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. isaac

    inpich the president enter nwo genereshen

    August 9, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. andres

    As for term limits, used to think it was a bad idea as an educated public would take care of that. Unfortunately we don't have a public that cares enough to vote much less understand the issues, so I now think term limits are absolutely neccessary.

    Of course many states did pass term limits and in all but a few the politicians had them overturned and we still reelected the bums. This time do an ammendment, much harder to overturn

    August 9, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Chris

    Start electing more independent candidates if you want less extreme left wing vs extreme right wing in government. Everyone is too brainwashed into only voting for their party, even when that usually means a candidate who is much more extreme in their views than the people voting for them.

    August 9, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Kevin JM

    Funny, I blame the American public. The majority were in favor of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars but not a tax increase to pay for it, expanding medicare to include medication with no revenue to pay for it., plus the Bush tax cuts and stimulus checks that came straight from China. This includes the Tea Partiers who drive their medicare supplied scooters to Walgreens to pick up their publicly subsidized medication before going to the TP rally to protest government spending.

    August 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. Paul Revere

    Exactly, they've convinced enough of the middle class that some how they will benefit from their scheme of trickle down they've captured enough swing votes to slow this country down. Trickle down economics is a joke, shame, if you believe in that I've got a check in the mail for all you fools. But I must admit there was a time before the implosion of all the deregulation that I believed it would work until they fleeced the entire nation and transferred the debt to the American Taxpayer, I say nationalize it all were paying for it all anyway!!!!!!!!!!!! Hooo-ah!!!!!

    August 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. josh66

    Huray! Vote the Republicans out. The Democrats under Pelosi and Reid must have been doing so great a job. When Bush was president and the dems controlled the house and the senate, it was GWB fault. Now Obama is president, the Dems control the senate, it is still the republicans fault. Giving a dog a bad name to hang it.

    August 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Bill in Florida

    We need a "Clean House Party". A party with no candidates and who's only focus is to fire everyone in Washington. Democrats, Republicans & Independents. Everyone. Maybe then these politicians might wake up and start representing the People instead of their wallets and their rich buddies wallets. A Party that accepts all views, conservative & liberal, and only needs to agree on one thing "It is time to clean house". For those who say we shouldn't clean house? Could fresh members really do a worse job?

    To bad we couldn't get a celeb to get it going, like John Stewart or someone with a large following.

    August 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC


    Party loyaltie lies solely with money...and the republicans support big business openly, and guess who has the money...both parties have been bought, but the republicans openly admit to it and we still support them....what is wrong with this picture??
    I would guess it means that Republicans have more money. But, what is wrong is that it is a slap in our faces that says there isn't a thing that you, the people, can do about it.

    August 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I don't know how but we MUST GET GOOD PEOPLE TO RUN and replace everyone in Congress, THEN end lobbying as we know it.

    August 9, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Anomic Office Drone

    In 2002 the debt ceiling was $6.4 trillion. In October, 2008 it hit $11.3 trillion.

    If this is news to you, do some more research.

    August 9, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Sy2502

    The Democrat Congress got things done, they just were all things the American public didn't like. Then the Republicans got into Congress and couldn't get anything done at all. Either way, us little people are screwed.

    August 9, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Mike A

    Why is no one pointing out how much GOLD just went up and who the people who sell it, dump their advertising dollars to pro-republican talk radio? It seems to me that the people who sell gold would want the stock market to crash...

    August 9, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. ART

    To all you morons who voted in the teabaggers are you happy now?

    August 9, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Anothermuse

    So primarily, we don't like anybody...2008 the pendulum swung way left in response to the Bush era. In 2010 the pendulum swung way right thanks to the tea party and general disgust with the Dems..well, and two years with no new jobs. So 2012 comes and where does the pendulum go. Historically it should go back to the middle, but there are no centrist candidates available, because the media only desire polar candidates since the sell better and make better sound bytes

    August 9, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. conoclast

    The election is still over a year off, a looong way considering the US voters' attention span. Factor in the media sh*tstorm of corporate spin and disinformation we're about to witness (courtesy of the Citizens-United SCOTUS debacle) and you've got the recipe for another "WTF" American exercise in irrelevance. Last time it gave us the tea party: what's next?

    August 9, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. lauradet

    I was not included in the survey, but if I were I would have said that the Republicans and T-party is most definitely unfavorable for all months.

    August 9, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. FrankInKy

    Speaking as a Kentuckian, I would love to vote Mitch McConnell out of office. He has a record of constantly putting his party ahead of his country, we need someone to serve the people of our state and not someone who chooses instead to serve his re-election.

    August 9, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Dale

    Political parties are for people who are too lazy to form their own opinions. Think. Be independent.

    August 9, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Big Al

    Voters should give the boot to any member of Congress that has been there longer than 10 years. But you know what? The voters are stupid. They will continue to re-elect Pelosi, Reid, Boxer, Shumer, Feinstein, Mcconnell, Boehner, Cantor, Kyle, etc. How pathetic. Americans deserve what they get.

    August 9, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. DRS

    We need something in place to be able go get rid of them whatever we want to do it. We need to ask them now to resign. They don't deserve the job. These people are on summer vacation and the country in flames. Lets ask them to resign.

    August 9, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Justin

    Yay for nutjob Tea Baggers dragging down the GOP and LOL @ the GOP for being stupid enough to support the Tea Baggers. Either way, I don't vote for people who vote against my needs. I'm a college student from the middle class who's environmentally conscious. Therefore, Tea Baggers & GOP = No Thanks.

    August 9, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. JD

    Get rid of them ALL....let us (the citizens) vote on the issues via their Congressional App using the Internet or home phone. Eliminate Congress == massive savings and the ROI for the govt could be huge. Congress has served its purpose and is now just a cluster of dysfunctional folks who like to hear themselves purport to represent their constituents.

    August 9, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. john locke

    It wouldn't matter. When the GOPs only goal is to remove President Obama we'd just get a new crop with the same mind-set.

    August 9, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Dave

    No surprise here. Republicans are going to find out what real grass-roots looks like!

    August 9, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. DRS

    If we can not get rid of them ASP, we need something in place for them to have fix term and go home.

    August 9, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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