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. Pedro

    Something tells me Fox won't be reporting this.

    August 9, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. James

    My rep is Virginia Foxx. Pity me.

    August 9, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Duane W

    All of you who voted for Obama and got it. Hope it stings going down

    August 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Matt

    Does anyone actually think that by replacing our government with new “better” people things will be fixed? It is not the people in government that are the problem, it is the neoliberal capitalist ideology that we as a culture believe in that is the problem. The politicians come into government positions trying to help, but then are quickly corrupted by the power inherent in the system. The solution doesn’t lie in changing the people within the system, but rather by changing the system itself. That can only be done when enough people decide that neoliberal capitalism isn’t working for them and refuse to comply with it. And that takes action and courage, not merely holding a belief that you don’t like the way things are.

    August 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Jack

    Harry Reid is a tax evader in my opinion. I should know, I own a jet charter company which he has used over the years and it’s amazing as he is the ONLY of my clients whose requested that I break out a 20k bill into 3 or 4 parts, – why you ask?? so he does not have to pay tax on the entire 20k or worse yet, it goes under the radar of scrutiny. How come we can’t all do that?? I’m sure there’s a rule (that congress created for themselves) that lets them do this. To top it off, he has me do 3x the amount of work for little or no profit while he and his people bitch because we can't do the impossible requests they impose on us – like flying into KDCA with a 12 hour notice.

    What a joke these people are – I say shit-can the whole lot of them, how much worse off could we possible be?

    August 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Thorne

    Michelle Bachmann is my representative and I've been saying she needs to go since 2006! She's nuts.

    August 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Bruce

    Your article is flawed and not real time. Yes people are disatisfied with their Representatives, but the ones they are disatisifed with are the age old worn out Democrats

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Joe Rockbottom

    Not everyone, just republicans, the most ignorant, incompetent and corrupt people on the planet. Just them. They have NEVER balanced a budget. They have NEVER paid for a program or war they started. They are just con men doing the bidding of their corporate masters. Just say no and dump them at the nearest trash can.

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    Utterly HILARIOUS to read all the libtards on this blog scream for term limits (which I agree with) yet NOT scream for a balanced budget amendment. THE PROBLEM IS THE UNLIMITED POWER TO SPEND AND BORROW AND TAX. It has now been proven that no matter what party is in control, MONEY is POWER.

    Of course, libtards will NEVER support a balnced budget amendment because it would dessimate their great entitlement society and our long, slow walk to socialism.

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "eliminate voting rights for people that are on any type of welfare"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Hilarious. Wow. I'm tempted to believe that was snark just because it was so ridiculous.

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Robert

    The public only knows what they learn from the media. And the media is biased against the GOP.

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. doug

    moderates, republicans, and tea party, all of the decent people in America will stand united to save our great nation in our most importaint election ever.

    Our freedom, our well being, our way of life, even our lives themselves are on the line this time. It is no time to go around saying I told you so, welcome the misguided but decent back to reality and thank them for their Republican vote to defeat the Marxist Evil Party, thank you.

    August 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Gary

    Yes, as others have stated changing the members in congress could cause stability problems. BUT, changes should be made. For one all that run for office should go through an assessment program, fully and openly published to show his or her personality traits. Also once a person is elected he or she must have two elected votes of confidence while on office. If it is shown that their vote of convidence falls below 20% they must be removed from office and a new election set.

    August 9, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. David

    +1 for Term limits. We should all rally at our respective capital buildings or city centers on Labor day to show our disapproval in a tangible way.

    August 9, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Richard Schildknecht

    I just read that the us government is still giving aid to China. I can't believe it and can't wait to get rid of these crazy idiots at election time!!

    August 9, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Kevin in Atlanta

    I don't understand how compromise is a dirty word. There are 300 million of us in the country. All of our opinions are valid and the Tea Party does not speak for us all.

    For a democracy to succeed, isn't compromise a must? I don't understand...

    August 9, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. j

    It doesn't matter if you're left, right or middle. If you're American, you've been a victim of the debt ceiling debacle.

    They put party before country. Vote against the incumbent in the next election.

    August 9, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. republicansareputas

    TwM hOW DO YOU KNOW HE DID NOT READ THE BILL? Do you have any source for that accusation. He read the Effing boner bill and after he read it he had the GDP examine it. And it prove that it will cost the country more deficit than what it is suffering now. like any other fact and literate challenged Teapublican you sir are a phone-hacking faux news viewer. you should be ashamed of yourself.


    August 9, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Canadian Perspective

    To the U.S. politicians: Stop being so greedy and serve your people properly. They deserve better than what you are giving them. They deserve for you to be acting in a civil manner that best suits the interests of the people – not your pocket-books. Fix health care – every single American deserves it. – not just the people who can afford it Fix jobs, every American should have one, not just the people who go to Harvard. Stop fighting because the more you argue the more I loose money on my investment, and I need that for retirement. It's a global economy and the US politicians are not just affecting their country but others as well – and it pisses me off. Stop being so damn childish and get on with governing! Yesterday, our Prime Minister was in Brazil signing trade agreements to stimulate job growth here in Canada. Maybe you US politicians should the same thing for your people!

    August 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. JS

    Term Limits! Only way to fix this broken system.

    August 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. JOHN

    Three words sum it all up....'Lobbyist have Control'

    August 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. CitizenJP

    The US Reps are egregiously protecting the rich. Here is a 3 step perfect solution for America:
    – Tax the rich
    – Cut the defense spending
    – Spend to create jobs

    Unless the middleclass wakes up, the congress will continue to work for the rich at their expense.

    August 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. annette carotenuto

    Time to cut the pay roll in congress, take away their retirement plain, and cut out their health care. give them the same benefits as they want to give us, and to live on what most of us live on. Lets Clean House!!!

    August 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Rick in Blue Springs,Mo

    Money Talks;
    Just think about the big picture what did the the Dem do when they had both houses ?? They did get something done that the country will benefit now and also down the road. What did the Republican do for the country when they had control of both houses under Pres. Bush ??? Remember it doesn't matter what party you THINK you like just be honest with yourself and measure the results from the two parties. Hmmm // Remember the Democrats really didn't control both houses because they had some fake Democrat Sen. like the ones from Conn, Neb, Ark. and it may have been a few more. So while people like yourself are saying we want our country back well my question to you is where were you when the Republicans were driving you all to the poor farm ? So when you look at who's in White House or the Congress don't look at what party or even what his or her RACE is just look at who has your family interest at heart. ( Don't be fooled by ads on TV) get all the true facts. Last thing if someone says all they want to do is make a President a one termer and vote NO on everything take into account it's just not one person voting no it's the whole party. That's should tell you who's looking out for your family interest, just think do you and your family have two years to put up with a party that's planning on playing games just because the person of a different R...... how sad 🙁

    August 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Richard Schildknecht

    I just read that the us government is still giving Millions in aid to China. I can't believe it and can't wait to get rid of these crazy idiots at election time!!

    August 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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