According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released mid-January, a record high, 84% of Americans disapprove with the job Congressional leaders on Capital Hill are doing, with only 13% positive approval ratings.
This new poll trumps the previous all-time low of 14% approval rating in August, near the end of the debt-ceiling debate, also concluding the year with the tax debate.
“The climate of opinion is so negative toward political conflict here in Washington, there is such a great desire to see some compromise, that both parties would be well served doing what they can to give the public some sense that things are going to be better in 2012,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center in Washington.
Although, Congressional leaders were back in session after the results of this poll, they voted on a resolution disapproving President Barack Obama’s proposed increase in the U.S. debt limit. They must also revisit the payroll tax cut debate that is up for review in February.
Other factors that contributed to the low approval rating are the uprisings of the Occupy movement. Beginning in New York, Occupy Wall Street has spread like wildfire across the country in major metropolitan cities and even in smaller cities. Protestors participating in the movement began “occupying” in October and have continued into this new year. They are calling for economic reform among other things and cite the high unemployment rate as reasons for disapproval with American leadership.
Jobs have also hurt the perception of Congress. As many Americans began the new year without a job, they have not been confident that Congress is working on helping to solve the unemployment rate, instead arguing across party lines to make sure their party is seen as superior.
In January, 67 percent of liberal Democrats approved of the way congressional Democrats performed on their jobs, while congressional Republicans struggled to win support from their base: Just 48 percent of conservative Republicans approve of the job their party’s representatives are doing.
The payroll tax debate left Democrats in a more favorable light, while Republican House leaders argued to have the Keystone XL pipeline included in payroll tax cut bill, only to have it rejected by the State Department in mid-January, another victory for the Democrats. Before the deal was reached Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio) lobbied his party to a plea deal, which would save American’s on average one-thousand dollars a year in tax cuts.
Also worth noting, is the disparity of the collective approval rating. While the American public disagrees with Congress as a whole, if asked about their specific representative, the average person thinks he or she is doing a great job on their behalf.