Americans To Congress: I Can Do Better According To National Poll

News Story: September 7, 2008

A new national poll from the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute found fewer than one-quarter of Americans surveyed, 22.4%, held a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the job the United States Congress is doing.Another 70.5% held a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion.Some, 7.1%, were unsure.

Among those surveyed with an opinion, 56.3% said they, themselves, could do a better job than elected Congressmen and women. This majority of Americans strongly (29.4%) or somewhat agreed (26.9%) with the statement:“Honestly, I would likely do a better job than most we elect to Congress.” Others, 43.7% somewhat (15.5%) or strongly disagreed (28.2%).

“In their frustration, 82.0% of those surveyed with an opinion agreed that term limits are needed to remove career politicians,” said Jerry C. Lindsley, Director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute.

“Delegates to the recent party conventions returned home to Americans angry over their ‘do-nothing’ Congress. More and more Americans wonder why Congress even bothers to meet,” he added.

Survey respondents estimated that just under one-third, 32.95%, of those currently serving in the U.S. Congress could be considered “Statesmen” as opposed to politicians.

“Strong majorities blame the cost of running for the U.S. Congress on the quality,” said Lindsley.He added, “89.7% of respondents with a view agreed that the cost to run for Congress prevents good people from being elected.”

Of the top reasons for low job approval ratings for Congress, respondents included:the lack of party votes to pass legislation (9.3%), poor leaders in Congress (8.5%), the War (8.4%), don’t work together (8.1%), they don’t care (6.4%), they are self serving (4.1%), the poor economy (3.6%), they don’t work hard enough (3.3%).

“The intense polarization between the political parties in Congress is the root reason why so many Americans have lost faith in the ability of Congress to solve national problems. The partisan divide within Congress has become so intense in recent years that little of substance can be accomplished. Unless the polarization between Democrats and Republicans subsides, it is unlikely that the Congress will legislate effectively and regain the trust of the American people,” stated Gary Rose, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Sacred Heart University Department of Government and Politics.

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How the Poll Was Conducted
The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 800 interviews with residents nationwide between July 28 - August 7, 2008. The sample was generated proportional to population contribution in all 50 states. Statistically, a sample of 800 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-3.5% at a 95% confidence level.