Congressional Favorability at 24-Year Low

  • September 02, 2009

Americans are extremely displeased with Congress, and there are already some signs that this could take a toll on the Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. Currently, 37% express a favorable opinion of Congress, while 52% hold an unfavorable view. Positive opinions of Congress have declined by 13 points since April and are now at one of their lowest points in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys.

At the same time, intentions to vote Democratic in the next midterm election are markedly lower than they have been over the past four years. Voters are about evenly divided when asked how they would vote if the election for Congress were being held today: 45% say they would vote for a Democratic candidate in their district, or lean Democratic, while 44% say they would vote for a Republican or lean Republican. At about this point four years ago, Democrats led in the generic congressional ballot by 52% to 40% and went on to win a majority of the popular vote and regain control of Congress the following November.

The new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Aug. 20-27 in English and Spanish among 2,003 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, finds that the Democrats' dimmer electoral prospects are more a matter of disillusionment with the party that controls Congress than a revival of the image of the Republican Party. Favorable ratings of the GOP remain quite low (40%), even as opinion of Democrats has soured; just 48% say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, down 11 points since April.

Read the full report Congressional Favorability at 24-Year Low on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.