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. Ralph

    Those extreme Republicans and, (so called), TPP/ Tea Party "Patriots" deserve to be voted out of office in 2012. Firstly, its easy to "arm chair quarterback". Its not so easy to put theories into actual practice. Secondly, these people are actually anarchists, because they have said they will not yield nor compromise, regardless the consequences. Thirdly, given their extremist, Brinkmanship agenda, they deserve to be voted out of office.

    I just hope the USA can survive until they are removed from office.

    August 9, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. gremlin_us

    well at least 2012 will be interesting.

    August 9, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Anthony

    To put this poll in perspective, in 1994, when Democrats lost 54 seats in the House of Representatives, costing them the control of the House for the first time in 40 years, a majority of Americans still liked their own representative.

    Congratulations, Republicans. You have made history. Watch out for the tsunami that is coming in 2012.

    August 9, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Done With You All

    my response to obama is we are stockpiling food and ammo and we got our BIBLES

    August 9, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. abnguy

    I think there will be a larger anti-incumbent wave in 2012. The Senate will change hands and the presidency. The house may be up for grabs also if the Democrats find a coherent message.

    August 9, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Len

    Charlie in Maine,

    I could not have said it better. The voting American public needs to do their homework on candiates before they run to the polls and beleive what Rush Limbaugh's of the world say. The Tea Party is destroying the middle calss and the GOP allowed it to happen because they only care about the next election!

    August 9, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. Whatever

    Vote them out! Constitution amendment to put in term limits. If a Congressman or woman or in the Senate should honesty propose this will receive a ton of support. If the President and VP can only serve 2 terms, then the same should apply to Congress and the State. Along with the term limits, cut their salaries, benefits, pension and any other perk they get. Those who really want to serve 'We, the people" will rise to the top of the crap barrel!!!!

    August 9, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Stacey

    We The People will throw those bums out of Congress in 2012!

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE 2012!

    August 9, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Pam

    Yes it is time to clean house! Starting with Boehner and his fellow GOP'ers!
    Time for Americans to stand up and fight back
    1. term limits – no more than 2 terms
    2. end of FERS program – let them eat 401(k)s!
    3. vote out every member who does not agree to a 50 percent across the board pay cut for all members of Congress

    August 9, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. GoldenGate

    Who are you going to clean house with? You can't wait for the election, you have to get rid of incumbents in the PRIMARIES. I am worried that a wave of anti-incumbency will bring in a bunch of Tea Party Libertarians or other nut cases. When you vote AGAINST your incumbent, make sure you know who you are vote FOR.

    August 9, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Youngberg

    Clean your own house. They won't be electing any Obama fans as our Senotor or my House district. Anyone with a pulse and half a brain can see someone that was so woefully unprepared to be President has already done irreparable damage. Mr. Divisive is going back to Chicago after one term.

    August 9, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. CB002

    I'd like to see most of the current members of Congress do the noble thing and not seek reelection. As a whole, their job performance has been poor and it appears to be time for a change. I hardly think we could do worse. We need truly selfless representatives who want to work long hours for the people, not egomaniacs who love the sound of their own voices and seeing their faces in the media.

    August 9, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. marilyn lister

    i am sick of tea party and others putting down our president. look at the mess bush left for him to clean up. he has done better than a republican could have done.

    August 9, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. teena

    What I am amazed at is the people claiming we do not give enough tax-breaks to corporations and that is why they take their jobs elsewhere!
    Well, GE is closing its Wisconsin plant and moving to China–this from a corporation which pain ZERO taxes in a political climate with the lowest corporate taxes in 100 years!
    So, let's get real about PATRIOTISM and place it before CAPITALISM by imposing higher taxes on those corporations that ship jobs to another country while this country, the USA, falls apart. Shipping jobs to other countries and creating jobs for Chinese IS NOT PATRIOTISM it is GREED!!!
    So how about a surcharge on ALL THINGS IMPORTED?

    August 9, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. MTATL67

    I agree with Charlie in Maine. This down grade (warrented or not) never would have been given if the extremist group the Tea Party wouldn't have stopped vote on the $4T agreement that Speaker Boehner and the President came to. All those Ameican's who's 401K lost this week can be laid at the feet of the GOP /Tea Party.

    August 9, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. C. Howe Yulikit

    Hilarious! The GOP manufactures an astroturf organization called the "Tea Party" and then they can't control their monster. And they are righteously being blamed for this entire debacle. 2012 will be the end of them.

    August 9, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Darth Vadik, CA

    Point is that people want quick fixes after years and years of irresponsibly...

    ...and now Democrats rightfully blame but do NOTHING about the lack of oversight in the last 30 years created by this ridiculous "trickle down economics" idea and that the business left alone will blossom into a Capitalistic utopia...

    ...and the Republicans blame every single person, except themselves of course, because everyone one else but themselves is an elitist lazy freeloader who lives off of their (own) "hard work" (at Wall Mart, or Kenny's Shoes, etc...)

    So what is the solution?

    WE ALL broke it (in one way or another by being irresponsible) and WE ALL must pay for it....

    ...no one likes it, but that is how it is. There is no quick fix folks.

    August 9, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. sparky91

    Members of congress will put their own spin on these finding and somehow those brainiacs will walk away thinking this poll actually increased their likelihood of re-election. It's more than obvious our representatives do NOT represent the people. I like what comedian Robin Williams suggested, ALL of the reps should wear contributor patches on their suits.

    August 9, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Tom

    But booting them all won't do any good if we just put more democrats and republicans back in office. We independent candidates, and lots of them. Folks with no dogma shutting down half (or more) of their brains. Folks willing to try new solutions to problems rather than insisting the same old nonsense will really work this time for sure.

    August 9, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Economic-Pretense...!

    Market-crash or manipulation...?
    Government-led stimului will grow the economy, true or false...?
    Growing the deficit and debt does it matter...?

    All the above actions end in self-defeat...!

    Americans and people around the world know that over-consumption in the long-run
    leads to a down-fall. People must demand from their Governments that economic growth must me
    earned and not bought...................!

    August 9, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Suncatcher

    I don't blame Obama, the Tea Party, the Dems or the GOP. I blame them ALL. There are very few of us taxpayers left. We have been screaming at Washington to STOP SPENDING. We cannot afford it. NO ONE IS LISTENING. Enough is enough. If our so-called "representatives" in Washington won't listen to us – we get rid of them and replace them with people who WILL. I am from Taxachusetts and have HAD it. Voters here were mad enough to put Scott Brown in Ted Kennedy's Senate seat – not that Kennedy "owned" it in the first place... 2012 had better be a year of TAXPAYER CHANGES. And don't be hoodwinked by RINOS AND DINOS!

    August 9, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. oneSTARman

    DISSOLVE CONGRESS – Other countries do it why not us? Dysfunctionality in Congress cost American Retirement Funds $1,000,000,000,000 This week. NOT over a debate on our Spending Priories; but as a STUNT to Shut down OBAMA'S Government. When Race Hatred trumps preserving the Nation its TIME for the TERRORISTS to Go NOW! They have HURT America Enough.

    August 9, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. rs

    I live in AZ. Our GOP/TP legislators ALL swore and oath to Grover Norquist- in other words, they aren't working for the betterment of Arizonans and Americans- just Grover and his "Club for Growth" .
    This ought to be illegal- meanwhile Gitmo has lots of room. The anti-American GOP/TP should be put there. Maybe they can crash Cuba's economy for a change of pace.

    August 9, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Billy Davis

    Mr BB. What rock have you ben hiding under? The POTUS wanted $4T in cuts and $1B in revenue. The GOP wanted $2T in cuts and no new revenue. Standard and Poor's cited the failure to do a combination of big cuts and revenue pushed them to downgrade the U.S. S&P is clearly for the Grand Deal the POTUS proposed.

    August 9, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Maggie

    CNN is conducting a poll and I am sure there are more democrats being asked the question so of course the percentage will remain higher than the republicans. CNN's poll means absolutely nothing because it is not being done based on a neutral stance because we all know that they totally back Obama and the democrats.

    August 9, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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