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. keeth

    "For Republican leaders, there was pride in a hand well played. I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming." —Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [[And who takes hostages? Kidnappers and terrorists.]]

    August 9, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. logic in LA

    While the Republicans lack of foresight lead to a bad deal, both side are to blame for the destruction of our credibility.
    Congress needs to be replaced by people with financial knowledge, not just legal experience.
    A third party with moderate views and the interest of all Americans is what we need.

    August 9, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. carla

    Just in case you're feeling like there isn't anything us citizens of America can do, read this:
    ‎"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

    Declaration of Independence July 4 1776

    August 9, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. stta

    Maybe voters will stop listening to what they want to hear and instead listen for intelligence, reason, and common sense in their candidates. It is awfully hard since more often than not the winner is many times not a good candidate but the others are worse. A lot has to do with the primaries when each candidate tries to attract the far left and far right and usually wins by that. Then in the final election we are stuck with voting for the worst of two extremists and possibly an independent. I have seen some independents that seemed smart and reasonable but seeing they would not get enough votes I have to vote for the lessor of two lunatics.

    August 9, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. KeithTexas

    We need to break the power structure in Washington and send the lobbyist home.

    I am willing to fire my Senator and Congressman, How about you?

    August 9, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. telrider

    Life is hard and it is harder if you are stupid.
    Life is hard now and will be harder if Republicans will be house's majority again 2012.

    August 9, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Tony D

    We need less politicians! We can vote weekly for American Idol or Dancing With The Stars, but we need to send politicians and their entourages to Washington, where they meet with lobbyists against our interests, to decide what is best for us? I say we text or call our votes in weekly. Tom Bergeron for President!.

    August 9, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. Name

    Boot them all; they're worthless & if I see one more picture if politicians smiling while the rest if us still try to make ends meet, I'll never vote again.

    August 9, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Michael

    Terrific news! Now they'll vote for the other major party candidate, and the cycle will thus continue.

    Americans don't have the spine to vote for a third-party candidate.

    August 9, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. bcshepard

    Pax unless your family is an old family that originally colonized this country then generally most people enter this country illegally at one point or another. In my case its 50/50 we have been here since the early 1700's and then my mothers side in the mid 1800's and became one of my decendents was one of the souths lead generals... Entering this country illegally at the time may I add. The country needs to stop paying intentional low-income babymakers that like to sit around the house with no job for life popping out babies that bring in income (i know a few).. benefits do need to be cut etc... because the top of the middle class and the rich are basically the only ones paying taxes.. Anyone else may pay taxes but they always get them back (and much more beyond what they paid) come tax season.. That is a totally broken system getting more than you paid especially with corporate america pulling the same tricks.

    August 9, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Marc

    As i said from the beginning – Tea Party supporters are DELUSIONAL because they believe they are in the majority. No where close. Bring on 2012, the Year of the Moderate. Vote PRIMARIES, people. Not just general elections – otherwise you get a choice of bozos and the one with the most dollars always has the loudest lies...

    August 9, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    We need to restrict access to Congress from all Lobbyist and Republicans. Their only access to Congress should be for the purpose of cleaning urinals, toilets mopping floors and cleaning wash bowls.

    August 9, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Cedar Rapids

    '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.'
    Well the survey was conducted by an outside company but you want to suggest they deliberately only called people with democrat next to their name huh?

    'Where is Obama's numbers?' – psst, the article was about congress and the senate.
    '2. eliminate voting rights for people that are on any type of welfare' – ah so you believe the poor should not be allowed to vote. As someone asked......How Un-American is this anyway?

    August 9, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. .... how can anyone be so stupid?

    Palin does not seem to understand why S&P downgraded US credit rating. S&P downgraded US credit rating because of the dysfunctional republicans refused to compromise on balanced plan Obama proposed which is to increase the tax revenue. Don't believe me? Go google S&P full report on USA downgrade and go on the bottom of forth page. S&P directly blames the republicans for not supporting increased tax to pay off the debts. Go there. I'm not making this up. It says exactly this

    'We have changed our assumption on this because the majority
    of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise
    revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.'

    P.S. Obama proposed everything that would meet S&P requirements of being not downgraded. He tried to compromise with the Republicans but they refused to budge. BECAUSE of Republicans indecisive, we are in this mess. Now Palin and others republicans are out calling names to our president. How disgraceful, disrespectful and un-honorable does these people have to be to get Obama one term president?

    August 9, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. nagrom

    Hey MrBB. I do recall Obama putting a 4 trillion dollar debt reduction on the table only to have BONEHEAD walk out on him because he couldn't see raising revenues on the tax breaks given to corporations and the wealthy under the BUCH administration. The stimulus package was also signed off on by BUSH So would you like to reconsider who really is at fault for this complete mess?

    August 9, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Joan

    It appears the American public is suffering buyers remorse for electing so many Tea Party members last fall. Although slowly, the economy had been gradually recovering for the two years before they came to Washington and since then it has been chaos and one crisis or fight after another. The best thing they could do is to tell Grover Norquist to put his pledge where the sun don't shine and tear the pleges they signed into shreds. Then they should recite the Pledge of Allegiance and follow its principles instead of some unelected lobbyist. They have a real leadership problem now in the House. The Tea Party humiliated John Boehner and exposed him as just a figurehead. He had to kiss their feet just to get his own bill passed. He is just a puppet with them pulling the strings. The whole world watched with bewilderment the month before the debt ceiling was finally raised at the last minute and could not believe the gall of those Tea Party members, folks like Cantor and even presidential candidates like Bachmann who didn't think default was a problem. Do you really think these people have a firm grasp of leadership and doing what is best for all of America? Hopefully the electorate will remember July 2011 when they vote in November 2012.

    August 9, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Hans

    As long as the Democrats keep passing out free money they will continue to have the advantage over Republicans. In the old days we called this buying votes, today we call it stimulating the economy.

    August 9, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. bones

    Clean the house out! New people couldn't do any worse. The whole lot needs to go! Get out and vote!

    August 9, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. BriSoFla

    DAK said it all "Vote ALL the Republicans and the TEA Party people out of office then send them all to Gitmo for crimes against the country. Every last one of them needs to pay for their crimes against the economy. If they were honestly worried about the country, that would be different but they have said since 2008 their main goal, their NUMBER ONE thing to do (no matter the consequences or who gets hurt) is to make President Obama a failure. AT ALL COSTS! These people would sell this country down the river to accomplish this goal and they do not care one bit for doing what's right for the country, just what is right for their party. Totally unacceptable and they all need to go in 2012."

    VOTE DEMOCRAT!

    August 9, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Usarnaem

    The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE: Were you asleep during the entire Bush presidency? Republicans wouldn't know responsible spending if it smacked them in the face and called them susan, and you're an idiot for thinking otherwise.

    August 9, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Ferret out the B.S.

    This is all a Chinese plot to destabilize the US and take over as the world's superpower and you are playing right into their hands!

    August 9, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. OU812IC

    GOP & TEA
    The downfall of the U.S. middle class
    Set 2 term limits, some of these guys have been sitting their for years raking in the dough for their own family & friends and special interests and are a big part of the problem. Of course then they say I have been working hard on many issues for you lovely Americans but 2 terms is just not enough to get my wonderful plans into action. A big BS

    August 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Auticus

    As long as people continue to blame one party and claim their party is "the right and chosen one", the country will continue to fail.

    Yes the house needs cleaned out (the govt not just the House of Reps). However every election people say the same thing, and then they go to the polls like good little sheep and vote the same people back into power, only to have the mess continue.

    I don't have any faith in the American people to do what needs to be done; that being to remove the professional politicians from office regardless of their party affiliation.

    August 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. art

    Oh NO! WE THE PEOPLE Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop again.

    WE THE PEOPLE have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Democracy is a Total Failure!

    Viva Communist China Empire!

    May God Please Bless America!

    August 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. brenda

    The only reason Harry Reid got re-elected here in Nevada was by the Mexican vote. We all thought he should have given his acceptance speech in Spanish. I'm sure others will go after the Mexican vote now too.

    August 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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