Public approval of federal government at all-time low

A new Gallup poll published Friday found that the more knowledge Americans have of the U.S. legislative branch, the lower opinion they have about the job it is doing in Washington. 66 percent of the most knowledgeable respondents to the survey conducted in June said Congress is performing “poor/bad”.

In order to determine an individual’s know-how, pollsters asked five questions about how the institution works and its general make-up. Seventeen percent of respondents were found to be “highly informed”, and 33 percent somewhat informed.

Higher negative ratings of Congress’ job performance were found at “each level of political knowledge”, according to Gallup’s press release. Among respondents who answered none of the questions correctly, 29 percent said the federal legislature was doing a “poor/bad” job; 46 percent of those with one correct; 56 percent with two or three; and 66 percent with four or five.

Of 1,017 surveyed from across all 50 states, half answered one or none of the five questions correctly.

The poll also found that those respondents 30 years old and over were more informed and held more negative opinions about Congress than those under 30.

The bad news continued Monday as Gallup’s annual Governance poll, conducted Sept. 3–13, was published to report that 79 percent believe that most members of Congress are “out of touch with average Americans”; 69 percent think congressmen are “‘focused on the needs of special interests” rather than the needs of their constituents; 52 percent polled say most members of Congress are “corrupt”.

In addition, a record 48 percent say their own federal representative is “out of touch”, and a record 32 percent say he or she is “corrupt”.

The annual survey also asked respondents about their level of “trust in the federal government” to solve both “domestic” and “international problems”. On these question too, the government receives near-record low marks from the public: 38 percent approval on the domestic side (a new record low) and 45 percent on foreign challenges (up from a record low 43 percent in 2014).

In contrast, from 1972 to 2004, an average of 69 percent trusted the government on foreign policy, and 62 percent similarly on domestic issues.

Unlike poll ratings for Congress, Gallup found that there is a partisan divide among Americans in their trust of the federal government in general: 68 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Independents, and 25 percent of Republicans trust the government internationally, while 56 percent of Democrats, 35 percent of Independents, and 25 percent of Republicans trust it domestically.


Below is a chart of the latest monthly Congressional Approval Ratings, currently at a 2015 low of 14 percent:



(courtesy Gallup)


President Obama seems to enjoy better favorability ratings than Congress, but his approval numbers are slipping as well:



[Gallup] [RealClear Politics]