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. FLORIDA NATIVE

    What we need is politicians with some spine. Someone who will say no, someone who will fight for the people not a popular vote. We need people from the USA in office not some minority leader with outside parents. We need true blue blooded American running the Country. I want the Farmer from Middle Illinois who gets up predawn, works his but off all day long and goes to bed without complaint and knows the Job was done today. I want the guy working for his family while they are paying for their mistakes from credit card issues and knows whats right for the citizen, I want someone who has Military experience leading us. I dont want some panel of pencil pushers telling people thats not good or he may be offended. I think we need a president to say we arent buying crap, we will not spend a dime in any country who sees the USA as an enemy. I want someone who will pull our troops out of these jacked up not my darn problem countries and bring my kids home. Frankly we are trying to clean everyones back pporch but ours. That makes me mad! WALKIN TALL attitude, want to stop terroism, stop parading it on all media fronts and keep the media out of affairs!

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

    This is such a phoney poll. Everyone hates Congress, it's true, but they like their own representatives and will re-elect the vast majority of them, as they usually do. I am personally very satisfied with my representative in the House and both Senators that represent my state and I will definitely vote to re-elect them. Congress stinks as a unit, but I'm happy with my three people.

    August 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. ABM

    My local rep does not respect the will of the people and tries to slam our Presdient every chance he can get. He agreed to the Grover pledge but does not state this openly. This not leadership but partisanship. If you are in the minority party or not in the same party of the current administration – drink some maturity cola and learn to play with the other the kids in the playground.

    August 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. DC-JD

    Please understand, the Tea Party does NOT have your best interests in mind. Please do us ALL a favor next November and do NOT vote for them!

    August 9, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. NoTags

    I see a lot of "fired up" people posting today. Will it last until 2012, probably not? I can only hope people will stay "fired up" until 2012 and tell all these bums not to let the door hit them on their way out.

    August 9, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Be Sane

    I will absolutely vote Democrat in November 2012. The Democrats care about the middle class. The party realizes changes have to occur, but the changes will be made in a balanced manner. Throw out the bums (republicans) who are damaging our nation.
    When they are defeated, maybe the rich can help them out!

    August 9, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. ThinkB4UAct

    Fired UP???? Ready to Go???

    August 9, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. John

    "If America wants to remain viable as a country with sound fiscal management and a vibrant economy, then vote Republican."

    That's blatantly false, and the people that blindly accept that as truth contribute to the problem. No need to look far back in history for proof.

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

    I hope everybody remembers the issues come election time and elects new blood, but I'm sure the same old people will be elected. Look-up their past congressional voting history online and vote accordingly. If they are a Repub or Dem and are voting against your beliefs, than vote them out.

    August 9, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. all for not

    Its easy to bash our elected officials! True, we can all find fault in and how they vote. A piece of crap today will be a piece of crap tomorrow. I find fault with our government for sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. We are forced to pay social security, medicare and unemployment benefits. Social security is dead. Medicare will be replaced by mandatory health care and unemployment benefits can be refuted by the employer even though its our money! I may not be the savvy investor but let me have a crack at it. I doubt I will be as bad as or congressional leaders have done!

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Brian

    I have heard this song before. The problem is we don't have a real choice. The selection process of candidates is controlled by business and industry. After those clowns are elected they are controlled by industry lobbyists. We do need term limits. When I watch Congress on C-Span it's like visiting a nursing home.

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Jack

    The US Constitution should be changed to add the following:
    All US citizens should be required to register to vote and required to vote upon turning 18 years of age.
    The Federal Government should create a Voter Registration system that supersedes state voter registration systems. This card should be renewed periodically at no cost.
    All citizens should receive a paper printout of who they voted for.

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. matthew

    Again, CNN is showing its true color, it's great love of Obama. It fails to recognize the truth that majority of Americans really like to boot the guy in the White House, who up to now will not own up to the ills of the country and still try to point the finger of blame on the previous administration. No one else is to blame but the guy sitting in the White House. CNN, wake up!

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. ricnaustin

    If my recollection of history is correct, FDR created programs and borrowed money in the worst times to creat work for the Americans, launching us into the world's wealthiest country. It's kind of like borrowing money for a home, in the end, your return is much higher (has been anyway). Now we have teabagger radicals who were sworn into office to represent their constituents, however they seem to have turned their backs on the people who voted for them and everybody else now that they're in office and "have power.' Kind of like burning the hand that feeds you. Ungrateful! I'd like to know how many of these individuals in office have recieved benefits from the very government that helped them out. I wouldn't be surprised if most, if not all had student loans and other such assistance.

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. jj

    Its truly mindboggling how out of touch members of congress demonstrate themselves to be. The sad irony is that while they were sent to washington to speak their mind and have their say the overarching goal is.to ultimately find compromise with the opposition. In other words the goal is and should.be to.reach an agreement.with which both wont be thrilled but with which.both sides can live, to get something and to give something. In this way congress particularly tea party activists have defeated the primary purpose.of congress all the while so disturbingly pleased with their obstinance

    August 9, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. obandon

    Every single Republican incumbant needs to be removed next election. They all need to go, they have proved their loyalty to Grover Norquist instead of the American People. Many of the Democrats need to go as well. Term limits need to go into place and maybe our situation will not repeat itself. The Republicans have completely ruined our country in the eyes of the world. Shame on them!

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Dave from GA

    It does not matter if it is GOP or Democrats, but it does matter to get all incumbents out. Yes, including all tea party based congress.

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. pat pat

    Time to clean out the obamanator

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Angry Taxpayer

    Democrats & Republicans are two sides of the same coin. They are both screwing us! If you want to see changes in this country, vote for ANYONE except the Democrats or Republicans.

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. John

    Again, CNN is showing its true color, it's great love of Obama. It fails to recognize the truth that majority of Americans really like to boot the guy in the White House, who up to now will not own up to the ills of the country and still try to point the finger of blame on the previous administration. No one else is to blame but the guy sitting in the White House. CNN, wake up!

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. sonofgadfly

    Come on, people, give 'em a break. We've got the best Congressmen money can buy.

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Horizon

    And yet again we have a reason why the American people should have an option for a vote of No Confidence. Too bad Washington wouldn't vote in favor for it. To them it would equate to political suicide.

    August 9, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Steve

    The recent situation with the debt ceiling and the national deficit gave the best example of how childish and self-centered our government leaders have become. Throughout the "negotiations" is was very clear our politicians were more concerned about the impact next Nov than they were about the immediate impact their lack of action and continuous arguments would have on our economy. Lets just face the facts, our politicians could care less about their constituents, their only concern is about getting re-elected so they can maintain there power position and reap all of the benefits of being a politician. We are the enablers of this mess and we need to be the ones to put a stop to it. But as long as we allow individuals like Sarah Palin to become overnight political legends for no reason other than being put on the Republican ticket, we are destined to remain puppets of the current political process. I agree with some that to simply clean house might not be a rational approach, but we need to make it very clear that we will not simply sit back any longer and allow these elected leaders to posture their own personal agendas at the expense of our best interest. It is time government is notified that business as usual is no longer acceptable.

    August 9, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. kickemout

    Congress let us down. Holding our countries credit rating hostage and threatening default on our loan is inconceivable. Couple that with the bully tactic of "no compromise" and blame Obama is simply absurd! These tea party lunes along with anyone who agree'd with them needs to be kicked out of office.

    August 9, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. skudbuket

    I'm not voting to re-elect ANY one in Congress. That's a promise. Of course, I live in Texas so obviously you know which side of the school yard my representatives have been playing on....

    August 9, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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