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Voters Give This Congress Failing Grades

Congressional Performance

No wonder voters want a new Congress 'cause they sure don't like the one they've got now.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Sixty-one percent (61%) rate their performance as poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

That's comparable to the findings last month when House and Senate members recessed to begin their last-minute campaigning for reelection.  This session of Congress has never won any popularity contests, but in May of last year, 23% gave it good or excellent marks and only 44% rated it poor. Things have been downhill since the first of the year, however.

Separate polling finds that 62% of voters think it would be better for the country if most congressional incumbents are defeated this November.

Democrats control both the House and Senate, so it's no surprise that voters in that party are a little more charitable. Still, just 17% of Democratic voters give Congress good or excellent grades for its job performance. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 71% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties say the national legislators have been doing a poor job.

The Political Class is a bit more positive.  While 80% of Mainstream voters think Congress is performing poorly, 38% of those in the Political Class grade their performance as good or excellent.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of all voters view passing good legislation as a more important role for Congress than preventing bad legislation from becoming law. Forty percent (40%) say it's more important for Congress to prevent bad laws from begin enacted, down from 46% in November 2009.

But only 29% think this session of Congress has passed any legislation over the past year that will significantly improve life in America. Fifty-eight percent (58%) say it hasn't passed any legislation like that.

Most voters think their representative in Congress does not deserve reelection if he or she voted for the national health care law, the auto bailouts or the $787-billion economic stimulus plan.

A plurality (45%) of Democrats believe Congress has passed significant legislation in the past year. Eighty-three percent (83%) of GOP voters and 59% of unaffiliateds don't share that assessment.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of the Political Class credits Congress with passing significant legislation. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Mainstream voters do not.

Voters overwhelmingly believe - by an 81% to 10% margin - that most members of Congress are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping people. That, too, is a sentiment that has changed little in recent months.

Forty-four percent (44%) also say most members of Congress are corrupt, although nearly as many (38%) disagree. Nineteen percent (19%) aren't sure.

However, 70% now think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for cash or a campaign contribution, up 14 points from the summer of 2007.  Fifty-six percent (56%) say it's likely that their own representative in Congress has sold his or her vote.

With midterm congressional elections less than a week away, the number of voters who view Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Very Unfavorably have reached their highest levels yet.

Republican candidates currently hold a nine-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight out of 10 important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports including the economy and health care.

Still, 59% of voters continue to feel that neither Republican nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today.  But most aren't ready for a new third party yet.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

This survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted October 24-25, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.  Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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