Super-committee failure may be new blow for unpopular Congress

Washington Bureau

The imminent failure of the super-committee process may have this as its legacy: Somehow, it’s made Congress even more unpopular.

Americans’ regard for lawmakers in Washington has never been particularly high, but this year the polling has been especially grim for those on Capitol Hill.

A recent Gallup survey put congressional job approval at 13%, equaling its all-time low.

A new CNN/Opinion Research survey found that just 21% of respondents say they approve of how Republican leaders in Congress are handling their job; Democratic leaders scored only slightly higher at 29%. Both are the lowest scores in more than three years.


Quinnipiac University released its own poll Monday, which reported that most respondents said they had little faith that the 12 members of super-committee would agree on a deficit-reduction proposal before its deadline. Only 24% thought the lawmakers would reach agreement, while 69% said they wouldn’t.

“American voters are way ahead of the politicians,” Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown said. “Watch for those job-approval ratings to sink even lower.”

Should the panel’s effort fail, as is widely expected, more respondents in the Quinnipiac survey said they’ll blame Republicans than blame President Obama and Democrats, by a margin of 44% to 38%. But by a 10-point margin, respondents said say they want a deal with only federal spending cuts, as most Republicans favor, as opposed to a deal that includes some tax increases.

Lawmakers acknowledged that they’ve given their constituents little reason to have confidence in their work.

“I’m ashamed. I have to go back and apologize for what we’re doing,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

Obama has also seemed to distance himself from the super-committee process for fear of sharing in the blame, as was the case during the summer debt-ceiling negotiations in which he played a more active role.


“This committee was established by an act of Congress. It was comprised of members of Congress. Instead of pointing fingers and playing the blame game, Congress should act, fulfill its responsibility,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.