Congress' Approval Sinks to New Low

New poll finds Americans' approval of Congress sinks to new low.

Dec. 18, 2007 — -- WASHINGTON -- As President Bush and Congress battle on the budget, homeland security and the war in Iraq, Americans blame both Republicans and Democrats for the impasse.

By more than 2-to-1 margins, they give the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans unfavorable ratings in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released Monday. While Bush's ratings have been poor for most of the past two years, the two parties in Congress hit new lows in the poll.

"The American people just decided that Washington is either incompetent or irrelevant," said Frank Luntz, who has conducted polls for Republicans. "Republicans made promises they didn't keep, and Democrats made promises they couldn't keep. And now it's a pox on all their houses."

The president's 65% disapproval rating is his lowest since July, despite a decline in violence in Iraq, a Middle East peace conference and victories over congressional Democrats on the 2008 budget.

"Just as the news from Iraq got slightly better, people were focused on the economy," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush remains focused on his policy agenda. "Leadership isn't found in chasing polls," she said. "It comes from standing on principle and delivering results."

Although just 30% of those polled give Democrats in Congress good marks, they favor the party by a 53%-40% margin in next year's elections. That represents a silver lining for Democrats, who achieved only a fraction of their ambitious agenda after taking over Congress.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., chairman of the House Republicans' campaign committee, said 2008 will be tough for incumbents. "I think this is a terrific year to run as a challenger," Cole said.

His Democratic counterpart, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, said Republicans will get blamed. "People are frustrated with the slow pace of change that they perceive coming from Congress, but they also recognize that it's the Republicans who are blocking change," he said.

Donald Will, 64, of Stuart, Fla., a self-described liberal, gave poor ratings to both sides in the poll.

"I personally feel we've lost control of our government," he said. "The president is going about his business as if he was a monarch. And to be in Congress, you basically have to be a eunuch."