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. To tell the truth.... no NOT

    John Boehner is one of the biggest liars leading the pack. It's time he quit being 'flabbergasted' at the WH and do the right thing for the American people.

    December 3, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. herchato

    I think that was a really low blow to car sales persons. If I were a car sales person I would be upset! I mean come on, wall streed traders, bankers, insurance sales people, were they on the list?

    December 3, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. iceload9

    The recurring theme on capital hill is they only care about re-election. And this has morphed into ridiculous stands such as the tea party and pledging allegiance to Norquest. The dems are no better, after healthcare they have championed nothing.

    December 3, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. kingsley

    Our lives are being affected with this b/s that the so called congress is doing. I cant see the reason why the republicans has to go out of their way to protect the richest people in this society but they want the social security to be touched. We need to organize and demonstrate against this do nothing congress and place the blame squarly where it should be. The republicans always talks about government doesnt create jobs , so who created thier jobs. I bet you most of these poor people in the south that always vote republican are poor people who will be hurt if social security is cut. They talk about job creators, weve tried it for how long now since bush did the tax cuts , can someone tell me how many jobs have been created. Then compare it with clintons years . We are not getting fooled again let the fiscal cliff go down and restart again.

    December 3, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Jim

    Obama wants congress to give him twice the tax increase he campaigned for and wants authority to raise the debt ceiling as he wishes. He actually wants to increase spending rather than cut it! He counts the ending wars as spending cuts and they are, but he offers them like they are something new that he is offering. Obama is not serious about addressing the nations spending and debt problem. He wants the new money to spend on his pet projects. On things that don't help the average Joe. I hear nothing but empty rhetoric from him about food costs and energy costs. He's more concerned with windmills and labor unions.

    December 3, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Ray E. (Georgia)

    This poll is an assesment of the people, not congress. People are inherently stupid. They swallow the lies politicians feed them and when it fails they blame someone else.

    December 3, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Dave

    "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."

    While they act with impunity because they know the public prefers to re-elect their incumbent reps most often.

    December 3, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. TC

    Yet, America votes in the same people every election. Should be 1 term but America is insane – doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Too many people beholden to the only two crummy parties in power.

    December 3, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Frank

    What is even more telling it not one of them care about the rating. Each know that while the public holds the body in contempt, they also know that they can go home and get elected. Until we fix that, Congress can laugh at us all day long and still get away with "kicking the can down the street" even further.

    December 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Joe Smith

    How is this article supposed to "bolster Obama or demonize his opponents"? It references the entire congress, not any specific political party.

    December 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Nodack

    Two term limit. If you spend your life as a politician then you have no idea what it is like to be an American.

    December 3, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let me see if I get this right...the GOP are bickering and kicking up a storm over a debt ceiling proposal by Democrats to save $1.5 trillion in deficit spending/cuts??? I wonder what the debt ceiling would have been like had we not wasted $5.2 trillion dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq??? Just something to think about!

    December 3, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Asturiano

    Speaker John lies and wont tell Americans what his so-called tax reform plans include. Is he afraid of America's reaction to his gimmicks and tricks?

    December 3, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. J

    Jesse Ventura hit it on the nail when he said that our political system is based on bribery. That being the case, what would you expect from our congress? They have to pay back their debt to their bribers. The solution will only come when the extremist are out from our supreme court and changes to the law will specify that only individuals have the right to free speech, and corporations, money, and bribes are not free speech, rather they corrupt the free democratic system. Until then, life will go on and nothing will change.

    December 3, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Adam

    To those attempting to blame one party or the other, notice that the survey did not ask about party. It simply said "Members of Congress." This is about the body as a whole. People don't trust the body, not one party or the other. They say that CONGRESS is not trustworthy and lacks ethical standards. If the whole body's rating is 10%, then neither party is doing right, or well. This is about both sides.

    And as others have said, we are to blame. A) Continually voting in the same people who do the same things. Kind of ridiculous to expect a different result. B) Giving own party a free pass when both parties are just as obstructionist when other is in control. C) Realize that controlling party ramming things through is just as bad as minority party blocking everything.

    December 3, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. joann

    Curious to see who actually took the pole.

    December 3, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. me in florida

    Term limits: Absolutely
    Medical coverage for life no matter how long Politician has served: Definitely NOT
    But, nothing will ever change because "my Politicians is good, your Politicians is the problem"... so with that mentality, all Politicians stay and no one is voted out!

    December 3, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Macc

    It's the money!! We should have government sponsored elections. Then you would know who owns them. Us!! Nowdays they should wear NASCAR uniforms with all the labels. Then when they start saying crazy stuff, you'll know who is speaking.

    December 3, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Larry in Houston

    @ Don @12:47 pm – – – Term Limits will Never Happen in this country – No matter how much you and I and the rest if the country wants it – – – Think about it – when elections come around, what is the percentage of Voters that are Not Informed ? When they go into the voting booths, and Vote, and if ( IF ) well Over 50% of the Voters aren't Informed, who do you think they Vote For ?? Answer : They try to "remember" who was in office last time, who's Name was on the Last Billboard they passed – when they read the latest newspaper – or who was the last person in their district they saw on t.v. – – – they also know who got FEDERAL MONEY for That Voter(s) in their District – to fill the pot holes in their town – how about federal money to Build New Libraries for Your kids ? how about building a new bridge, so you don't have to drive all the way across town, to go to the other side of the river, to go shopping ? or whatever – How about bringing enough Federal Money to feed the Deer or birds , in Your State Park for the next 3 or 4 years ? How about bringing enough MONEY IN From The Federal Gov't , to Dig another Lake or Pond in Your State Park ?

    I mean, the List Just Goes On & On & On – – –

    That's why they Keep Electing & Re – electing these people . ( There are other reasons also, But I'm not going to write a book )

    December 3, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Boo

    We need term limits for these bums....two terms...AND YOU'RE OUT.....

    December 3, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. martinoshea

    Actually I think this result is an indicator of our own hypocrisy. The Congress is the only ELECTED group of professionals on the list, yet Americans consider them to be the least honest. This says more about OUR OWN priorities and tendencies than it does about the representatives. If we think they are not honest, why doe we keep electing dishonest people? Time after time, we continue to belly ache about our representation, yet elect the same type of person again and again.

    December 3, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. alan

    Reid, Pelosi, Waserman, Franks

    December 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. guest57

    So if Senators holds a slightly higher trust then Congressmen and Republicans hold the majority in the House then that tells me that the public don't trust Republican Congressmen in the House.

    December 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Message for Congress

    Putting you clods ahead of car salesmen is generous. At least in that industry there are lemon laws.

    December 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. AllThatsLeft

    Just look at the first comment on the page. Typical brainwashed comment. First, make fun of the Presidents name. Always effective when you have no facts to argue. Second claim that it's all a "conspiracy!" This poll and any poll that doesn't trash the President must be a conspiracy just to make the President look good. Liberal polls, liberal media, and delusional conspiracy theories. 2014 midterms RIP GOP. Good riddance...

    December 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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