How low can Congress go?
Today’s answer: There’s not much lower they can go.
Polls out Wednesday painted a bleak picture of Americans’ views of their federal legislators. Really bleak.
In an Associated Press-GfK poll, Congress dropped to an approval rating of 5%. No typo there. To rub salt into the wound: With the margin of error, the real figure could actually be just over 1%.
It’s little surprise that the poll showed, as many have in recent days, that no one in Washington is looking good as a result of the government shutdown, which began Oct. 1. But Republicans are faring particularly badly.
Compared to Congress, President Obama has a bountiful approval rating — a turgid 37%. Harry Reid, the Nevada senator and Democratic leader in the Senate, and Republican John Boehner, the House Speaker, fell between Congress and the President on the approval scale, each with 18% approval ratings.
It might be tempting for partisans to cast a skeptical eye; the poll employed Internet technology rather than the usual phone-call polling. Except that a Gallup poll released Wednesday employed the old-style tactics and also found Republicans wanting. Very wanting.
According to Gallup, the Republican Party was viewed favorably by only 28% of Americans, down a startling 10 points from a month earlier. That was the lowest rating for either party since Gallup first started asking the question 21 years ago. The previous low point for Republicans came in late December 1998, the residue of their effort to impeach President Clinton.
Democrats did not escape the current standoff unscathed; their favorability rating was down four points from September, but that left the party at 43% positive, a substantial edge over Republicans.
The historic low for Democrats was 41% in late March 2010. Irony alert: That low came just after President Obama and Democrats in Congress pushed through the healthcare law. (It passed in the House 219 to 212, without a single Republican vote.) That’s the same healthcare law that Republicans insisted on gutting, leading to the budget impasse that has caused their numbers to plummet.