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Congress approval rating sinks to new historic lows

Congress approval rating sinks to new historic lows
Americans’ confidence in Congress has reached a historic low, with just 10 percent of respondents in a new poll claiming a favorable opinion of the federal legislature. Congress now ranks as the most unpopular societal institution in the US.

Confidence in Congress has been on the decline ever since Gallup started measuring it in 1973 – a year when 42 percent of Americans claimed a favorable opinion. The latest Gallup poll shows that only 10 percent of Americans have confidence in Congress, which is down from 13 percent in 2012.

“Partisan bickering, gridlock, an inability to get things done – that’s what Americans are complaining about,” Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, told Bloomberg News.

The number ranks “the legislative body last on a list of 16 societal institutions for the fourth straight year,” Gallup writes. “This is the lowest level of confidence Gallup has found, not only for Congress, but for any institution on record.”

Survey results also show that low confidence is equally likely among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. In previous years, members of the party that represented the majority in both houses of Congress were more likely to express confidence in the legislature.

Now, even representatives themselves have expressed serious disappointment with the legislature as a whole. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told Bloomberg News that the latest poll results are what Congress deserves, and that he won’t be seeking another term in 2016.

“Why should it be that high?” he said of the Gallup ranking. “Look, we’re incompetent. I think it’s full appropriate.”

The poll results show that Americans have the greatest confidence in the US military, with 76 percent of respondents expressing favorable views toward the institution. Trust in the US police force was also particularly high, with 57 percent of Americans reporting their confidence in the country’s law enforcement. 

Television news and newspapers were on the lower end of the spectrum, with only 23 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the American media. But for the fourth year in a row, Congress has come in last.

The latest figures about Americans’ lack of confidence in Congress are in line with numerous other polls. In January, a joint USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe Congress is causing “serious harm to the country”.  A recent CBS News poll also found that only 13 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress handles its role.

Earlier this month, a Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 6 percent of US voters give Congress a positive job rating, while 64 percent voted its performance as “poor”. And a Public Policy Polling report found that “Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and even Nickelback.” The poll found that only the Ebola virus, North Korea, and the Kardashians rank lower than America’s legislature.

The most recent Gallup poll is based on a sample of 1,529 adults who were interviewed June 1-4.