Poll: Approval of Congress Rises Slightly, Still Very Low

Poll: Approval of Congress Rises Slightly, Still Very Low
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Congress’ approval rating is higher than it’s been in nearly half a decade, according to a new poll released Friday, but it still isn’t at a level worth bragging about.

Sixteen percent of likely voters think lawmakers are doing a good or excellent job, according to a poll from Rasmussen Reports. While that’s a jump from 11 percent last month, and a solid lift from 7 percent at the end of 2014, it’s still completely underwater. More than half of voters surveyed, 52 percent, said Congress is doing a poor job.

Nonetheless, the 16 percent may signal a positive trend for the legislative branch. It’s the highest approval rating since August 2010, according to Rasmussen. Last year, the figure never made it beyond single digits. The last time approval was above 20 percent was back in May 2009, when Democrats controlled both chambers.

Interestingly, there isn’t a large partisan gap in approval for Congress despite Republicans retaking control of the Senate this year. Twenty-one percent of Republicans think Congress is doing an excellent or good job, and 19 percent of Democrats say the same.

Most voters have strong negative opinions of congressional leadership in both parties, the most visible lawmakers in the Capitol.

Though voters may be warming to how members of Congress do their job, they have little faith in the electoral process that gets them to Capitol Hill. Two-thirds of those surveyed said members get elected because election rules are rigged to their benefit, while just 14 percent think it’s because they represent constituents well.

It isn’t just election rules, however -- a large majority of voters think members of Congress are willing to sell out for votes. Asked if most senators and representatives are willing to sell their vote for cash or campaign contributions, 62 percent said yes, while just 18 percent said no. And 57 percent of voters think their own elected representative has in fact sold their vote. Just 27 percent say it’s unlikely that their member of Congress has done so.

The poll of 800 likely voters, conducted Feb. 18-19, has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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