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Congress Ends 2015 on a Low Note


Leaving not a moment too soon? Congress ends the year with low approval ratings. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Leaving not a moment too soon? Congress ends the year with low approval ratings. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Despite a relatively pain-free end to the congressional session and leaders in both parties declaring victories for their sides, the public doesn’t seem too impressed, and the legislative branch is ending 2015 with near-record-low approval ratings.  

Gallup’s year-end aggregated score for congressional approval was 16 percent, just two clicks above an all-time-low of 14 percent in 2013. Over at HuffPost Pollster, lawmakers had a 13 percent approval rating for the year across all polls that measure congressional approval .  

Writing for Gallup, Jeffrey M. Jones explained that Congress rarely enjoys that much goodwill, “with the average across all measurements since 1974 at just 32 percent” and below 20 percent ratings are not uncommon in the wake of tough economic times. But the current valley has persisted, Jones writes, despite an improving economy.  

“Americans’ largely negative reviews of Congress, thus, are driven by more than just the health of the economy. The public appears to be frustrated with the federal government’s seeming inability to address the problems facing the country, with attempts to address issues such as immigration or the economy ending in a partisan stalemate,” he wrote.  

Something that might be helping drag the number down is an historical anomaly. Jones notes that when one party controls both chambers of Congress, members of that party typically give Congress higher approval ratings than the other party or independents. Not so this year, as only 15 percent of Republicans approve of Congress, along with 15 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats.  

The low marks are also reflected in the latest Economist/YouGov survey , which pegged congressional approval at 13 percent. That was slightly up from one year ago, which had lawmakers’ approval rating at 9 percent.  

So there’s that, for those looking for a silver lining.


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