Bottom of the barrel: Members of Congress honesty ratings
December 3rd, 2012
11:52 AM ET
5 years ago

Bottom of the barrel: Members of Congress honesty ratings

(CNN) - While Members of Congress have a slightly higher honesty rating than last year, the lawmakers are still considered the least trusted professionals by the American public, barely edging out car salespeople for the lowest spot, according to a new Gallup survey released Monday.

Congress has had consistently low approval ratings over the years and 2012 is no exception, with more than half of Americans–54%–saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill have low or very low ethical standards and only 10% saying the elected officials have high or very high standards.

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The poll numbers come as Republicans and Democrats are locked in a bitter battle in Congress over how to reach a deficit-reduction agreement before an end-of-the-year deadline. If they fail to act, a large amount of tax hikes and spending cuts will kick in at the start of next year, a fiscal shift that could put the economy into a recession.

Out of the 22 professions measured, nurses topped the list, with 85% of Americans saying they have high standards. Pharmacists, medical doctors, and engineers also have high marks.

Car salespeople don't fall too far behind members of Congress, as 49% of Americans say they don't trust car dealers, according to the survey.

This year's rating is marginally better than last year, when a whopping 64% of Americans considered the lawmakers dishonest and only seven percent–the lowest point in the survey's 15 years–said members of Congress were honest.

Senators hold slightly higher trust among the public. Fourteen percent said lawmakers from the upper chamber are honest and have good ethics.

Gallup interviewed 1,015 adults by telephone from November 26 through November 29, a few weeks after the campaign season ended on Election Day. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Congress • Polls
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    The Congress only gets away with behavior we as voters allow. We could vote them out but we choose to allow them to remain in office. We are the problem.

    December 3, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Mort

    My rule is when taking to a any politican.


    December 3, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Yonni

    10% is seem very high mark, who is approving them anyway?

    December 3, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    Let's see .... Republicans have controlled the House since 2010, introducing a very small number of bills related to job creation and instead focusing on social issues (religion, abortion, marriage, etc.).

    Over the last four years, Republicans have used the filibuster in the Senate a record number of times, when it used to be a rarity, requiring a super-majority of 60 votes to get just about anything done, in their efforts to deny President Obama any legislative victories.

    The problem isn't Congress; it's Republicans.

    December 3, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Data Driven

    You mean the American public doesn't trust members of this unnecessary institution, which is the largest locus of corruption and graft in the whole country? Interesting.

    December 3, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    And you ask why America is on the brink of collapse !

    December 3, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Skeptic

    U.S. lawmakers pretend to be working for the people, but are wined and dined by big businesses. The GOP, for one, does not give a damn to the bottom 85% Americans.

    December 3, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. JayT

    Pretty telling that bankers and insurance ppl are rated above Congressmen too.

    December 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Jeremy

    Actually, ThinkAgain, people like you (from both sides of the political spectrum) are the problem. You become so convinced that the other side is evil that you give your own side a free pass.

    December 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Name

    I also would like to add that policemen and city government officials are the lowest on the moral ratings. People don't think highly of them at all.

    December 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Ben

    So stop blaming everybody else s congressman and send yours back to the private sector.

    December 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Martin

    The problem is no one likes the reps and senators OTHER districts and states elect. Most people are pretty snowed by their own senators and representative and keep voting for them. So a negagive view of the Senate and House is really a negative view of the judgment and politics of our fellow citizens.

    December 3, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. jim

    The terms are way to long for these crooks. Vote them out or nothing will change.

    December 3, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. JimAR

    For many, many years, polls have consistently shown that Americans HATE the Members of Congress, but LOVE their own Representative. 90% would vote them ALL out of office, EXCEPT for their own guy. The solution is to have everyone vote for a Congressmen in some other State. We could all sign up to vote for a particular Congressional District other than one in our own State.

    December 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Bill

    Americans are so gullable and patient, we accept BS even when we know it is BS. Millions and millions of our family, friends, and neighbors are out of work and we still buy foreign made products. American businesses are forced to either sell cheaper for less profit or move overseas to hire cheap or slave labor so they can stay in business. If Ford started selling Fords in other countries so they would be cheaper there, it would cause those countries to have the problem.

    December 3, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. GOP losers

    It is not Congress that people hate, it is the obstructionist sabotaging majority, the Tea Party Congress governed by Grover Nordquist. How many people in this country want to go over the fiscal cliff to insure tax cuts for the wealthiest?
    They have dragged out this recession to prevent Obama from being reelected and lost (thank God). The deficit isn't even the most important issue, it is the economy and jobs. but they still want to defend wealth The deficit can be resolved with some intelligent planning after we get out of this mess.

    December 3, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. kc_and_fa

    Ok.. so what can we do about it. It's been this way for years and yet no one has been able to get honest people in there.

    December 3, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Gregory L. Faith

    Technology will eventually be used to keep these people honest. I'm in the process of inventing it as we see they are all crooks one way or another. All have their own agenda and is not for the constituents that elected them.

    December 3, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Jeremy is EXACTLY right-we bicker and take sides while they politic...term limits, the only way to fly!!

    December 3, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Paulette`

    Congress & politicians in whole are working for their own benefit rather than the people who have elected them. They make decisions based on what their libbyist friends tell them. I'm very disgusted with their criminal behavior.

    December 3, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. Jose Hinojosa

    If they have done anything to judge a Favorable Approval Rating I don't know about it. I guess if they do nothing they can't hurt anything I do approve of that. What is so ethically right with not doing their jobs ( Drafting Consensual Legislation ) and letting the Country go to Heck in a Hand Basket?

    December 3, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  22. buzz

    Congressmen sell used cars to used car salesmen.

    December 3, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Harry

    I would like to see the results of a poll comparing how people view their own representatives' honesty versus other states - Senate and House. Is there a top 5 poll of most dishonest state governments?

    December 3, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Navyvet8192

    This is a surprise to nobody. The 2 party system engrained with career politicians feathering their own nest eggs for their retirements on our and lobbyists cash is the "Washington Way". Every time we have a chance to vote in new blood, who are independent and want to do the peoples work, they get overwhelmed by the bureaucratic spin machine from the major 2 parties. We deserve whatever we get, and I for one would like to see us go over the fiscal cliff so we can reset the entitlements and tax allowances. Maybe that is exactly what we need, a cleaner slate to work from!

    December 3, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. Tony in St. Louis

    Seems to me that until more American voters realize the importance of voting in the midterms and not just the primaries, little will change here. It's kind of hard to hold your representative's feet to the fire, when you didn't even bother to vote. Tons of folks out there don't even know who their "elected" officials are. It's pretty sad. Get out and vote!

    December 3, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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