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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sour Attitude Toward Congress a Boon for Dems?

The image of congress has hit rock bottom. As Paul Kane and Scott Clement report in “Poll sees a new low in Americans’ approval of Congress” in the Washington Post:

After nine months of contentious battles on Capitol Hill, Americans have reached a new level of disgust toward Congress that has left nearly all voters angry at their leaders and doubtful that they can fix the problems facing the country.
Whether Republican, Democrat or independent, more Americans disapprove of Congress than at any point in more than two decades of Washington Post-ABC News polling.
Just 14 percent of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest poll. That is lower than just before the 1994, 2006 and 2010 elections, when the majority party was on the verge of losing power in the House.
For most it’s not just a casual dislike of Congress: Sixty-two percent say they “strongly disapprove” of congressional job performance. An additional 20 percent “somewhat” disapprove.

Interestingly, among those who were dissatisfied with congress, 39 percent blamed the Republicans, while 25 percent blamed President Obama, with 27 percent blaming both and 9 percent having no opinion. Respondents were not asked if they blamed Democrats.
The last time approval dipped under 20 percent, Dems reaped the benefit. As Clement and Kane note, “Congressional approval has been cut in half since March and stands below 20 percent for the first time since October 1994, just before Republicans ended four decades of Democratic rule in the House.”
The data certainly indicates that the Republicans’ responsibility for congressional gridlock could be a potent meme for Democratic candidates in ’12. It appears that Dems have little to lose and much to gain by hammering the “do-nothing Republicans” meme in ads and throughout the Democratic echo chamber.
Apart from Republicans getting most of the blame for dysfunctional government, the really good news in the poll is that it looks like President Obama’s jobs initiative is getting a favorable response. The authors note that the President now “holds a 49 to 34 percent advantage over congressional Republicans when it comes to the public’s trust on creating jobs. That is a change from September, when they were evenly split at 40 percent each.” A majority, 52 percent, said they supported the President’s jobs plan, with 36 percent opposed.

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