Nation & World

Trump's approval rating may be increasing, but the same can't be said for Congress

FILE PHOTO - Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stands behind U.S. President Donald Trump, who speaks at the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House awards ceremony, at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO - Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stands behind U.S. President Donald Trump, who speaks at the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House awards ceremony, at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Significant attention has been paid to President Trump’s low approval rating. While it recently rose to about 40 percent, it is still lower than all previous presidents at this point in a presidency, since polling began. But there is a group in Washington that is doing far worse: Congress.

According to the most recent CNN poll, just 18 percent of voters approve of Congress, while 75 percent disapprove. And worse for the lawmakers: Only 11 percent of those enthusiastic to vote the upcoming midterm elections approve of Congress’s job performance.

The 18-percent approval rating is just a few points higher than the 15 percent nod in February, found by Gallup.

For many Americans, the dysfunction in Washington is not limited to the West Wing; this could be quite consequential come November.

Recent elections in Virginia, Alabama and Pennsylvania have shown that voters are looking for new voices. Some of those candidates on the left -- like Rep.-elect Conor Lamb, D.-Pa., and Sen. Doug Jones, D.-Ala. -- have been less progressive than their party’s leaders.

And especially considering the results of the special elections in Alabama and Pennsylvania, where Democrats won in Republican strongholds, incumbents may not enjoy their traditional advantages, given voters’ dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Republicans in Congress face the duel challenge of being associated with the president, whose poll numbers remain below 50 percent. But Democrats also face challenges: In a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, most people -- 53 percent - think leaders of the Democratic Party are mainly criticizing Trump’s proposals without presenting alternatives.

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Proof of this surfaced in the CNN survey, which showed that despite Americans dissatisfaction with Republicans on the Russia investigation, immigration and gun policy, they aren’t certain that Democrats could do a better job on two key issues: the economy and the federal budget.

“The public is split over whether they prefer the Democrats or the Republicans in Congress on the economy (45 percent choose each party) and the federal budget (43 percent prefer the Democrats and 42 percent the Republicans),” the poll found.

And the gap overall between Democrats and Republicans shrank: When registered voters were asked if they prefer a Democrat in their congressional district, half said they prefer a Democrat, while 44 percent say they want a Republican.

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