If the Democrats have had a few laughs looking at approval ratings for George Bush, the laughter has probably stopped this morning after Gallup's latest survey. It shows that Congress has even lower ratings than the President, and the number has dropped consistently since the Democrats first took charge:
A new Gallup Poll finds continued low levels of public support for both Congress and President George W. Bush. Twenty-nine percent of Americans approve of Congress, down slightly from last month's reading (33%) and this year's high point of 37%, while Bush's approval rating is holding steady at 33%. Both the ratings of Congress and the president are slightly lower than their respective 2007 averages. Approval ratings of Congress are higher among Democrats than Republicans, while Bush's ratings are much higher among Republicans.
According to the May 10-13, 2007, Gallup Poll, 29% of Americans approve and 64% disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. Congressional approval is down 4 percentage points since last month, and is 3 points lower than the 32% average measured during the first five months of the year. The high point for the congressional approval rating so far this year was the 37% approval measured in February. Although ratings are quite low, Americans have been more positive in their assessments of Congress this year than last year, when an average of just 25% approved of Congress.
How bad is it? Even Democrats mostly disapprove of Congress. Only 37% of the majority party's voters think that Congress has performed well; Gallup doesn't mention the percentage that disapproves, but it seems almost certain that it outstrips 37%, unless more than 26% are clueless. Congress gets its worst ratings not from Republicans (25%), but from independents (24%). That should get the attention of leadership in both chambers, who owe their majorities to those independents.
The decline has not taken long, and is ironically steepest among Democrats. Approval ratings for Congress peaked at an embarrassing 37% in February, just after Congress convened. Democrats at that time gave it a meager 44% approval at that time. Since then, support has dropped 7 points among Democrats and nine points among independents.
Norm Coleman said yesterday that he believed the midterms to have a practical message rather than an ideological mandate. These numbers tend to underscore that analysis.
The Democrats had better start producing something other than sound bites if they want to hang onto their majorities in 2008. The electorate has already grown tired of posturing, and their patience has run out on partisan games. We're now at Day 100 for funding the troops, arguably the highest priority in national security, and we still don't have a supplemental bill that can reach a broad consensus. We have no movement on the Democrats' own agenda. It's possibly the worst do-nothing Congress in memory -- and the people have noticed.