The fact that
Congress’ approval ratings are low is nothing new— and a new ABC/Washington Post poll puts that approval rating at a 40-year low.
It’s such a cliche that Public Policy Polling occasionally compares the body’s ratings with those of hemorrhoids, toenail fungus, dog poop, and cockroaches.
But the widespread disapproval of Congress has never translated to voters’ own representatives. And that’s why, by and large, most members of Congress are re-elected.
“Congressional approval polls measure frustration toward the body as a whole rather than their own representative,” PPP director Tom Jensen told Business Insider a couple weeks ago.
“So even if people hate Congress in general, usually they either like their own member enough or are in a gerrymandered enough district that most members get reelected anyway. Most Republican voters who are unhappy with the House will still vote Republican next year and vice versa.”
But this time could be different, the ABC/WaPo poll shows. After the federal government shutdown and debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, Congress’ 12% approval rating is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.
But more importantly, Americans’ approval of their own representative of Congress is underwater for the first time in a quarter-century of polling.
Approval of voters’ own representatives sits at just 43%. Normally, that lingers well above 50% and usually into 60% levels. Meanwhile, disapproval is at 47%. It usually sits in 30% levels.
The poll shows that the recent budget battles damaged Republicans much more than it did President Barack Obama or Democrats, though anger at the entire federal government is palpable.
The public blames the Republicans in Congress for the shutdown over Obama by a 53-29 margin, similar to the advantage President Bill Clinton enjoyed during the last federal government shutdown. And only 32% view the Republican Party favourably, the worst mark in nearly three decades.
Overall, a year out of the 2014 midterm elections, 66% say they will “look around” for a candidate other than their current representative, the highest level of anti-incumbency since 1989.
Here’s a chart:
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