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. Jeff Edgmon

    All kidding aside, you would have to be either a multii-millionaire or blind, deaf, and dumb to vote for a Republican. Yes, the tax codes need to be overhauled, but not to make it even more easy on billionaires, to make it more easy on middle class, poor, and small business owners, billionaires have teams of people/lobbyists making sure they get every break known to man.

    But seriously, if you work for a living, and you don't have a min of two million in the bank, with everything paid for, and you vote Republican/TEA party, you're literally dumber than a rock.

    August 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. God

    Drag the teabaggers and repuklicans from their beds in the middle of the night, and out into the streets for the proper response by the people. Republicans don't deserve to breath the air.

    August 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Sgt. Joe

    Sure hope Wisconsin sends the TP'ers a strong message today. That's exactly what happens when people who know nothing about the economy and support blind idealogy get voted into office as in 2010. Send those Ryan supporters all packing!

    August 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. bcshepard

    disagree with Rudy's assessment of replacing the majority of congress. You can replace 70-80 percent of those idiots and it would still be a toss up depending on their employees. It is the people that are employed by them that do all the work the elected individuals do next to nothing but vote here and there and some of them are just are bigger crooks than the elected members are.

    August 9, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. MarineDad05

    The GOP thought it was more prudent to listen to the crazy nuts in the Tea Party, instead of listening to the American People.

    The GOP, with a great support from the Tea Part have put their party, and support for their base, ahead of the urgent needs of the country.

    Yes, the GOP won the battle of holding the nation at ransom. The American people have given up some more, just to satisfy the 'needs' of the GOP and the Tea Party.

    But, as this article says, they have lost the support of the American people.

    August 9, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. whoa!

    we don't need term limits.. we need to get the corporate money and control out of congress! Our country is a corprofascist state... meaning the corporations basically run the government. The repubs in case no one is paying attention want's to privatize virtually every aspect of government.. just listen to their talking points. They ultimately want to turn The United States of America into The Corporate States of America, which would be a loose federation of fifty corporate fiefdoms controlled at the local level... this is their dream, this is their goal... we are de facto already The Corporate States of America.. pretty soon the repubs will just take pretty window dressing and pronounce us The Corporate States of America

    August 9, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Dj

    It's a matter of basics...The leaders on the hill were elected to "serve" the people of the United States...They are our servants..Not the lobbyist..Too much money influences elections with their campaihn war chests donated by these criminal lobyists. And now on top of that the Supreme Court rules in favor of foreign campaign dollar influence...Democracy has been ruled by the almighty dollar for years now...

    August 9, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Rudy Gonzales

    I have agree – We must clean house of all career politicians in Washington and in state houses. Entitlements for the wealthy Senate and House ! Military benefits aren't some kind of charity, they earned every entitlement. Congressional benefits after 1 term = free health care, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, 3 weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days -now THAT'S UNACCEPTABLE LIBERAL WELFARE! And Congress has the nerve to call Military retirement an Entitlement? What in the hell are they thinking? I say we send Congress downrange and troll for lead so they can earn their WELFARE. Re-post if you are sick of Congressional crap, and ashamed of our supposed "leaders"!

    August 9, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Dbldogdare

    I agree with gt, term limits are needed. This was not meant to be a lifetime job. I feel we vote these people to represent us the American people, however all they represent is their best interest, as well as the best interest of the highest bidder (contributor). For one, WE THE PEOPLE, need to stop paying for their health care, and retirement. I don't think our founding fathers, had any incentive that our representatives would be collecting retirement from the people they were elected to represent. Get rid of the retirement, they can pay into Social Security like the rest of us, and maybe that will give them an incentive to come up with a plan that works for all people. I hope the American voter’s clean house in 2012.

    August 9, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Maryjayne

    How can you have negotiations when one party comes to the table, stating that there will be no taxes because they signed pledges??? And these taxes would have been only for the top earning 2% rich, excuse me, "job creators"??? Yeah right, they do their "job creating" in China, Mexico, but not the USA. EVERYONE that signed that pledge needs to be voted out.
    I was truly sickened by this fiasco that cost alot of us our retirement (401K) savings. WAKE UP people.....Republicans and T-baggers are not for the good of this country or its people. Its almost coming down to another civil war.....instead of North vs South, religious fanatics and republicans can have the East.....and the sane can have the West.

    August 9, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Jason S

    It's time to clean house again like they did in the late 1800's. get rid of the Fat Cats.

    August 9, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. D

    How about for once people actually back up their tough talk? VOTE

    August 9, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Cyclone58

    Bill Roberts, you're spot on. The only thing a politician cares about is a single, solitary politician, himself! They're virtually all lawyer leeches who have as their only skill the ability to argue about WORDS. They can't DO anything. Where are the scientists, the engineers, the business leaders? People who actually know how to build things that work and how to finance them? Terrified of the sewer that is politics. That's where they are. So we have what's in Washington now. Pathetic.

    August 9, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. carly

    Kick all the tea party Republicans and their lap dogs out in 2012 so we can regain some sanity in this country.

    August 9, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Pertnear

    I have a question – how can Democrats hold a double-digit lead over Republicans when the latest poll I saw said Congress as a whole only had a 12% approval rating? This isn't Rep vs Dems – the people are fed up with all of them.

    August 9, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Nadeem

    The GOP destroyed the economy in a way never seen before in 2008, when we began to get out of the ditch, they said trust us we are better. We gave them back the keys to get a little taste, they took the car and drove it over the cliff.

    I made the mistake of voting for Bush once and now voting republican in the last election. Never again, they are right that the deficit is an issue, but they have no idea of how to govern, not the biggest Obama fan, but at least he is an adult.

    August 9, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. TheFatherofLies

    The pendulum swings... Despite all the present and justified outrage at incumbents in general and tea-party repubs in the House in specific, the election is still a political century away. Not enough time for economic order and financial insecurity to be old news but plenty of opportunity for other things to dominate the headlines. I predict slight Republican gains in the Senate, and significant democratic (and quite possibly, independent) gains in the House with Obama winning by numbers similar to Dubya's in '04.

    August 9, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Barry

    No matter whom we elect, won’t they just continue to do the same thing as the previous Congress?

    Isn’t that what the freshmen senators and representatives are taught to do, when the go for their initial orientation and training in D.C.?

    Are they not told how to play the game and what they must do, if they plan to remain in office and get their bills passes?

    And by that I mean, don’t our legislators spend much of their day receiving lobbyist, who use money and gifts to obtain favors and preferential treatment?

    In ancient Rome they passed a law, prohibiting the senators from having pockets in their togas, when they were on the floor of the Senate. This was done to prevent the senators from taking bribes.

    Shouldn’t we pass such a law?

    Shouldn’t our politicians (Republican and Democrat) represent the people who elected them, not the wealthy, not the corporations, and not the concerns, who are able to use large sums of money to get favors and favorable treatment?

    Don’t expect the Congress to pass such a law. That would be like asking the fox to padlock the chicken coop.

    When our legislators leave office, some will go to work for these lobbying firms, and some receive as much as $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, per year, to lobby their former colleagues and friends.

    Isn’t this corruption?

    August 9, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Robin

    I am proud of my country. These are our leaders...the equivalent to my companies managers and the CEO. Oh wait in my company I would expect these people to be accountable, cancel vacations (Aug8-Sep5) and come up with plans to make us viable. Leave partisan politics behind us and lets do what is right for the USA. I as a hardworking citizen of this great country would gladly do my part and then some. Lets start a campaign to reduce the USA debt...I will make a contribution and bet many others would too!.

    August 9, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. K Parks of Denver, CO

    The S&P downgrade was partly due to the fact that Republicans pushed to have another debt ceiling fight in the middle of a presidential election and because the Tea Party refused to allow the TEMPORARY reduction of taxes on the wealthy to expire thus returning to NORMAL levels. Additionally Democrats needed to cut spending way more by suspending all foreign aid until we are out of debt. Our nation should not be borrowing money from our country's future generations just to give it away to other countries today.

    The people of this country needs to somehow figure out how to return to an average American person representational system instead of the current system in which most of all of Congress are millionaires and tend to represent corporations interests over the average American family's interests. We need to eliminate career politicians.

    August 9, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Really

    The American electorate two years after Republicans crashed the economy elected some back to Congress. Stupidity has a price.

    August 9, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Facelessdrone2005

    I'll believe the Tea Party and the GOP are sincere about cutting the deficit when I see them pushing for cuts in corporate welfare such as defense spending, agricultural subsidies, and the ethanol subsidy. I was flatly outraged when the GOP (!) voted down cuts in the ethanol subsidy. For gosh sakes, if they couldn't cut the ethanol subsidy after pledging to cut the budget, they are all just a bunch of hypocritical liars. I have no problem with cutting entitlement programs but let's see everyone share the pain, not just the poor, elderly, and disabled. And until they get the cojones to actually do that, then I say they are going to have to raise taxes. Anything less than this and it's just posturing. And before you jump on me about "Why haven't the Democrats done this," I say the Dems also have no cojones, but at least the Dems have the common sense to know that if you can't cut spending, you have to raise taxes.

    August 9, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. vj

    Those with the most money always get the people they want elected. I am so tired of seeing money pouring into our district from PACs in other states like Texas, Virginia and several others to elect who THEY want. Forget what the people here want and need. Oh no, it is all about a natioanl agenda and ideology of the self serving.

    August 9, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Gumboz1953

    Folks. "Stop spending"? Really?

    You can't "stop spending," unless you want to tear up the Constitution and dissolve the Federal government, and have all 50 states go it alone, individually. The Federal government has to "spend." The Federal government has to do certain stuff, which costs money, which is paid for by (gasp) TAXES. A deficit reduction plan cannot just "stop spending." We also have to raise more revenue - I think that's also what S&P said in their downgrade.

    Cancel the arbitrary Bush tax cuts (which probably started some of this mess) and remove all tax breaks from any corporation that isn't hiring a significant number of U.S. citizens in proportion to its size (pick a logical number). As for spending: End our involvement in overseas wars, and shrink the Pentagon. The idea of targeting only programs for the poor, sick and vulnerable to reduce spending, is heartless and stupid (and dangerous, since the divide between rich and poor in the U.S. is getting alarmingly wide). This is Econ 101, and I do not understand why it's so difficult to understand.

    I also wish we could withdraw from the WTO (which was a great idea in theory - but not for this planet) and slap significant tariffs on anything manufactured elsewhere, but that isn't going to happen.

    August 9, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Joe

    We need election reform... Elections should be tax payer funded... All candidates divide a pool of money..
    1 – We get to see how well they manage the funding allocated
    2 – Special interest is kept a bay
    3 – Te candidates have a level playing field..

    August 9, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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