CNN Poll: Time to clean house in Congress?
August 9th, 2011
11:50 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Time to clean house in Congress?

Washington (CNN) – Need more evidence that Americans are extremely angry at Congress?

Well, here you go: According to a new national survey, for the first time ever most Americans don't believe their own member of Congress deserves re-election.

Read full results (pdf).

And the CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday also indicates that while Republicans may have had the upper hand in the recent battle over raising the debt ceiling, they appear to have lost a lot of ground with the public and the party's unfavorable rating is now at an all time high.

Only 41 percent of people questioned say the lawmaker in their district in the U.S. House of Representatives deserves to be re-elected - the first time ever in CNN polling that that figure has dropped below 50 percent. Forty-nine percent say their representative doesn't deserve to be re-elected in 2012. And with ten percent unsure, it's the first time that a majority has indicated that they would boot their representative out of office if they had the chance today.

"That 41 percent, in the polling world, is an amazing figure. Throughout the past two decades, in good times and bad, Americans have always liked their own member of Congress despite abysmal ratings for Congress in general," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Now anti-incumbent sentiment is so strong that most Americans are no longer willing to give their own representative the benefit of the doubt.  If that holds up, it could be an early warning of an electorate that is angrier than any time in living memory."

As for all members of Congress, the poll indicates only a quarter of the public says most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected.

A lot of that anger seems directed toward the GOP.  According to the survey, favorable views of the Republican party dropped eight points over the past month, to 33 percent. Fifty-nine percent say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when the question was first asked.

The poll indicates that views of the Democratic party, by contrast, have remained fairly steady, with 47 percent saying they have a favorable view of the Democrats and an equal amount saying they hold an unfavorable view.

"The Democratic party, which had a favorable rating just a couple of points higher than the GOP in July, now has a 14-point advantage over the Republican party," adds Holland.

The same pattern holds for the parties' leaders in Congress.  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the chamber, have never had great numbers, but the public's view of them have remained essentially unchanged in the wake of the debt ceiling debate.  But House Speaker John Boehner's favorable rating has dropped 10 points, and his unfavorable rating is up to 40 percent, a new high for him.  On the Senate side, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell isn't faring much better - his unfavorable rating is 39 percent, a seven-point increase since July.

The poll indicates that Americans' views of the tea party movement have also turned more negative, with 51 percent saying they have a negative view of the two-year-old limited government and anti-tax grassroots movement, with favorable ratings dropping from 37 percent down to 31 percent. Freshman House Republicans elected with major support from tea party activists were instrumental in keeping any tax increases out of the agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey was conducted both before and after Friday night's downgrading of the country's credit rating by Standard and Poor's. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Congress • Debt • Deficit • Economy
soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    Indeed it makes a good case for term limits. You know, in Illinois, we have term limits. The first term is served in office, while the second is served in prison.

    August 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. John Swanagon

    Yep! Time to clean house. I think anyone currently serving in Congress should be immediately ineligible for re-election. Furthermore, I think we should wipe out the concept of parties. I'm tired of that. The R's are killing us. The D's are killing us. I think the R's are killing us more right now - but historically, they've both equally screwed us. I'm so sick of it! THROW THE BUMS OUT AND DO IT FOR GOOD THIS TIME!

    August 9, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Craig

    Man...the koolaid drinking socialists are out in full force today.

    The only people in congress doing their job are the Tea Party Freshman. They are voting along the lines of the Consitiution for the long term sustainability of our country.

    All you people who bash them as terrorists could not be more wrong. These are politicians who are standing on firm economic pronciples and I bet everyone of them is far less personally wealthy than the Dem represenatives.

    August 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. heh

    We already have term limits, its called voting....

    August 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Franko

    Special interest and lobbyists supply the money for our representatives. Americans have a "Lobbyocracy", not a "Democracy". That ended long ago. Term limits yes, boot the bums out, yes, but also, change the laws regarding buying representatives with money from lobbyists. Otherwise it will just be changing dirty laundry for more dirty laundry. 45,000 lobbyists and over $4 billion in "contributions". Come on.

    August 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. DumDeDumDem

    Our representatives are as greedy, manipulative and obstinate as their constituents. It's the nation that's broken. We are the disease and our Congress is only the symptom.

    August 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. jorge washinsen

    Consider the source of the poll.

    August 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. Rick

    Vote the ones in that will vote for term limits for one. And all these old congressmans that been around for like 20 plus years need to go. We need some new blood all over.

    August 9, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. jorge washinsen

    Half the people who are responding here have never voted.

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. diridi

    Term Limits on Congress and Senate, and Anti-lobby law, Generic medicine in Medicare.
    Term Limits on Congress and Senate, and Anti-lobby law, Generic medicine in Medicare.
    Term Limits on Congress and Senate, and Anti-lobby law, Generic medicine in Medicare.
    Term Limits on Congress and Senate, and Anti-lobby law, Generic medicine in Medicare.
    Term Limits on Congress and Senate, and Anti-lobby law, Generic medicine in Medicare.

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    1st off, its a cnn poll. 2nd, where was the poll conducted, san francisco?
    Just more liberal propaganda

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Bob

    There has to be term limits for our government to work. Unfortunately most of the house and senate care more about getting re-elected than the good of the country.

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Tony

    Are you kidding? With the amnesia this country has? We'll never get rid of these people. They'll spin it, and alter history, and tell half truths, and the feeble minds will eat it right up at the voting booth. Besides many of the Republican candidates already have time bombs waiting in their respective states with gay rights legislature on the ballots to get their hate mongers to voting booths.

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Anabelle

    This is what happens when people don't care what their representatives are doing. They just vote based on party loyalty and not on country loyalty, track record or performance while in office.

    It's time people stop being so loyal to their own parties and vote people in with proven track records. Get rid of the trash who promised things that they couldn't deliver on.

    With the resentment towards the GOP and Republicans in general, don't be surprised when Obama wins again in 2012, despite all of the opposition. Realize that for the first two years of his presidency, having Democratic control of both the House and the Senate yielded a less catastrophic set of events than the last year. Since then, it's nothing but a bunch of children bickering over a toy.

    Clean house and put people in with the proven track records of doing what they had promised... of doing what's best for the American Public and not of Themselves.

    August 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. jorge washinsen

    go back to sleep J Edgar.

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. ryan NOLA

    All parties act like Royalty, it is a very sad time for America. I am glad the tea party brought this all to lite. I recommend more term limits, and do your own research, do not believe your fav. party. Think back to the principles of why our country was formed. Today, to many people beleive they are owed something from there country, but the reverse is true. Last, i feel that our country should never be able to give aid, or grants or go to war, unless attcked directly, UNTIL our debt is balanced..........

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. nagrom

    Gee Maggie I didn't see anywhere in the reporting that we quizzed 900 democrats and 100 repukes. Would you like to think again or is that a misnomer on your part? Telephoning 1000 people is telephoning 1000 people! DUHHHHHHH!!!!

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. twb

    My initial reaction is to can every single person in congress in the upcoming elections! I realize my reaction is very hostile and would probably do more to destablize the US.

    However, I will once again do my homework and know the voting record of every single seated congressman within in my voting grasp! Their records will doom them or save them. You are either for the people of the US or against the US.

    As an example -> You voted to continue to send jobs to other countries and continue giving companies breaks for doing so – you are OUT.

    I make the above statement with 1 exception... A tea party candidate will NEVER get my vote. What a complete bunch of A-holes!!! Shame on anyone who voted for tea party candidate.....

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. George

    We have term limits now... they are called elections. If only we, the people of the US, didn't underestimate the power of large groups to do stupid things.

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Mr lt

    Do they think it OK to drop 15% off my 401k, and yours too, BTW? Just to make a point? Is this what Americans want?

    August 9, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. ZeroGods

    It's great that Americans on both ends of the political spectrum are waking up to the fact that we need to get deficits under control. But we need to be careful - we can't allow right-wingers like the Tea Party to own this issue. We need to be smart about trimming budgets, getting rid of things we don't need (e.g. enormous military) and keeping things that actually make this a great country (e.g. education, healthcare). Let's elect some centrist politicians who can do the right thing without endless bickering – cut spending, raise taxes, and balance the budget!

    August 9, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. LuigiPastram

    We need another revolution, one that gives government back to the people, for the people, and of the people. We've allowed representative government to become a corporate shell game, run by and for those with money. Capitalism is NOT in the constitution, greed is NOT in the constitution, destruction of the country and the world for private gain is NOT in the constitution. Throw the bums out, and make sure the next round of bums understand who they really respresent.

    August 9, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. DC Johnny

    Why is it always about the Republicans being bought and paid for by big business, but never about the Democrats being bought and paid for by big unions? Hypocrisy, much?

    August 9, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. grizzly

    Starting with Pelosi, Reid we need to get ridd of these folks. They have been in Washingto far too long and they are ineffective. Let's make sure we get rid of all teh incumbents and start with new blood.

    August 9, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Mark

    The Judicial, Legislative, and Executive members of Govenment need to be held more accountable by the people and NOT Corporations. Every member of these 3 branches needs to be up for a vote by the people every 5 yrs. Every 4th yr, every citizen of the US gets a card asking "Is your Government doing a good job" you can answer YES or NO. If more than 2/3 of Americans vote NO then a reelection of every member of these 3 branches would be held. If the answer is Yes then the people in Government get to stay in their positions another 5 yrs.

    August 9, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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