Ah, the blessing of low expectations:

Americans’ approval of the job Congress is doing rose in early January to 20%, after falling to a record-low 13% in mid-December and registering 17% in November. Support for Congress had been at or near 20% from about May of last year through October. …

Americans’ 13% approval of Congress last month was recorded shortly after President Obama and congressional Republican leaders came to agreement on a plan to extend tax cuts put in place under George W. Bush, but before Congress passed that plan and several other major bills. The record-low rating was mainly the result of a drop in approval among Democrats, who may have either disagreed with the compromise plan or been unhappy about the enhanced role Republicans were playing in the legislative process.

Republicans’ approval of Congress is up since December, and the 22% currently approving is the highest in nearly two years. Approval also improved among Democrats, from 16% to 24%. Still, Democrats’ approval remains significantly lower than what it was for most of 2010, clearly reflecting those partisans’ diminished approval now that Republicans have majority control of the 112th Congress. Independents’ approval today is similar to December and to their ratings all of last year.

What’s interesting about this is that Democrats and Republicans both have higher approval ratings for Congress after the midterms and even after the GOP takeover in the House.  If that’s because Democrats didn’t like the tax compromise in December, they have an odd way of showing it.  Their approval of Congress now is almost as high as it was in November.

For Republicans, their approval has indeed shot up 15 points, but that still only brings it to 22%.  Obviously, Republican voters are happy to control the House, but they’re withholding their enthusiasm until John Boehner and his caucus shows them something.  After what happened between 2001-6, no one can really blame us, either.   Meanwhile, independents are even more skeptical.  Their approval has not changed outside of the margin of error for an entire year.

Andrew Malcolm can feel the historical ennui enthusiasm:

Of course, Gallup’s finding of approval by only one out of five Americans is still pretty pathetic. Back in 2002 when GOP President George W. Bush became only the second president to increase his party’s congressional membership and control in a first midterm election, fully 55% of Americans approved of the job performance by the Republican Congress.

Democrats took control of both houses in 2007 in the 110th Congress; their job approval that session averaged 23%. In the ensuing 111th Congress, also under Pelosi and Reid, approval averaged 25%.

If the latest approval improvement continued at its impressive new-year rate, Congress would match Obama’s 48-49% job approval by March and be inching up on the 58% approval that Bush enjoyed on his 723d day in office. All that, of course, is silly to even contemplate.

Let’s just say that Boehner was right on Election Night — no one has anything to celebrate yet.  After a decade of broken promises from both parties, voters want to see some promises kept before cheering Congress.