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. David Robertson

    I agree! Time to start from scratch. With the mess they have us in now, what harm could it do to have all new faces. If you replaced all of them Washington might get the idea that we Americans can think and vote. Either you work for all Americans and not just your party or you will be out after the first term.

    August 9, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Proud Liberal

    If America wants to continue spending TRILLIONS we have to borrow, great more andmore government entitlement prgams like Obamacare and end up in bankruptcy with rioting in the streets, then vote Democrat.

    The "rioting in the streets" will come as a result of what the Teabaggers have done to America. It's like a ticking time bomb out there. People are suffering and they know who is responsible for that suffering. Your attempt at trying to blame President Obama for all of America's ills will backfire. People who have never sat down to watch political TV are now watching – and they're not watching Faux Noise either.

    GO WISCONSIN! GO DEMOCRATS 2012! THE TEAPARTY IS FINISHED!

    August 9, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. judith

    The American people are starting to wise up to the fact that the GOP is the party of, for and by the rich. The tea party phonies should be booted out of Congress, so we can start having some sane policies that will actually help working people. The Republicans have committed political suicide by letting their party being controlled by radical fringe fanatics.

    August 9, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. citizenUSA

    For the most part I can agree with all this but many are basing there feelings on recent events. Some of these politicians have been in Washington for years. I'd bet that less than 2% of those polled know much else about their reps. How often are they absent from Congress? How have they voted on different issues? What have they done for their home state? Answers to questions like these are readily availible but honestly and sadly, most Americans are either too lazy, don't care or are just unaware. Think of all the things that we've heard about politicians over the last several decades. Same old stuff but with updgrades along the way. We've rarely ever done anything about it in the past so are we all really ready for a change now? Saying much more might make me seem too radical but a radical change is exactly what's needed. Our Founding Fathers must be deeply ashamed of what we've become.

    August 9, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Mark McKee

    we have term limits. we have recall. It's called the voting booth? You know, that place where you'll all go in 2012, chicken out and re-elect the incumbents, because, after all it's the other party's fault, right? Oh yeah, and Nader's a kook right? Buckle up...

    August 9, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Kevin in VA

    Only, we the people can change it. I agree with most of these comments, it is the partisan politics.. We need to vote EVERY incumbent out of office until we get a group up there that represents us, not just the top 2%. I for one would gladly give back the $18.00 THAT i GOT A WEEK from the Bush tax breaks. The very same cuts that gave the top 2% more than the other 98%. FIRE THEM ALL

    August 9, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Pax Whitehead

    Where is Obama's numbers? The liberal media at it again.......this was probably polled in downtown Washington DC. Lame.
    1. We need term limits for congress
    2. eliminate voting rights for people that are on any type of welfare
    3. Eliminate benefits to ALL Illegal immigrants
    4. Eliminate the electoral college
    5. Eliminate unfair election rules that keeps anyone not affiliated with a Repub or Dem out of races (How Un-American is this anyway?)
    6. Ban extremist religious

    August 9, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. A Repulbican

    Like I said give the tea party enough rope and they'll hang themselves. Look how much damage they've done in a year, my god, let's right this ship with compromise and get the zealous, almost insane "my way or the highway" mentality out of washington!!!!

    August 9, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. TwM

    Anyone criticizing the gov't need only look at Harry Reid and Mr. Obama. S & P said that the original plan presented by the Republicnas would have maintained our AAA rating. however Reid wouldn't read the bill nor open it up for debate. As for the President, well when you announce to the world that you would veto the bill, WITHOUT READING IT, you are showing how little you value America. Just say no to Obama in 2012...The USA needs competent leadership. Any chance Bill Clinton could make a comeback???

    August 9, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Bill Roberts

    Republican or Democrat doesn't matter. The fact is that the two sides seem unwilling to work together in the best interests of our country and its people. Vote them all out. Period.

    August 9, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Ed Fl

    Do not forget the White House also. Lets get rid of the CHICAGO Group that has been killing this country for 2 1/2 yrs.All they like to do is spend time and money on reelections.

    August 9, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Chris

    I hope everyone remembers this when they go to vote. Also, I agree we need term limits. This is way past due.

    August 9, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Matt

    Party loyaltie lies solely with money...and the republicans support big business openly, and guess who has the money...both parties have been bought, but the republicans openly admit to it and we still support them....what is wrong with this picture??

    August 9, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Eye of Newt

    My representative is a millionare, working for millionares, who only cares about millionares. When we get rid of his sorry butt, he will have plenty of cash for retirement.

    August 9, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Knightsix

    I do not owe the Government of the United States a living.

    Individuals elected to represent my point of view wrap themselves in perceived cloaks of arrogant priviledge, entitlement, and speciality. They vote their "conscience" instead of what had been directed by their constituents.

    Regardless of which side of any political line they stand on, the blame for the current state of miserable affairs in the U.S. rests squarely on their shoulders.

    From where I sit, it's strangely amusing to see the entire lot frozen into sad immobility due to one little word: "NO." And at Town Halls all across America right now, they are suddenly and quite rudely awakened to the fact they work for US, and not the other way around, and at long last the PEOPLE of this country are doing something about it.

    Just a few thoughts to think until I get to the polls. Knightsix

    August 9, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. DVoice12

    Since the Teabaggera were voted in office and Bohnner took the House:
    -Unemployment Increased
    -Stock Market is plunging (again)
    -No new jobs created, actually they are in the negative
    -Declared ware on the middle class
    -Their only proposed budget plan is- tax cuts for the super rich...

    All done in six months!!! Wow it took Bush eight years. Good job their America, keep voting Republican.

    August 9, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. andres

    The politicians don't have to worry about this fiasco. There is plenty of time for the American public to forget. We are only a reality show away from forgetting. The one thing that may clean out the federal government is a depression, anything short of that and the collective we will continue returning these clowns to office.

    August 9, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Sterling

    Well whadya know, you can't fool all the people all the time. 'Course, you can fool them long enough to do a huge amount of damage and then make the next guy take the hit for trying to clean it up, but, hey, baby steps.

    August 9, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    We cleaned House in 2010 and congress is finally representing the American taxpayer, the national interest and the interest of the future generations of Americans instead of just the interest of "Downgrade" Obama.

    August 9, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Dang in WI

    I find it appalling how people cannot get past their stupid "parties" to realize this has been a catastrophe in the making for decades well before OBAMA. Funny how most people chose to turn a blind eye to previous administrations who helped to create this mess. Common sense goes a long way people. Yes, the government is out of control with their spending, they failed to prosecute and go after the businesses who helped to create this mess as well. Many of those people came out smelling like roses and made millions to the expense of the common taxpayer( you know those who make under 100k a year). I still shake my head @ the bail-outs what a crock. The American middle class has taken a massive blow thanks to the blow hards upstairs. Once they destroy the middle class who is going to pay your taxes and feed the poor and keep feeding the rich eh? Morons.

    August 9, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. gonfis

    Let me see........downgrade had nothing to do with the debt limit increase but everything to do with the debt. Had the tea party congress not held their ground there would not even be the dismal cut that was sent to another committee. It's the debt and the spending, the tea party congress did exactly what they were elected to do and they are only 1/2 of a third of the political machine. Obama's and the democrats plans ofspending our way out of this mess is a disaster and the media and others are concerned about compromise and civlilty from the democrats perspective when what we got was compromise and a deserved downgrade. Read today's Wall Street Journal editorial for a view of Obama's view for America and its results. Never put your confidence in big government.......it always ends with its people suffering.....check history..........anywhere, any time period.

    August 9, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Greg

    Fire everyone in the Senate and House of Representatives. They are so out of touch with America, hiding in their wood paneled offices and sucking-up undeserved salaries. I also want to see their retirement pension recinded...what a crock....I'd love to serve one term and then site on my ass for the rest of my life collecting more than most Americans could ever hope to earn in a year.

    Fire them All !!! And lets start over. From Oren Hatch to Frank Wolf to Jim Webb to the rest of them.....

    August 9, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Carole in NC

    I agree with Charlie in Maine-the state of the legislative branch in this government is in desparate need of a fix. A minority of people should not be able to push the Speaker around especially when he is trying to do what is best for the country! A balanced approach to our debt problems with some cuts(especially in pet projects that Congressmen come up with to get publicity back home ), reasonable adjustment of Medicare and Medicaid and social securtiy age raised to 67, and fair tax rates(with loopholes being demolished and the rich paying their fair share). Problem solved- why does it take those do-nothing but evade people in Congress so long to get things done!

    August 9, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Suppose you find a crack den, which is a place where just breathing the air is addictive. Suppose you kick all of the addicts, and replace them with people who are clean.

    Do you think the new set of people will remain clean, or will they turn into addicts, too? The problem isn't the people as much as it is the crack. Congress has its' own version of crack that it is addicted to. It is called special interest money. Money is the problem in Congress. We need stronger campaign finance laws. We need to take a close look at the influence of lobbyists. Why is it a Norquist carries more weight than the will of the people?

    August 9, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Chris

    We need term limits for congress. No more than two terms!

    August 9, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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