New Poll: Obama and Congress Face Falling Ratings

Just when you thought the American public’s dissatisfaction with Washington couldn’t get any worse, it continues its downward slide with a whopping 83 percent expressing disapproval of the job Congress is doing.

The approval rating for President Obama, meanwhile, has dropped three points since last month’s poll to 45 percent—though the 3-point drop is within the sampling error of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The 83-percent disapproval rating for Congress is an all-time high with the survey. What’s more, nearly 60 percent of poll respondents say they would vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress if they had such an option.

“There is a palpable unhappiness with Washington,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “Outside the Beltway, voters are saying, ‘You don’t get it.'”

In explaining their dismay with Washington, respondents cite (in order) partisanship and the inability of Congress to get things done, middle-class Americans being ignored, and the Obama administration’s policies and leadership.

As with everything else, there is a steep partisan divide: Democrats and Independents blame partisanship and congressional gridlock, while Republicans blame the president.

However, the president overall doesn’t get as much blame as Congress: just 22 percent say they believe the GOP is interested in unifying the country in a bipartisan way, while 45 percent say the same of Obama.

Curiously, while 56 percent of Americans say congressional Republicans are too rigid in their dealings with the president, a majority of Republican respondents say congressional Republicans are too quick to give in to Obama.

“In their mind, Republicans have been too quick to give in to Obama,” McInturff, the GOP pollster, told NBC News. “For the average Republican House member, he or she is more likely to be concerned about a primary than general election.”

As for immigration reform, 44 percent of adults (49 percent of Latinos) say they would blame Republicans if Congress doesn’t pass legislation by the end of its current term, while 21 percent of respondents (21 percent of Latinos) would blame the president. Another 14 percent said they would blame congressional Democrats.

In addition, 59 percent of all adults (and 79 percent of Latinos) say they believe the notion that border security must precede immigration reform—a view espoused by many congressional Republicans—is just an excuse to block reform. Only 36 percent say it’s a legitimate excuse.

As for Obama’s approval rating, the drop is mainly due to a dip in support among African-American respondents ­– 78 percent approve of his job now, compared to 88 percent in June and 93 percent in April. The pollsters speculate that George Zimmerman‘s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin could explain this drop.


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