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.