Gallup: Americans Think Congress Is Doing Bad Job, See Ethics Problems

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By: E&P Staff

A new Gallup Poll released this morning shows that only 35% of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job. That is the lowest approval rating for Congress since July 1997.

Almost 4 in 10 say most Republicans and, separately, most Democrats in Congress, are unethical.

When asked about members of Congress going on a trip funded by a lobbyist, more than 8 in 10 say it is at least a “moderately serious” ethical problem. Such charges may have hurt Rep. Tom DeLay’s standing among the public; 27% of Americans now hold a favorable view of him and 38% unfavorable. Less than two years ago, those who had a positive view of DeLay outnumbered the negative by 33% to 19%.

The latest survey was conducted May 2-5 and showed that 35% of Americans approve and 57% disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

“It is impossible to determine the exact causes for this continuing slide in the public’s approval rating of Congress, but the recent wrangling over the filibuster rule, intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, and charges of unethical conduct lodged against DeLay almost certainly have all contributed,” Gallup observed.

In a survey conducted at the end of April, 56% of Americans said that most Republicans in Congress are ethical, and 38% said they are unethical — virtually identical to their views of Democrats.

In a separate report regarding the blocked judicial appointments and so-called “nuclear option” debate in the Senate, Gallup found: “The heated debate over the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate is a low-salience issue to the American public, almost two-thirds of whom say they are not following it closely. When the situation is explained to Americans, the majority appear to favor keeping the rule in place. A plurality also favors the Democratic approach over the Republican approach to the issue.”

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