PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' approval of the way Congress is handling its job is at 12% in February, roughly unchanged since December, and only three points higher than the all-time low of 9% recorded last November.
These results are from a Gallup poll conducted Feb. 6-9.
Americans' approval of Congress has been relatively stable for the last three months, at a level that is slightly below the 14% average congressional job approval rating for 2013, which in turn was the lowest annual average in Gallup's history. Congress' job approval has averaged below 20% for each of the past four years, well below the historical average of 33%.
The record-low reading last November came on the heels of Congress' inability to pass a budget plan, which in turn resulted in the government shutdown. Approval ratings are up slightly from that nadir, but appear to have settled down at continued low levels.
Republicans Rate Congress More Highly Than Democrats, Independents Do
Congressional job approval could have particular relevance in this midterm election year. In February 2010, the last midterm year, approval of Congress was 18%. At that point, Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, which was reflected in a 30% approval rating among Democrats, contrasted with a much lower 13% among independents and 11% among Republicans. In November of that year, the Republicans gained a large number of seats in the House and took control of it in January 2011.
Since then, control of Congress has been divided, although Republicans (23%) this month give Congress a significantly higher rating than independents (9%) or Democrats (7%) do. Republicans also gave Congress a higher rating in January, contrasting with much of 2013, when partisan differences showed a more varied pattern.
Party ratings of Congress fluctuate from month to month, partly because of the smaller sample sizes of each partisan group in each month's survey, but the current margin between Republicans and Democrats is the largest since the GOP controlled both houses in 2006. It remains to be seen whether this uptick in Republican approval will be sustained throughout this election year or is more of a short-term phenomenon.
Americans continue to have low opinions of the job their elected representatives in Congress are doing, one of a number of measures reflecting the general displeasure the nation's citizens have for their government right now. All members of the House and about a third of the Senate are up for re-election this November, but with control of these two bodies in the hands of different parties, it remains difficult to predict how Americans' negative feelings will affect their decisions in the voting booth.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 6-9, 2014, with a random sample of 1,023 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.