The U.S. Congress finished with such abysmal approval ratings in 2015 that they will likely be thankful that 2016 is a presidential election year, when voters and the media will mainly be preoccupied with a handful of candidates.
According to Gallup’s December 2015 survey, Congress netted a 13 percent approval rate, with an overwhelming 82 percent of Americans disapproving of the House and Senate. Long gone are the days when Washington D.C. lawmakers racked up a 56 percent approval rating in December 2000.
Another Gallup December survey that measured the public’s perception of an occupation’s ethics has members of Congress scoring only an 8 percent honesty rating. The only careers that fared worse were telemarketers and lobbyists.
A year-end CNN/ORC Poll released on Dec. 29, 2015 showed that 75 percent of Americans were unhappy with how the U.S. is being governed. The survey results show that Republican voters are more likely to be angry with the country’s direction, with 90 percent reporting disapproval with government.
Congress has a 14 percent approval rate with 85 percent of respondents disapproving in the CNN/ORC poll, closely mirroring Gallup’s findings.
However, the new House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seems to have benefitted from general goodwill, netting an overall positive rating of 45 percent approval with just 34 percent disapproving of his job performance so far.
While Ryan gave many concessions to Democratic lawmakers on the massive omnibus spending package at the end of 2015, he benefitted from being a better communicator to his fellow conservatives about his rationale, The Washington Post reports.
While the must-pass omnibus marked some bipartisan victories, it is unlikely that Congress will begin to work efficiently anytime soon.
What should trouble dissatisfied voters is that, despite their abysmal approval ratings, members of Congress do not have much incentive to change their ways. Newly released data from Crowdpac shows that financial donations given to congressmen over the last two decades have rewarded partisan gridlock instead of actual results.
The public’s general disgust with Washington D.C. lawmakers has been reflected in the current presidential race. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has become a viable rival of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by running a campaign financed by small individual donations instead of Super PACs.
Republican voters’ overwhelming frustration with government insiders has also translated into business mogul Donald Trump’s front runner status in the GOP primary.
While Congress may not feel motivated to work more efficiently, their gridlock could prove decisively influential on who wins the Oval Office.