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. G Smith

    People should now take to the Streets to protest and demonstrate against the "DO NOTHING" Congress

    December 3, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Guest

    Leadership? Honesty? We're accustomed to self serving politicians, including the dems glory times have changed, or, political strategy anyway. And you all thought he really cared about you? It's called self preservation and Obama will do and say anything to maintain his position and you have all taken it hook, line, and sinker!

    "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, "the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

    ~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

    December 3, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. MontanaSon

    Monday morning, and CNN is back at work. Continual conditioning disguised as news. Each article designed to bolster Obama or demonize his opponents. And the useful idiots, adroitly conditioned by their unionized public educators, lap it up.

    December 3, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. RAWoD

    I have been saying (and practicing) that the only way to fix DC is to vote EVERY SINGLE INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE.
    It is time for the rest of you to join in and send ALL these children home.

    December 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Mike

    Congressional term limits, anyone?

    December 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. i_know_everything

    we elected them, so that tells a lot about us too

    December 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Don

    Demand term limits. The President can only serve eight years.

    December 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. ug

    Don't forget the senate also led by Harriet the urinator Reid.

    December 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Jimmy

    This only reflects the nature of the folks who elect these "representatives."

    December 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Dave

    Jeremy seems to be the only level-headed person posting here. Republicans are not the "evil rich white men" we have been conned into believing via the media and propaganda. Democrats are not morons. Both political parties have some good things to help our society and some problems too. Yes, term limits would make a big difference but what incentives do congressmen have to vote themselves out of power? The smartest people voting today are INDEPENDENTS who are willing to vote for BOTH parties,depending on the issue.

    December 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. charles

    congress and the president are "do nothing."

    December 3, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Paul

    In the back of my mind, when I hear a Congressman speak, is "who is funding their reelection" and "which companies/groups are contributing funds to them"? Solution: They seldom do what is best for the country as a whole, but do as the "big money" tells them. Amazing how one's views can change when someone is funding their reelection

    December 3, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Scott

    We The People have no one to blame but ourselves. We keep re-electing this trash.


    December 3, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Demand term limits.

    U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri , a great example of integrity and commitment ?

    December 3, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    I've got a gut feeling that the people are going to send Bonehead to the private sector – come 2014 . Guess he will still get his perks, since he was a congressman – but at that time, he can always get a job at his Family's sports bar / restaurant / in Ohio .

    December 3, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Anthony

    Remember house of represenatives represent people of their district not the whole country so if people send them to fight for their district what do you expect? Some districts are as red as blood yet you expect them to comprimise yet the people that sent them to office do not want them to comprimise since that is why they elect and reelect them. Both sides are guilty of it and that is how the system works.

    December 3, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. sammieb51

    We elected them ... we sure did. Makes ya proud ha?

    December 3, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. C. Evans, Texas

    Party of NO still saying NO!! Go figure!! They will do whatever it take to try and make the President fail. God please deliver us from these self serving IDIOTS!!

    December 3, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Over the hill

    Yes, people think carsalesman are dishonest.. all of them except for a family member they have in the profession. The same is true with congressman.. everyone knows they are dishonest.. well except for their rep. Time for people to wake up.. yes, your relative is a crook and so is your congressman.

    December 3, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. A Modest Proposal

    Why don't we choose Representatives by dividing them up according to the percentages in the national vote. In this year's election Democrats got, what, 52% of the votes cast for representatives? Then they should get 52% of the reps. Which reps? Take the (0.52 * 435 =) 226 Democratic candidates who received the highest percentages of the votes in their districts. Then take the (435 – 226 =) 209 Republican candidates who received the highest percentages of the votes in their districts. There would probably have to be some fine tuning at the edges. Yes, a few districts would get a rep who did not win in that district. However, the formula would ensure that that only happened in districts where the vote was the closest, where the voters were most evenly split so the least "damage" would be done. I have to believe that the "damage" that would be done by this system would be very minor compared to the unfairness resulting we now see resulting from the disgusting gerrymandering that is done, the gerrymandering that resulted in the current travesty whereby the party receiving the fewer votes nationally for representatives controls the House of Representatives due to gerrymandered distcricts.

    December 3, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. MiBigAl

    This whole things is way beyond ridiculous or even asinine. I guess the little ditty that I read on the bathroom wall of a truck stop at least 30 years ago still applies. It said, "If pro is the opposite of con, is progress the opposite of congress?" Think about it and weep for our society for the crap pile our elected officials from both sides are about to put us in. And again it won't be any of the 1%er's that end up suffering because of this. Let's stick it to the disappearing middle class one more time.

    December 3, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Congress members honesty and favorable ratings are high if you ask the lobbyist that pay them millions. I don't consider anyone to be honest who places their hand on the Bible taking an oath to uphold the Constitution and then upholds the lobbyist in exchange for money.

    December 3, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Martyr2

    Term limits won't help in this case. Actually it may hurt things further. When we get good politicians in there, we want to keep them as long as possible while we continue to work out the bad ones (yes I know most are bad... I am saying going forward). Then we as people need to start working on electing our reps better and perhaps put as much energy into electing those as we do the president themselves. I know most go to the polls to elect a president and are like "Who are all these other people on the ballots? Let me just randomly check off each one to get it over with." Or they simply vote for all candidates of one party.

    December 3, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Rudy Betancourt

    ..... We need to clean out Congress and put in ACTUAL public servants elected by the people from the people. Or better yet only electing Veterans , since they know what it means to be disciplined and put they best interest of the nation first before themselves.

    December 3, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Bazoing

    The seniority system in Congress means that if you vote out your incumbent, your say in the country's running is greatly diminished. This keeps the rotten old crooks in office. It is not part of the Constitution, in theory it is fixable. But???

    December 3, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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