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Congress Job Approval Highest Since 2009

Congress Job Approval Highest Since 2009

Story Highlights

  • 49% approve of job President Trump is doing
  • 31% approve of way Congress is handling its job
  • Approval of Congress has not been higher since 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For a second consecutive month, Congress' job approval rating remains elevated, at 31%. Congress last had an approval rating of 31% or better in early September 2009, during President Barack Obama's first year in office, when he worked with Democratic majorities in Congress.

Line graph. Congress’ 31% job approval rating is its highest since 2009.

The latest congressional approval rating comes from a May 1-13 Gallup poll, conducted as the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress has passed four bills to address the public health and economic harm caused by COVID-19 and is considering further legislation. Gallup found roughly eight in 10 Americans approving of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in late March to provide relief for businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus situation. Congress' approval rating for handling the coronavirus situation is 48%, well above its overall approval rating.

President Donald Trump's job approval ratings have also been higher in recent months, including 49% in the current survey, unchanged from the prior measure in late April and tied for the best of his presidency.

Congress' approval rating had averaged 17% for the prior 10 years, considerably below its historical average 30% approval since 1974.

The highest rating Congress ever received was 84% in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Congressional Approval Higher Among All Party Groups

Congress began the year with a 23% job approval rating, and it stayed at about that level through March, before increasing to 30% in the April 1-14 Gallup poll, right after the late March coronavirus relief bill was signed into law. Currently, 39% of Democrats, 32% of independents and 24% of Republicans approve of the job Congress is doing, up at least eight percentage points since January among all groups.

Line graph. Congress’ job approval rating has improved among all party groups.

Democrats rate Congress higher than Republicans, even though control of the legislative branch is divided between the Democratic-led House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate. That pattern has generally been the case since Democrats took control of the House in early 2019.

In 2017 and 2018 -- Trump's first two years in office, when he worked with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress -- Republicans rated Congress more positively than Democrats did.

Bottom Line

Although Americans are still mostly negative toward Congress, their opinions of the institution now are the most positive they have been in over a decade. Its work to address the coronavirus crisis has likely contributed to those higher ratings. Congress has begun crafting further coronavirus relief legislation, with the House working on a bill that would provide $3 trillion in additional relief. The Senate and the president agree another relief package will likely be needed, but they disagree with House leaders on the scope and timing of the bill.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Explore President Trump's approval ratings and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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