Dec 15, 2011 5:54 PM GMT
Oh dear... There goes the Tea Party landslide...
Survey: Congressional approval at record low, GOP takes brunt of anger
By Justin Sink - 12/15/11 10:51 AM ET
As congressional leaders remain deadlocked over a deal to continue funding the federal government, frustration with Congress has reached record levels according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center released Thursday.
House Republicans could feel the brunt of the discontent, with nearly twice as many respondents blaming GOP leaders than Democrats for what they see as a do-nothing Congress. Half of those surveyed — a record high — say that the 112th Congress has accomplished less than in past years.
Two-thirds of respondents want to see most members thrown out of office — another record high, and a dramatic jump from just over half of those surveyed in 2010. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed believe that "the political system can work fine, it's the members that are the problem."
Republicans are also seen as the more extreme of the parties — 53 percent tabbed the GOP, versus 33 percent who saw Democrats as closer to the fringe — while only a quarter of respondents said Republicans were more willing to work with the other side. More than half of those surveyed believed that Democrats were willing to reach across the aisle, while pluralities favored Democrats as both more honest and ethical and better managers of government.
That was the first time in more than two years that respondents named Democrats as better able to manage the federal government. Democrats are also more likely to approve of the job their leaders are doing, favoring them by a 60 to 31 percent margin. Only 49 percent of Republicans approve of their leadership, versus 44 percent who disapprove.
Republicans are doing especially poorly among Independents, more than half of whom see the GOP as the more extreme of the parties. Independents are also twice as likely to see Democrats as more honest and ethical.
But while these numbers are undoubtedly concerning for Republicans, the extent to which they would actually translate into electoral losses is unclear. While two-thirds of Americans might want to see most members thrown out of Congress, they still strongly tend to like their own representatives. Half of those surveyed still want to see their member reelected — versus only a third who think they should not be. Those numbers are about the same as February of 2010.
And while Democrats might be outpacing Republicans in terms of favorability, that might best be characterized as tripping over a low bar. Only 23 percent of those not affiliated with a party approve of the Democratic leadership, and just as many Independents say that "neither" party can solve the nation's problems as either the Democrats or Republicans.
And while an increasing number of respondents cite partisanship as the leading problem that the country faces, more than half continue to identify economic struggles as the most important issue. Republicans generally see an opening — especially in the presidential race — by attacking Democrats's economic strategy.
Seventy-six percent of respondents saw the size of the national debt as a major threat to the economy, versus only 56 percent who blamed the power of financial institutions and banks. Still, only 44 percent saw government regulations as a major threat to the economy.
Nevertheless, a strong anti-incumbent mood betrays what could be a tough reelection process for the 112th Congress.