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Congressional approval ratings at record lows — why aren't Democrats more worried?

July 8, 2008 |  2:10 pm

Congressional approval ratings at record lows, Barack Obama works with Democrats in Congress, Republicans worry about unfair blame The Christian Science Monitor says Congress is squirming in its seat, and for good reason:

A recent Gallup Poll confirms what many lawmakers say they're hearing from their constituents: that confidence in Congress has never been lower. Only 12 percent of Americans say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress as an institution – the lowest level ever for any US institution since Gallup began asking the question 35 years ago. Congressional job approval, a slightly different question, has dropped to 18 percent.

And as the Wall Street Journal points out, "White House officials ... note that approval ratings for Congress are even lower than the president's — at an abysmal 13% in the latest Journal poll." Ouch.

But do they really care? Republican Reps. Tom Udall and Tim Murphy don't hide their concern in back-to-back NPR interviews — but, as the Monitor points out, voters seem pretty happy with their individual representatives.

Even better for Congressional Democrats, the Monitor points out, "Some Republicans worry that the public doesn't know enough about Congress to blame the right party":

"Not only does Congress have an approval rating below bubonic plague and head lice, I saw a recent poll that as many as 40 percent of people still believe that Congress is in Republican hands," says Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas.

Even some Republican groups, points out Robert Novak, have had enough:

The Lincoln Club of Orange County is telling the GOP leaders of both the House and Senate that it is too late to repent. They must go -- or else lose big money.

The message: "Come Nov. 5, should the current GOP leadership in either house survive to lead in a new Congress, the Lincoln Club of Orange County will review the financial backing of all congressional Republicans, and we urge others to do likewise. A GOP caucus that would re-elect such leaders is not one we would likely continue to support. Because, simply put, we refuse to support a permanent minority."

That may be tough love, but Dems are all too happy to blame their record on a stubborn Republican minority. Daniel W. Reilly of Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn't letting the deadlock get him down, and Barack Obama's making sure Congressional Democrats are seen as part of the solution rather than the problem.

While we're at it:


-- Amina Khan

*Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

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