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Recent Congressional Approval Trending Higher

Recent Congressional Approval Trending Higher

Story Highlights

  • 23% in U.S. approve, 75% disapprove of way Congress is handling its job
  • Approval rose five points between July and August polls, to 22%
  • Increase owed to Democrats' sharply higher approval of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Approval of Congress, which has been trending higher since August, is now 23%, its highest point in 2022. Still, roughly six weeks before the midterm elections, the vast majority of Americans -- 75% -- disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.


Americans' approval of the Democratic-controlled 117th Congress peaked at 36% in March 2021 and hit its lowest point -- 16% -- in June. However, several legislative victories for Democrats in late July and early August seemingly led to an uptick in approval of Congress -- to 22% in an August Gallup poll. Approval remains at that level in Gallup's Sept. 1-16 poll.

In addition to the bipartisan passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 aimed at scientific research and development, Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act on a party-line vote. The bill, which addresses climate change, lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, and raising taxes on corporations, was a major legislative success for President Joe Biden, who signed it into law on Aug. 16.

Rise in Congressional Approval Due to Improved Rating From Democrats

The Inflation Reduction Act is a scaled-down version of Biden's Build Back Better bill that stalled in Congress last year. Just as Democrats' approval of Congress plummeted when the original bill failed to pass, it rose after passage of the updated version.

The recent gains in congressional approval are primarily the result of a sharp improvement in Democrats' views of the legislature. Aggregated data from monthly polls show Democrats' rating of Congress rose 14 percentage points to 39% between June/July and August/September.

At the same time, Republicans' (6%) and independents' (22%) approval ratings of Congress in August/September were statistically similar to the June/July readings.


Bottom Line

With more than a month to go until the midterm elections, Americans' approval of Congress is improved but still relatively low. Historically, low congressional approval ratings ahead of an election do not bode well for the party in control of Congress.

Low congressional approval, combined with a relatively unpopular president, weak economic confidence and little satisfaction with the direction of the U.S., is typically not a good sign for the president's party. Whether Democrats' increased fervor about abortion, positivity about recent legislative victories, or concerns about former President Donald Trump will translate to better-than-expected results for their party remains to be seen.

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