Gallup: Congressional approval drops sharply

posted at 8:48 am on October 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

In the spring, Congress enjoyed a spike in approval, hitting a six-year high of 39% as Democrats took control of the agenda and promised economic recovery.  Just six months later, that spike has completely dissipated, according to Gallup.  Approval has dropped 18 points to its lowest rating since January, and ten points in a month:

Americans’ approval of the job Congress is doing is at 21% this month, down significantly from last month’s 31% and from the recent high of 39% in March.

Congressional approval rose sharply in the months after President Obama’s inauguration, from 19% in January to 31% in February and 39% in March. Approval then began to slip gradually, dipping to 31% by the end of the summer, before falling precipitously in October. Given the current 21% reading, it appears that any “honeymoon” period for the 111th Congress has eroded.

Approval of Congress today is significantly below the average 36% rating found across the past two decades.

In fact, it’s close the the approval rating in 2006, which resulted in Republicans losing control of both chambers in the midterm elections.  This time, however, the decline comes mainly from Democrats.  Gallup notes that Democratic approval of Congress had been at a majority since March and peaked at 63% in May.  Last month, 54% of Democrats approved of the job Congress was doing.  Now it’s at 36%, a precipitous 18-point drop.

What has caused disillusionment among Democrats?  Gallup suggests that the failure to move health-care overhaul legislation has caused disillusionment among the party faithful.  That certainly makes sense, but it could also be that the legislation itself has become less popular as its details get made public.  Rasmussen, polling likely voters rather than adults, shows Democratic support for ObamaCare dropping to 56%.  Most likely, it’s a combination of both, and perhaps some effect of the upcoming cap-and-trade legislation may be part of that mix, too.  Gallup needs to test on those questions in its next poll.

If Democrats are watching the polls for a hint at next year’s midterms, they should take note of a seven-point drop among independents from last month too, from 23% approval to 16%.  In March, 34% of independents approved of Congress’ performance, and it remained in the 30s through June.  That was when the CBO finally began scoring ObamaCare proposals, and the effect has been a predictable flight of independents from Democratic efforts since.  The 16% approval rating is slightly more than half the support independents gave Democrats four months ago.

Democrats may be disillusioned in part by Democratic futility, but independents have been disillusioned by the radical nature of the Democrats.  That won’t get fixed by forcing that radical legislation down our throats, and their flight makes the upcoming midterms look very difficult for Democrats.


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While I am 100% opposed to the public option, things like that need to be overhauled.

angryed on October 7, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Agreed. Too bad the Dems aren’t interested in overhauling what we have. They won’t be satisfied with anything but a heavily rationed, euthanizing, completely unionized, government-run health miscare system.

A buddy of mine still had shrapnel in him from Nam that began to bother him. To see a specialist through the VA 3 years ago involved a 3 month wait to see a GP for a referral, followed by 3-6 months to see the specialist. And a surgeon? 6 months. Severe discomfort and pain the whole time. Mmm, mmm, mmm… can’t wait to get that same level of care. Except, us civvies won’t get that care, we’ll be lower priority than even my buddy, who deserves much better care but doesn’t get it.

Fortunately I live near the border, I’ll be able to see a doctor in Mexico and come back the same day rather than wait 3 months for a root canal. The rest of you will have to fly if you don’t want to wait.

theCork on October 7, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I don’t think he’s at all the radical the far-right makes him out to be. Frankly, healthcare reform just isn’t that radical. We really better do something, even if it’s wrong. To do nothing would be highly foolish.

AnninCA on October 7, 2009 at 9:28 AM

That is the terrible philosophy that caused the first eight years of my life to be in the great depression. Both Hoover and FDR thought they could outsmart history and economics. They created policies which made the situation worse. When they were unsuccessful, they tried other policies which also made things worse. Fidgeting with the economy is the road to ruin.

burt on October 7, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Why’s it that high?

Speaking of high, is that the condition of 1 of every 5 people these pollsters seem to find in the woodwork?

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 7, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Ann, Dear Anninca that’s how we got here. FDR did a lot of things, even if it was wrong. LBJ did a bunch of things, even if it was wrong. Carter didn’t do anything but that was wrong too. Clinton was dragged into welfare reform and spent the rest of his term denying the things he had done that were certainly wrong. I’m not too proud of Bush either.
If the Government would just get the hell out of the way most of these problems wouldn’t exist.
Don’t just do something, stand there.

countrybumpkin on October 7, 2009 at 11:56 PM

AnninCA on October 7, 2009 at 9:28 AM

A less than ten page bill could answer all the problems you mentioned today, get bipartisan support, and conceivably even make things better.

The public option is an absolute nightmare.

darktood on October 8, 2009 at 1:50 AM

90% of the members of congress should be considered enemies of the state and moved to GITMO so they can’t harm us anymore.

workingforpigs on October 8, 2009 at 11:11 AM

We really better do something, even if it’s wrong. To do nothing would be highly foolish.

AnninCA on October 7, 2009 at 9:28 AM

The folks selling the “snake oil” are eleven trillion in debt. What makes you think they will get this right this time? The Federal government bankrupted itself making promises that it can’t possibly keep. Any plan that attempts to make more promises to another 47 million Americans without addressing a key root cause of the so-called healthcare crisis is doomed to fail. The missing piece here is tort reform…Tell me why its not being addressed please?

Nozzle on October 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM

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