One in Four Democrats Disapprove of Dems' Performance in Congress, Quinnipiac Poll Finds

September 13, 2010 - 11:36 PM
Months later, Americans still overwhelimingly oppose health-care reform.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden react to cheers as they arrive in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, for the signing ceremony for the health care bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – One in every four Democrats now disapproves of the job their own party is doing in Congress, where Democrats control both chambers.

The poll from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute showed that 25 percent of Democrats said they disapproved of the Democrat majority, while 65 percent approved and 10 percent answered “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.”

Institute Assistant Director Peter A. Brown had a simple explanation for the statistic.

“Everybody hates Congress,” he told CNSNews.com

According to Brown, when a majority party and its president are polling especially poorly, the party eventually has to lose some of its own adherents.

“I mean, the Republicans were in control when Bush’s numbers were really low and lower than Obama’s are,” he said. “My recollection is, Congress’ numbers were even lower than they are now. Look, nobody likes Congress,” he said.

The same poll showed Democrats matching an 18-month low in their overall approval, with just 30 percent of registered voters approving of their performance, and twice as many, 60 percent, disapproving.

The last time Democrats hit that low was in Quinnipiac’s March 25 poll, which contained the last measurement taken before Democratic members of Congress narrowly passed President Obama’s controversial health-care reform bill four days earlier

Republicans, on the other hand, hit their 18-month high approval rating March 25 poll, including measurement taken just after the historic vote.

“Well, the health care bill certainly has helped neither Democratic candidates for election, nor the president’s job approval,” Brown told CNSNews.com. “When it passed and Obama signed it -- I forget who it was -- but one of the big White House mucky-mucks said Americans will grow to love this bill and that as time passes, they’ll like it more,” Brown said.

“So far, that has not been the case. They like it just as little (now) as they liked it then,” he said. “There’s a 20-point gap. They don’t like it.”

On March 30, the day President Obama signed the bill into law, White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod told ABC News: “I think as the American people become familiar with what this program is and what it isn't, they're going to be very, very happy with it. Every bit of polling suggests that the major tenets of the program are very popular. It's just that people aren't aware that they are part of the program.”

Republican performance in Congress, meanwhile, is deeply disliked (the poll shows their approval rate is “underwater” at 29-59 percent), the GOP has slowly moved out to a 5-point generic ballot lead for the upcoming midterm elections.

Quinnipiac asked: “If the 2010 election for the U.S. House of Representatives were being held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate in your district?” 

Forty-two (42) percent of registered voters said they would vote for a Republican versus 37 percent who said they would vote Democrat. Another 18 percent remained undecided, 2 percent said they would support another candidate and 1 percent said they planned not to vote.

The numbers fall in line with the results of most mainstream polling firms, which show independent voters moving away from President Obama and Democrats, and toward Republicans whose leadership they also still do not approve of.

In unveiling his results to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last Thursday, Brown highlighted one number he found notable: Obama’s relatively high approval rating on his handling of the war in Afghanistan, saying in his prepared remarks that “ a Democrat who gets better grades as commander-in-chief than he does on the economy is an anomaly.”

Despite being underwater in his general approval rating (44-47 percent) and deeply into the negative on the economy (39-56 percent), registered voters did say they approve of Obama’s handling of Afghanistan by nine points, 49-40. Similarly, his performance as commander-in-chief of the military gets positive marks at 53-40 percent.

Brown explained that the numbers were unique because historically, “at least for the last half-century or so, Americans tend to think that Democrats have been less supportive of action by the U.S. military than the Republicans.”

Brown also had a warning for Obama, pointing out that the dissatisfaction is coming largely from his base are the ones who dislike his performance on Afghanistan, while comparatively high marks from conservatives are lifting his numbers in those categories.

“President Obama should note, however, this his strongest supporters on Afghanistan are Republicans and conservatives who disagree with him about most everything else, while those who usually back him, Democrats and liberals, are the least supportive of the war.”

Quinnipiac conducted the poll between August 31 and September 7 and surveyed 1,905 registered voters nationwide. It carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.3 percentage points.