Congress Still In Pits
By Alan Pell Crawford
The only thing troubling about reporting the latest congressional approval ratings is that such statistics invariably embolden the president, no matter who. The worse the legislative branch looks, the better, as a rule, does the executive. That strengthens an institution at an even further remove from the people. Congress, after all, should be a brake on presidential power, and the more laughable it becomes, the less effective it can be in that role.
That said, here goes: Gallup’s most recent survey, conducted March 8-11, has only 12 percent of the American people approving of the job Congress is doing, with 82 percent holding its nose. Remarkably enough, this is an improvement over February, when 10 percent—an all-time low—found something in Congress to admire, except perhaps that it meets in a fine old historic building, albeit one increasingly difficult to get into if you’re a tourist.
President Obama is doing somewhat better, but here too there’s work to be done. He’s scored in the mid- to high 40s since January, “including several 49% readings in the last 10 days of Gallup Daily tracking.” Gallup attributes this uptick in the President’s ratings to “greater economic optimism,” which could of course change. Ask anyone this week who got laid off. They shouldn’t be that hard to find.
A silver lining in these grim statistics is this, as Gallup reports: “Typically, when congressional approval ratings are low, members of Congress “have a harder time convincing voters to send them back to Washington for another term,” so there is “more turnover” in upcoming elections. Not as much as one might think, of course, or hope, but more. Two cheers for that.
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