WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the U.S. Congress battling until the brink of Christmas to try to pass a healthcare reform bill, Americans are growing neither more positive nor more negative about their elected representatives in Washington. More than two-thirds of Americans (69%) continue to disapprove of the job Congress is doing, while 25% approve -- essentially unchanged from last month.
"Majorities of those who favor and of those who oppose a healthcare bill disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job -- at 53% and 86%, respectively."
The results are from a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Dec. 11-13, 2009, as congressional leaders continued to work toward a compromise that would put a healthcare reform bill on President Barack Obama's desk -- either by the end of the year or by the president's State of the Union address in January.
The lack of change from last month among Americans overall masks slight shifts by party. Approval among Democrats edged downward five percentage points, from 47% to 42% -- while approval among independents edged upward by the same amount, from 14% to 19%. Republicans' approval is statistically steady this month, at 15%.
The extent to which Congress is failing to win fans for its healthcare efforts is underscored by looking at how Americans' approval of Congress relates to their views on healthcare reform. Majorities of those who favor and of those who oppose a healthcare bill disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job -- at 53% and 86%, respectively.
Both Obama and members of Congress have often acknowledged that passing comprehensive healthcare reform would be difficult and potentially unpopular. Congress has taken most of its approval hit from July to October, during the most contentious parts of the debate, but ratings appear to have hit a plateau over the past several months of more nuanced negotiations. The results -- or lack thereof -- of many months of time and energy spent on healthcare will be clearer by the time Gallup updates congressional approval again in January. With the vote for Congress in 2010 already looking extremely tight, congressional Democrats in particular should be resolving in the new year to find ways to move approval higher.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,025 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-13, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.