussen Reports regularly asks about Congress.
Despite Congress’ passage of the national health care bill, the $787-billion economic stimulus plan, the auto bailouts and the extension of the Bush tax cuts, only 29% of voters believe Congress has passed any legislation that will significantly improve life in America. Fifth-six percent (56%) disagree and say Congress has passed no such legislation. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.
This past week, for the first time since Democrats in Congress passed the health care bill in March, a majority of voters think the measure is likely to be repealed. Most voters for months have favored repeal.
Voters continue to send mixed signals about the $787-billion economic stimulus plan approved last year by Congress, even as spending for some portions of the plan begin to run out. Just before Congress’ passage of the Bush tax cut extension to all Americans, most voters still supported it, but opposition was beginning to rise in some surprising places.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters say Congress’ more important role is passing good legislation. But 43% think it’s more important for Congress to prevent bad legislation from becoming law.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats and 51% of unaffiliated voters put more emphasis on passing good legislation. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of GOP voters say stopping bad law from being enacted is more important.
Voters are feeling more charitable than they have since July when it comes to assessing the character of the average member of Congress. Thirty-nine percent (39%) still say most members of Congress are corrupt, but nearly as many (36%) disagree. Twenty-five percent (25%) more are not sure.
Basically unchanged, though, is the view of just 12% that most of those in Congress are more interested in sincerely helping people than in helping themselves. Seventy-nine percent (79%), however, say most congressmen are more interested in helping their own careers.
The economy continues to trump all other issues as far as voters are concerned, and only 24% agree with President Obama that the current policies of the federal government have put the U.S. economy on the right course.
Voters still trust Republicans more than Democrats on seven out of the 10 most important issues regularly surveyed by Rasmussen Reports, including the economy, taxes and national security.
Yet even with the upcoming GOP takeover of the House, voters are pessimistic about what the new Congress is likely to achieve in many key areas. Fifty-nine percent (59%) think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections.