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Yep, Congress' Poll Numbers Still Unfathomably Bad

Boehner speaks to reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on July 28. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you're Donald Trump, you talk about poll numbers. It's what you do. If you're in Congress, well, you're probably better off changing the subject.  

According to a Gallup poll conducted between Aug. 5 and Aug. 9 , only 14 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, and the numbers are only slightly better for Speaker John A. Boehner. The Ohio Republican's favorability rating has fallen to 23 percent, his lowest showing as speaker in the regular Gallup survey. Overall, the 14 percent approval rating for Congress is not out of line with recent trends. Though it is down slightly from 17 percent in March, the 14 percent is higher than Congress' all-time low of 9 percent at the end of 2013 amid a government shutdown.  

Still, the poll, which surveyed a random sample of 1,011 voting-age Americans, and its results might come as a surprise to GOP leaders who have been touting Congress as more productive since Republicans took the Senate last fall. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spent the beginning of a recent pen-and-pad touting increased legislative productivity .  

That message may not be getting through to average Americans. Congressional approval ratings seem to be stuck in the cellar, as Americans — and politicians — by reflex villify the ominous and somewhat ethereal concept of Congress.  

The good news for members is that congressional approval ratings are typically poor indicators for determining the re-election prospects of individual members. Voters never seem to associate their own member with the boogeyman of Congress. Capitol Hill is just some place a member goes to fight against, presumably.  

Either way, the poll does speak to some level of frustration, and does seem to mark another low-point for Boehner, who is seen unfavorably by 54 percent of Americans. (The other 46 percent is split between a favorable opinion and no opinion.)  

Those numbers are down from March when Boehner had a 27 percent favorable rating, and they are about what then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi was registering in October 2010, just before Democrats faced a "shellacking," in President Barack Obama's words, and lost the House. (Pelosi had a 29 percent favorable rating, with 56 percent viewing her unfavorably.)  

What may be most interesting about the poll is what Republicans think of Boehner. "Slightly more Republicans see Boehner unfavorably (42%) than favorably (37%), while 20% have no opinion or don't know him," Gallup reported. (The poll also showed that 57 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats view Boehner unfavorably.)  

We imagine the 19 percent of Democrats who have a favorable opinion of Boehner would make for interesting dinner guests.  

 

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