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. ConservaFASCISTS/Tealiban/Tea Queda

    I call for banishment of all republicans.

    August 9, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Allen N Wollscheidt


    The newly elected "representatives" are purchased by Special Interest Groups of one sort or another (Right, Center or Left) within 30 days after elected - IF not BEFORE they were elected.

    The role of MONEY in our political process MUST be removed before ANY reform can possibly be effective.

    Passing money or othe emoluments to an elected official must be made a felony on the same level as unaggravated homicide.

    Campaigns can be conducted at little cost over the Internet.

    August 9, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. gaucho402

    The Tea Party is an extremist organization that is hell bent on brining its tyranny to the US, no matter what or who suffers as a result. I'm not mad at anyone else but THEM. They've hijacked our country and government and are clearly political terrorists. All true Patriots need to wake up and kick this fringe group back to the swamp pits they came from.

    August 9, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Phil in KC

    There is a falacy in the conclusion drawn by the article. Certainly, the changes in polling number signify a shift by some. But that is not the total reason for those numbers. I fall into the majority that wants to get rid of my House Representative and one of my Senators. But it is not simply because of the recent budget fiasco. I have a basic difference in political philosophy with both of the individuals mentioned and have voted against both since day one. So, to draw the conclusion that I want to get rid of them because of recent events is flawed logic. But it makes for easy press, I guess.

    August 9, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. DumpTheGOP

    It's time to DUMP THE GOP IN NOV 2012!!! IT'S THAT SIMPLE!!!

    August 9, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. epicjourney

    So who you gonna replace them with? Not like you have any choice here. Two party system was abhorred by the founding fathers for a reason.

    August 9, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. CindySanFrancisco

    Bye bye GOP and TPGOP.

    August 9, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Republicans need to cut the fringe

    The fringe far right and Tea Partiers have taken over the Republican Party and they talk as if they are the voice of THE PEOPLE, when they are not. Something also needs to be done about the FAUX News feeding into lies, rumors, and chronic pitching of their political agenda and hate. Until that gets fixed, I will not vote for any Republican again. The sane voices of the Republican party are drowned out. McCain would have been better picking his daughter Meagan as a running mate than crazy Palin. Now we can't get rid of that loony tune.

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

    This is ridiculous. It says:
    “The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone.”

    1,008 people took this pool and that is supposed to be a reflection of how a country of 300 million feel? Polls are stupid!!!

    August 9, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Litterboxrox

    I have an idea. It won't work for tea baggers and religious extremists, though. We all switch parties and vote for the closest one to our beliefs. I will vote for a left leaning Republican (Jon Hunstman) and Republicans will vote for a right leaning Democrat (Wesley Clark). That way all of the extremists will be out, as will the children who were voted in in 2010 and later decided that they didn't want to play if it couldn't be their way. No one running for office will know who to pander to, most of these morons will end up on the unemployment line and the country can get back to normal, which is either center, or just slightly left or right to center, depending on the economy.

    August 9, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. Matthew

    What if we got rid of the party system and people just ran (and voted) solely on their beliefs. Neither party is perfect, but it's a constant tug-of-war between the two. No more voting for the lesser of two evils.

    August 9, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Shawn

    Yes, fire them all...

    August 9, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. MeanOldMan

    Here's one thing that we really need. A constitutional amendment that reads...

    No corporation, organization or group can contribute in any way, either money or support of any type to any political candidate or political party. No individual can contribute more than $1000 dollars to any candidate or political party per election cycle.

    This would eliminate the big money influence that is ruining our country, force the candidates and partys to focus on the people instead of their wealthy masters, probably shorten election campaign cycles cause they wouldn't be able to afford the long drawn out constant campaigning.The biggest obstacle would be getting it thru the congress but it needs to be done if anything is ever going to get better.

    August 9, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. CCHUCK

    So, 1000 people speak for ALL Americans? I don't think so!

    August 9, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. U.S. Common Sense

    GOP hates Middle Class

    Since the GOP has declared war on the middle class, middle class will return the favor in 2012.


    Liberals and their "class warfare" nonsense. "Republicans hate the poor. Republicans love the rich." blah blah blah

    Sorry, but this broken record nonsense is so annoying. "WE the people" means everyone, not just some selective group of individuals who fit into some random income bracket. "All men are created equal" means that our laws should ignore such trivial nonsense such as age, gender, race, as well as wealth. And while Republicans are just as guilty of maintaining class structure (by keeping tiered tax brackets), Democrats are far worse when it comes to ignoring equality. If both parties were serious about "the middle class" as well as ALL citizens, they'd abolish this nonsensical tax structure and all of it's special-interest tax deductions and implement a single-rate system.

    August 9, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. Midsommarvaka

    Impeach Congress!

    August 9, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Dave

    I'd love to see all members of Congress replaced but the poll reflects how folks feel today. Will they still remember all of this in November 2012? The attention span of the average American is nothing to brag about. For example, when gas prices go up 10 cents everybody freaks. When it drops back down two weeks later everybody runs out to buy the biggest SUV they can find.

    August 9, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Nasa1

    I plan on obtaining an absentee ballot for 2012, sitting down at the kitchen table and calmly voting out all incumbents regardless of party affiliation. It is time to invoke short term limits via the VOTE!

    August 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. once upon a horse

    I think the response here is also represents what is happening in our nation today. We have the Democrats here blaming the Republicans and the Republicans here blaming the Democrats. It's NEVER the party they are in favor of. Gridlock all the way around.

    August 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    "Voting in inexperienced Freshman, immature, segregationist Tea-Party congress members into pubic office during one of the most difficult times in American Life & Politics has to be about the dumbest decision the American electorate has ever made."
    Voting in an inexperienced freshman senator to the highest office in the land during one of the most difficult times in American Life & politics has to be an even dumber decision.

    August 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Richard

    Can someone tell me what job in the US can you work for maybe 10 or 12 years and get full benefits for the rest of your life. You wonder why congressional politicians should get benefits for the rest of their lives. Eight years for President, Senator, and congressional person. Let's get them out of office after eight years.

    August 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. LB in FL

    I've been saying this for 2 years now...what these teatards have done makes ol' Newton C. Gingrich's little soiree in 1994/1995 looks like a tip toe through the tulips. Bye-Bye baggers! So long Boner!

    Obama/Biden 2012 + Speaker Pelosi

    August 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. WiredwierdinSF

    Any chance of starting with some of these libertards that think the money I work is theirs to give to corrupt unions, and dope addicts so they will vote for them. As far as what Matt@ says, does this mean that Republicans are at least open about it while Democrats lie about it ? It is so laughable that the idiots like Schumer and Axelrod, blame the people who actually pay the taxes for trying to curb the out of control spending of the Democrats.

    August 9, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Greenspam

    Voters are dumb. If you boot out EVERYONE and replace with ANOTHER GROUP of Republicans/Democrats. Nothing has changed. It will be the same gridlock. What voters need to do is to get rid of the group that they DON'T like and leave the group that they DO like. This is why American politics never changes. You can't just get rid of the bottle without changing the wine!

    August 9, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Adam

    The middle class guarantees the composition of Congress will undergo major changes in 2012. Hopefully we'll have a new president, too. Obama is a joke.

    August 9, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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