CNN Poll: Time to clean house in Congress?
August 9th, 2011
11:50 AM ET
10 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. StaciB

    Those who have shown us their top priority is making our current president fail.......must be removed from office. Our political affiliations should not be a factor. They have made our "democracy" dysfunctional at the expense of American citizens. They are not mature enough to be in office. Let's look forward. The survival of our middle class depends on it.

    August 9, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Rich53

    While I agree that both parties have responsibilities for our predicament I feel it is obvious that Republican greed and misguided priorities are far more indefensible. A completely unnecessary and underfunded war in Iraq with a simultaneous tax cut was not only ridiculous it was immoral.

    August 9, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |

    @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 reli

    Your post's banality is telling. Did you evn read the article? It's about Congress, not President Obama. Your response is out of context and displays once again, low information votes will continue spewing GOP talking points in spite of facts and also out of context. The GOP/Teabaggery ransomists were willing to let the United States default on its bills simply because it dislikes the incumbent POTUS. Why is that?

    At first I thought it was just political posturing. In the end it is very clearly this is about race. I am white and I am having to at last, consider that 80% of the GOP obstruction is motivated by racism.

    The GOP does not care about the United States. Period. Want proof? Recall its leadership's behavior, Boehner and McConnell the last 4 weeks during negotions. The GOP leadership ought to be ashamed of itself. I am thoroughly disgusted with them.

    August 9, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. grizzly

    Term limits is a must. This should have been pushed by teh voters a long time ago. Let's do it now.

    August 9, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Harry

    What gets me about these forums is how easy it is for people to bash the Tea Party and the GOP and remain blind to the fact Democrats have been in office just as long and deserve some of the blame. Longest serving member of Congress? Democract Dingell, since 1955! You read that correctly, 1955. Second on that list is yet another Democract, Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye from Hawaii with 51 years in the same seat! Next up is yet another Democrat from Michigan, John Conyers, Jr. with 46 years in the same office. Then Democract Charlie Rangel, who ran our tax code but wasn't paying his own taxes with 40 years on the job.

    So you see its not as easy as jut blaming the GOP/Tea Party. All current members of Congress have some blame for the state of the US government, although I will say, it appears that once a Democrat is in their seat, they are not losing it.

    August 9, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. joan

    Pax Whitehead's comments are both insightful and disturbing... I agree with 1/2 of them... do NOT agree with no voting rights for people on welfare... that is plain anticonstitutional...
    Yes on term limits!!!! way way overdue yes on abolition of th electoral college
    Yes on election llimits for those not affiliated with one of the 2 major parties... but I am mixed on no benefits for all illegal immigrants.. that is a hugely complicated issue.... I would not want to see children of illegals not being vaccinated.. (think of the repercussions of that one).. mainly concerned about quality of health for the total population.

    August 9, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. huxley

    Congressional term limits.

    I'm thinking just 1 term. Let them represent the people, not setup long term deals with special interests.

    August 9, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Tim Church

    Please stop calling the Tea Party a grassroots movement. There is ample evidence that it is Astroturf.

    August 9, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. jim

    Once elected, the priority of most of the Congressmen and women is to say and do anything that will keep them in office!
    That being a "Given " why would anyone want them to have unlimited access to power. A wise man once said, " Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." If we don't demand term limits, we're asking for the inevitable.....

    August 9, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Gary

    TwM–You make disparaging remarks about Senator Reid and President Obama not reading the republican plan from the house when by your sttements it is patiently obvious that you didn't read the S&P statement. Where did you get your totally erroneous statements of what S&P said? Perhaps you should read something before quoting it.

    August 9, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Liz

    This is not an issue of voting democrats and republicans, this solely deals with our ability as citizens to vote for the right type of leadership, Washington is currently filled with ineffective political puppets who along with the banking cartels have destroyed the foundation of our nation. We are a nation in crisis and as citizens we must do what is ethically and morally correct to ensure the survival of future generations before it is too late and our country is destroyed by inepts who don't have an idea how to run our nation!

    August 9, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Ferret out the B.S.

    A rating downgrade came about because of the lack of a cohesive strategy to pay down the debt with revenue and spending cuts.

    August 9, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. MIke

    A good first start is to throw incumbents out of office. Everyone who votes needs to do this over the next 4 years. Then we start electing younger 30 something people who are really interested in doing what is right for the country. Politics and constituents come second. It must be this way to get out of this mess.

    August 9, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. IB from Colorado

    The poll sounds about right...Congress sucks, the GOP just a little harder. But swing voters need to be careful voting in "newbies" that's how we got the tea party!

    August 9, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Billy

    Kick the tea party GOP from all government!

    August 9, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. JoJo

    Let's vote them ALL out! Try and rig this election and see what happens you f'n idiots! You have pushed people too far with your games and special interests!

    August 9, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. DC Johnny

    Here's a fun exercise – for all you Liberals who are so fed up with the Tea Party that you run to your computers and post aggressive anti Tea Party comments: Name one legitimate, factual reason why the Tea Party is the enemy. Just one.

    You can't do it. Your arguments are full of blind hatred, and Liberal talking points, and race card accusations. You can't find one legitimate argument for why you hate them so much, or why America should vote them out. They want smaller government. Every financial analyst says the government is massively oversized. They simply want to put in place mechanisms to bring the spending under control.

    And for that, they're lambasted.

    August 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. pmk1953

    Nuke DC when congress is in session so most of them are there and start all over.

    August 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. LouAz

    "Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.” – Benjamin Disraeli

    August 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. JazzyJake

    Wow, is it possible that working class Americans are finally catching on that Congress is a reverse Robin Hood that steals from them to give to the richest of the rich?

    It the end it doesn't matter; the Republicrats control the election process so thoroughly that any change to the plutocracy is hard to imagine. If our only choice is to throw out one set of corporate whores just to elect a different set of corporate whores, what is the point?

    August 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. PartyOfNo

    at The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE – The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends
    wow lay off the koolaid and get back on your meds. any one that would votes gop is off their rocker. Oh no MR. President we cant tax the rich Oh what will they do if they have to pay more in taxes oh I know they will not create new jobs. I still have failed to see where the big corp folks are creating anything other than a bigger bank account. you stay on that gop band wagon buddy.

    August 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Mike

    Both sides are more worried about having more chairs in the big room than having food on the tables in their constituent's homes. Need to boot 'em all and start from scratch. How much worse could it be?

    August 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. superpaul3000

    Obama needs to go teddy roosevelt on those lobbyists.

    August 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. talker1455

    People need to get involved in the process regularly, not just when there is a crisis that causes an uprising. We get lazy, don't follow what our elected officials do each day, then when something like this happens, we as a voting nation make rash, emotional decisions that in the long run make things worse. Many of the Tea Party members likely would not have been elected had there not been such a crazed reaction to government practices, and now look where we are. The Tea Partiers are trying to run Congress like Parliament. We as a country are more concerned with telling you whose fault it is and who to blame than to actually figuring out the root causes as an informed electorate. But go ahead, folks, just dump everyone and see where we end up. Better yet, read up on your elected officials. Get educated in the actions that affetc your life. Only then can we find the actual people who deserve to go, rather than punishing those who don't.

    August 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Mike Rains

    Why are my commentsawaiting moderation? I have no hyperlinks, no swear words, no slang that is like a swear word. It's been over an hour, they are still awaiting moderation. I am trying to communicate with the public forum. cnn you've created a public forum now you are inhibiting me from participating in it.

    August 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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