Majority in U.S. Say Congress Doing a "Poor" or "Bad" Job

Majority in U.S. Say Congress Doing a "Poor" or "Bad" Job

Majority in U.S. Say Congress Doing a "Poor" or "Bad" Job

The FINANCIAL -- Americans' assessments of whether Congress is doing an excellent, good, fair, poor or bad job are decidedly negative, similar to a year ago. The majority of U.S. adults (53%) say Congress is doing a poor or bad job, while just 13% call its performance good or excellent. This results in a -40 net positive rating for Congress, similar to the -34 in June 2015.

In contrast to Congress' negative job evaluation, state and local governments earn net positive ratings of +11 and +24, respectively. Americans' ratings of their respective state governments even improved slightly this year, with 37% rating them excellent or good, up from 31% in June 2015, resulting in an increase in the net positive score to +11 from +4.

These findings are from a June 1-5 Gallup survey conducted before this week's debate over the role congressional inaction on gun control played in the Orlando terrorist attack. The results are consistent with the broad public disapproval of Congress Gallup has found on a monthly basis for a decade. One reason this negativity has continued is that Americans who identify as Republican have remained persistently critical of Congress even as control of the institution has shifted from Democratic majorities in both chambers to split control, and, more recently, to full Republican control. One would expect Congress' overall approval rating to be lifted because supporters of the majority party typically give it higher ratings, but that has not occurred with Republicans in recent years.

Echoing this pattern, Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to say Congress is doing an excellent or good job, nor are they much less likely to say it is doing a poor or bad job.

In the same June 1-5 poll, Gallup asked Americans for their separate assessments of the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress. Americans' ratings of the Republicans in Congress match those of Congress as a whole, while their ratings of Democrats in Congress are somewhat less negative.

Thirteen percent of U.S. adults say the Republicans in Congress are doing an excellent or good job, while 54% call it poor or bad, giving the GOP a -41 net positive score. That is noticeably worse than the -32 Gallup recorded a year ago.

The Democrats in Congress -- currently the minority party in both the House and Senate -- aren't rated quite so poorly, with 21% of Americans giving them high marks vs. 40% low, for a net positive rating of -19. This is essentially unchanged from last year.

More Republicans Negative Than Positive About GOP Caucus

Rank-and-file Republicans are negative about Congress even when rating its GOP members specifically. Slightly more Republicans say the Republicans in Congress are doing a poor or bad job (30%) than say they are doing an excellent or good job (22%). By contrast, rank-and-file Democrats have a relatively positive view of the Democrats in Congress, with 41% rating them excellent or good and only 13% poor or bad. In short, Republicans are much more critical about their representation in Congress than Democrats are about theirs.

Bottom Line

Despite solid Republican majorities in Congress, neither rank-and-file Republicans nor Democrats think Congress is performing well. And while the explanation for this theoretically could be that Republicans evaluate Congress more on the basis of how the Democrats in Congress are behaving than on how the Republicans are performing, Republican identifiers are negative toward Congress even when rating the Republican caucus specifically. By contrast, Democrats rate the Democratic caucus more positively than negatively.

Somewhat more positively, fewer Americans say Congress is doing a poor or bad job (53%) than say they disapprove of the job Congress is doing (80%) in Gallup's standard approve/disapprove format. The 80% disapproving of Congress therefore includes some whose disapproval is not extremely negative. In the current survey, of those disapproving of Congress on the approve/disapprove question, just 23% rated the job Congress is doing in the worst possible terms, calling it "bad." Another 41% called it "poor," while 31% described it as "fair." In other words, Americans have a broadly negative view of how Congress is performing, but it could be worse.

This is the first in a series of Gallup reports investigating Congress' negative image. Future articles in this series will review Americans' specific criticisms of Congress as well as the factors that drive Americans' negative views of Congress.