Congress Returns to Mostly Disapproving Constituency

by Frank Newport

Only 19% approve, slightly higher than all-time low of 14%

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the 110th Congress returns for its final lame-duck session Monday, new Gallup polling shows that only 19% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while about three-quarters disapprove.


The all-time low point for congressional job approval is 14%, measured in July of this year. Since that point, congressional job approval has "risen" to 18% in August, September, and October, and is now, as noted, at 19%.

After the 2006 midterm elections two years ago, congressional job approval was 26%. Previous low points for congressional job approval in Gallup's history have included a 19% reading in 1979 and an 18% reading in 1992. The highest Gallup Poll-measured congressional job-approval rating on record is 84%, measured in October 2001, a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


Although Democrats currently control both houses of Congress and will have even stronger majority control after newly elected representatives and senators take their seats in January, there is little substantive difference in approval of Congress by partisan orientation at this time.


Republicans and independents give Congress identical 17% approval ratings, while Democrats are only slightly more positive, with a 22% approval rating.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 13-16, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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