Opinion: Now that the Democratic Congress is back in session, its approval decline resumes -- to only 18%


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Now that Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress are back at work after another vacation, their decline in voter approval has resumed in the polls.

A new Gallup/USA Today Poll conducted last week and published this morning reveals that Americans’ approval of Congress, controlled by Democrats since January 2007, has dropped another point from August, down to 18%.


Fully 77 out of every 100 Americans disapproves of the job Congress is doing, up from 73% last spring.

The new poll numbers, especially if reiterated by others in coming days, are likely to force the fall’s political storyline back on the Democrats’ Day of Reckoning, Nov. 2, and off of preferred distractions such as the Tea Party’s political spell over so many.

Additionally, as the Washington Post reports this morning, more Democrat candidates are now distancing themselves from their party’s Washington leadership in hopes of salvaging their jobs. This strangely does not include Pennsylvania’s one-time rebel Rep. Joe Sestak, who defied White House wishes and job offers to successfully challenge newly-discovered Democrat incumbent Arlen Specterin the primary. In a reconciliation fueled by dual expediency, Obama will campaign today for Sestak, who trails conservative Republican Pat Toomey in polls.

Particularly worrisome for Democrats, with President Obama’s first midterm elections looming.... just 43 days, is that the approval of Congress has already sunk below the lowest Gallup approval ever recorded in a midterm year, the 21% recorded in 1994 and 2006. And everyone remembers what happened in those two years -- both times unhappy American voters collectively turned both houses of Congress over to the minority party, to the Republicans in ’94 and the Democrats in ’06.

The latest 18% approval is also nearing Gallup’s historic 14% low recorded in July 2008.

Of course, large majorities of conservatives and Republicans still disapprove of this Congress. Now, independents do too.

However, oops, the really new bad news for House Speaker Nancy ‘It’s My Gavel’ Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry ‘What Iceberg?’ Reid is that now a majority of its base -- as in, liberals -- disapproves of their job, a sharp drop from just a year ago.


Today, only about a third of them approve of the work by the overwhelming Democrat majorities that same base so enthusiastically sent off to Washington with the Great Change Agent in November 2008.

Such lack of liberal support also helps explain the growing gap in voter enthusiasm, high for the GOP, not so much among dispirited Democrats, which plays out in voter turnout.

Previous Gallup surveys have shown that neither political party is currently beloved by Americans. What Republicans have going for them, however, is that they are not Democrats, who’ve been in charge of both sides of Capitol Hill for the past 44 months of spending to believe in.

Gallup notes the decline of approval for the Democratic Congress has closely paralleled the plunge in approval of Obama, who also happens to be a Democrat. They all dropped during the summer of 2009 when the public said J-O-B-S were its top priority and Obama and Congress knew that healthcare was more important. A large plunge occurred last October, then a leveling off and another decline again during this alleged recovery summer.

Amid all the poll watching on the national level, less noted nationally is that on Nov. 2 upwards of 7,000 state legislators will also be elected across the country. High GOP turnout is likely to benefit that party on the state level and among the 37 governor’s races.

Why does that matter? Well, come 2011 those newly-elected state legislators and governors will be using this year’s census data to redraw congressional districts that will endure until 2021. And for some strange reason historically the outlines of the newly-drawn districts generally seem to favor the majority party drawing them.


-- Andrew Malcolm

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