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Snapshot: Congress Approval Still Low Heading Into Midterms

Snapshot: Congress Approval Still Low Heading Into Midterms

Story Highlights

  • 21% of U.S. adults approve of the job Congress is doing
  • Ratings essentially unchanged after Kavanaugh confirmation
  • Republican ratings are improved compared with lows this spring

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With less than a month to go until the midterm elections, Gallup finds 21% of U.S. adults approving and 73% disapproving of the way Congress is handling its job. The latest approval rating is similar to the 19% recorded last month, but is higher than the average 17% for the previous nine months of 2018. It is also the first time congressional approval has topped 20% since the early months of the Trump presidency. Before that, it had not reached this high since October 2012.

Line graph, Congress approval is 21% in October, similar to the 19% in September but up from 17% in August.

The poll was conducted Oct. 1-10, as the Senate debated about and -- ultimately, on Oct. 6 -- confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by nearly a party-line vote. The job score for Congress was similar in both halves of the poll, suggesting the vote didn't immediately affect public views of the legislative body.

Background: Most of the variation in congressional job approval over the past two years, since President Donald Trump took office, has been a result of changes among Republicans. Republicans were especially positive about the Republican-led Congress starting in February 2017 after Trump took office, as well as in January 2018, shortly after congressional passage of the Republican-sponsored tax overhaul bill.

By contrast, Republicans' ratings of Congress plunged to 16% last summer after Congress failed to undo key elements of the Affordable Care Act.

Line graph, Republicans’ ratings of Congress are 36% in October, similar to the 31% in September but up from 28% in August.

Even though the vast majority of Republicans wanted to see Kavanaugh confirmed, their views of Congress did not change appreciably between September and October, spanning his confirmation: 36% of Republicans now approve of the job Congress is doing, compared with 31% last month. However, Republicans are more positive than they were in August, possibly reflecting approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee's handling of Kavanaugh's confirmation process since Trump nominated him in July.

Currently, 19% of independents and 10% of Democrats approve of the job Congress is doing, also similar to their ratings in September.

View complete question responses and trends.

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