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Politics

Snapshot: In June, About 1 in 5 Approve of Congress

by Andrew Dugan

Story Highlights

  • Current job approval on par with 2017-2018 average of 18%
  • Congressional job approval low across party lines

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Slightly fewer than one in five Americans (19%) in June approve of the job Congress is doing, on par with the 17% who approved of the legislative branch's job performance last month and the 18% who approved in April. Seventy-six percent of Americans disapprove.

Congressional Approval at 19% in June 2018

These findings come from a June 1-13 Gallup poll. As the legislative mid-term elections draw closer -- and with many members already or soon facing a primary challenge -- there is little indication that Congress is becoming any more popular with the American people. Current Congressional job approval is squarely in line with the average approval rating over the 2017-2018 legislative session.

The recent high-water mark for Americans' approval of this Congress occurred in February last year, after the inauguration of Donald Trump delivered full control of the federal government to Republicans for the first time since 2006. Congressional approval rose to 28% that month, the highest level since 2009.

This modest rally, largely driven by high ratings from Republicans, soon subsided, with approval falling to 20% in April 2017, and further to 13% in October after Republicans repeatedly failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last summer. Congressional approval rebounded slightly in December and January after the passage of the tax-cut bill in December.

More recently, Donald Trump's somewhat improved political standing over the past few months -- which saw his approval rising from the high 30% range in January to the low 40% range in May -- appears to have been of little help to the image of the GOP-controlled Congress. Over that time, Congressional job approval has remained quite low.

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Congress Remains Unpopular With All Parties

Though political polarization is, in the eyes of many, a defining feature of Congress, the institution itself continues to generate little partisan loyalty. In June, 30% of Republicans approved of Congress, up slightly from 22% in May. Congressional job approval was lower among the other two political groups, with 19% of independents and 10% of Democrats approving of Congress this month. In May, 18% of independents and 12% of Democrats approved of Congress.

Congressional Approval by Party, January 2017 to June 2018

Though Republicans' low Congressional approval rating is consistent with past readings this year, it nonetheless represents something of a historical anomaly. As Gallup has previously noted, in those times when one party fully controls Congress, it has generally been true that a substantial share of Americans who identify with that party will approve of Congress. From 1995 through the middle of 2001, Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate, despite a brief instance of Democratic Senate control during the transition of vice presidency from Al Gore to Dick Cheney. During that time, the average GOP approval rating stood at 54% compared with 36% among Democrats. The next stint of Republican control, from 2003 through 2006, saw Congress earn an average approval rating of 57% among Republicans and 33% among Democrats.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-13, 2018, with a random sample of 1,520 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 ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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