Thumbs down on Congress

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleThe poll also found that President George W. Bush had not improved his own or his party’s standing through his intense campaign of speeches and events surrounding the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The speeches were at the heart of a Republican strategy to thrust national security to the forefront in the fall elections. Bush’s job approval rating was 37 percent in the poll, virtually unchanged from the previous Times/CBS News poll, in August. On the issue that has been a bulwark for Bush, 54 percent said they approved of the way he was managing the effort to combat terrorists, again unchanged from last month, though up from this spring. Republicans continued to hold a slight edge over Democrats on which party was better at dealing with terrorism, though that edge did not grow since last month despite Bush’s flurry of speeches on national security, including one from the Oval Office on the night of Sept. 11. But the Times/CBS News poll found a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who said they approved of the way Bush had handled the war in Iraq, to 36 percent from 30 percent. The results also suggest that after bottoming out this spring, Bush’s approval ratings on the economy and foreign policy have returned to their levels of about a year ago, both at 37 percent. The number of people who called terrorism the most important issue facing the country doubled from 7 percent in July to 14 percent in the new poll; 22 percent named the war in Iraq as their top concern, little changed from July. Across the board, the poll found marked disenchantment with Congress, highlighting the opportunity Democrats see to make the argument for a change in leadership and to make the election a national referendum on the performance of a Republican-controlled Congress and Bush’s tenure. In one striking finding, 77 percent of respondents – including 65 percent of Republicans – said most members of Congress had not done a good enough job to deserve re-election and that it was time to give new people a chance. That is the highest number of voters saying it is “time for new people” since the fall of 1994. “You get some people in there, and they’re in there forever,” Jan Weaver, an Aberdeen, S.D., resident who described herself as a Republican voter, said in a follow-up interview. “They’re so out of touch with reality.” In the poll, 50 percent said they would support a Democrat in the fall congressional elections, compared with 35 percent who said they would support a Republican. But the poll found that Democrats continue to struggle to offer a strong case for turning government control over to them; only 38 percent said the Democrats had a clear plan for how they would run the country, compared with 45 percent who said the Republicans had offered a clear plan. Thus, while 61 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job, just 29 percent said they disapproved of the way their own “representative is handling his or her job.” For all the clear dissatisfaction with the 109th Congress, 39 percent of respondents said their own representative deserved re-election, compared with 48 percent who said it was time for someone new. What is more, it seems highly unlikely Democrats will experience a sweep similar to the one Republicans experienced in 1994. Most analysts judge only about 40 House seats to be in play at the moment, compared with more than 100 seats in play at this point 12 years ago. BY THE NUMBERS 77 percent say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election 50 percent would support a Democrat in the fall election 35 percent would support a Republican in the fall election160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! With fewer than seven weeks until the midterm elections, Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with substantial majorities saying they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve re-election, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The disdain for Congress is as intense as it has been since 1994, when Republicans captured 52 seats to end 40 years of Democratic control of the House and retook the Senate as well. It underlines the challenge the Republican Party faces in trying to hold on to power in the face of a surge in anti-incumbent sentiment. By broad margins, respondents said members of Congress were too tied to special interests and that they did not understand the needs and problems of average Americans. Two-thirds said Congress had accomplished less than it typically does in a two-year session; most said they could not name a single major piece of legislation that cleared this Congress. Just 25 percent said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job. Overall discontent with Congress or Washington does not necessarily signify how people will vote when they see the familiar name of their member of Congress on the ballot, however. Democrats face substantial institutional obstacles in trying to repeat what Republicans accomplished in 1994, including a Republican financial advantage and the fact that far fewer seats are in play. last_img

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