Society

Congress' Approval Rating Gets Biggest Boost Since 2009

| by Robert Fowler

New polling indicates that the historically unpopular Congress has enjoyed a boost in popularity from January to February, marking its biggest uptick in approval in eight years. Previous surveys have found that public opinion of Congress improves once a new administration comes into power.

On Feb. 7, a survey conducted by Gallup found that congressional approval sat at 28 percent. A previous survey conducted by the same group in January found that only 19 percent of respondents approved of of the GOP-controlled Congress, meaning that favorability for the legislative branch jumped by 9 percentage points in the interim.

The polling found that self-identified Republicans' approval for Congress jumped from 20 percent in January to 50 percent in February. Independent respondents showed a more modest increase of 17 percent approval for Congress in January to a 25 percent approval in February.

Meanwhile, self-identified Democrats' favorability towards Congress fell from 19 percent in January to 11 percent in February.

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The survey data marked the largest bump in approval for Congress that Congress has measured since February 2009, shortly after former President Barack Obama took office and Democrats held the majority in both legislative chambers.

Between January 2009 to February 2009, approval for Congress jumped by 12 percentage points to clock in at 39 percent. That increase was powered by both Democrats and independents, while Republican approval for Congress dipped by 4 percentage points.

Comparing the survey results indicates that congressional approval booms among the constituents of the majority party whenever a new administration takes office.

That surge in favorability could be short-lived, based on historical trends. While Gallup found that 39 percent of respondents approved of Congress in February 2009, that number dipped back down to only 16 percent by February 2010 and sunk even lower in ensuing years.

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Congress' overall approval rating of only 28 percent is still abysmal. Aggregating the last eight congressional approval polls released between Jan. 15 and Feb. 7, RealClearPolitics found that, on average, 20 percent of Americans approve of Congress while 68 percent disapprove.

Sources: Gallup, RealClearPolitics / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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