President Donald Trump’s dismal approval ratings are hardly a thing of his own: Congressional Democrats are as unpopular as the president, congressional Republicans are rated even worse - and Trump’s frenemy House Speaker Paul Ryan has his own problems.
These results of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll show that the public’s long-running disenchantment with all things Washington remains unresolved in the Trump era. Indeed, as reported Sunday, six in 10 say Trump’s failed to bring needed change to the nation’s capital.
Only 35 percent approve of congressional Democrats’ performance, while 57 percent disapprove. That’s similar to the president’s own 39-57 percent rating, pretty much where he’s been stuck all summer, lowest for a president at this stage in office in results back to Harry S. Truman.
However bad that is, the Republicans in Congress do worse, with just 22 percent approval, while seven in 10 disapprove. A mere 4 percent strongly approve, vs. 45 percent who strongly disapprove.
Ryan comes out on the wrong side as well -- 31 percent approve of the job he’s doing, 51 percent disapprove. (Eighteen percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, have no opinion in this case.) That’s relatively poor for a House speaker, worse than John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi ever had, but still short of Newt Gingrich, whose disapproval rating reached as high as 65 percent in 1995.
Republicans in Congress have managed approval ratings lower than their current 22 percent just three times previously -- in late 2011, early 2012 and late 2014 -- in 40 ABC/Post polls to ask the question dating back 23 years. The GOP also is well below its average approval rating, 31 percent, in the same period.
Congressional Democrats aren’t in quite as bad shape as they’ve been in the recent past, though they’re not far from it. They’ve seen approval ratings below their current 35 percent eight times in the past, bottoming out at 27 percent in late 2011.
As to the spirit of compromise, the popularity of the disaster relief and debt limit deals between Trump and the Democrats (reported separately) hasn’t lifted majority criticisms. Fifty-six percent say Trump is not doing enough to compromise with the Democrats in Congress, and 60 percent say the Democrats aren’t doing enough to compromise with him.
Criticism of Barack Obama for failing to compromise with the other side never exceeded 48 percent, significantly lower than Trump’s level now. During the previous presidency, as many as 67 percent faulted Republican leaders for not cooperating with Obama.
Rancor within the GOP base is responsible for congressional Republicans’ worse approval ratings than their Democratic counterparts’. Similarly low numbers of Democrats and Republicans approve of the job the other side is doing (14 and 17 percent, respectively). But far fewer Republicans than Democrats approve of their own party’s performance (38 vs. 55 percent). The GOP also fares worse than the Democrats among political independents.
Further, liberals are much more enamored with the Democrats than conservatives are with the Republicans. Forty-eight percent of liberals approve of the congressional Democrats, while just 30 percent of conservatives approve of the congressional Republicans.
Beyond partisanship and ideology, approval of the Democrats in Congress peaks among urbanites and blacks, while bottoming out among rural residents, those with $100,000-plus incomes and whites, especially evangelical white Protestants. In one critical constituency, congressional Democrats receive only 38 percent approval from Hispanics, with 46 percent disapproving.
The Republican Party is poorly rated more evenly across racial and ethnic lines, as well by urban status and income. In one gap, the GOP is better rated by those without a college degree than by college graduates. Notably, just 37 percent of Americans who approve of the way Trump is handling his job feel the same way about the performance of the Republicans in Congress, highlighting the schism within the party.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.