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US Congress - More Popular than Ebola

This dead-horse has been savagely beaten by corporate and citizen journalists alike. However, it is worth kicking around again. Why? Because the United States government is probably the least popular government ever polled. It is historically significant so worth repeating.

Public Policy Polling (PPP)

In January of 2013, the PPP released poll results indicating that the US federal legislative branch was somewhat more popular than the deadly Ebola virus. About 53% polled indicated that they liked Ebola more than congress. The very same poll revealed a 9% overall approval rating.

The poll report can be found here: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_Natl_010813_.pdf

According to the PPP report, the US Congress did not fare so well against other undesirables. Politicians are sometimes likened to used-car salesmen but even they were found to be more likeable than Congress. Congress has also been referred to as blood-sucking parasites but even lice beat them in popularity, quite significantly. If you have ever thought of politicians in DC as a “pain in the ***,” you are not alone. Among those polled, even colonoscopies were found to be more popular.

Congress, to their merit, did poll more favorably against other undesirables. People still seem to prefer Congress to playground bullies, North Korea, meth labs, gonorrhea, and, as previously mentioned, the dreaded Ebola virus. Perhaps surprisingly, Congress was also found to be more likeable than communism, Lindsay Lohan, Fidel Castro, the Kardashians, and John Edwards.

Worth Consideration

Naturally, polls can be biased. One cannot assume that those polls certainly represent a fair cross-section of the American people. Not everyone in the country can be polled, after all. Polling questions can also be notoriously misleading in the way the questions are asked as well. In addition, one may question just how seriously this poll was likely to have been taken by the participants.

The Real Meat of the Issue

Perhaps the most significant finding of the PPP poll was the result of the question, “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Congress?” It was found that, of those polled, only 9% had a favorable opinion of Congress. 85% had an unfavorable opinion and only 6% were unsure.

When speculating that this particular poll might be biased or non-representative of the nation as a whole, it would be worth checking to see how Congress, and the government as a whole, did in other polls. According to Gallup, they started off the year 2014 with a 13% approval rating and over the past few years has rarely had a rating higher than 20%. This is significant when one considers that Gallup shows an historic average of 33%.

Gallup’s own polling concurred with a 9% approval rating in November of 2013. This represents an all-time low. Apparently, no US Congress any time in American history has ever been less popular. Gallup claims a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

It gets even more interesting when one considers that, during the supposed government shutdown, during which the government probably spent more money than usual, approval ratings were reported as low as 5%. It might be interesting to note that, although many blame congress, the executive branch had guards posted, who were paid, to prevent people from looking at stuff like the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Mount Rushmore, just to name a few. Many of the sites tourists were prevented from accessing are normally not guarded and have little or no upkeep costs associated with them.

Congress has not gained in popularity according to some more recent polls. According to Rasmussen Reports, at the time of this writing, Congress currently has an approval rating of 7%. An abysmally low rating to be sure, it is hard to imagine that even Ebola could be less popular. Consequently, only 8% polled believe that incumbents are reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. A significant 66% believe the rules are rigged to benefit incumbent reelection.

Do Americans Hate Republicans?

At least one news report attempted to spin the low approval ratings to mean that US Citizens were increasingly unhappy with Republicans specifically while increasingly quite supportive of the Democrat president. This sort of manipulation of facts should be unsurprising to the informed reader. If one harkens to the words of Mark Twain, “If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed..,” one will find any claim made by corporate-owned media to be dubious by default.

Recalling that the PPP poll showed a higher approval rating for Congress than John Edwards, a Democrat involved in a rather tame sex-scandal, president Obama’s approval rating is not particularly impressive either. As of March 2014, Gallup currently reports a presidential approval rating of 42.9%. Though this may sound quite impressive compared to congressional approval ratings, this reflects one of the worst presidential approval ratings in Gallup history. People have a tendency to rally around their chief executive, regardless of party affiliation, as an extension of their national patriotism particularly in times of war.

Currently, Barak Obama’s approval rating are worse than the overall approval rating of any president listed in Gallup’s historical statistics. Right now the President is polling lower than even George W. Bush, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and even Richard Nixon. To claim that the low approval rating of Congress is an indication that people are unhappy with just the Republicans seems like a huge stretch of the imagination in light of this fact.

With such unprecedented ratings, the lowest in recorded history, one has to wonder if there has ever been a less popular government. Was the senate under Nero or Caligula even less popular? Some polls indicate that, even in recent times, as much as 10% of Germans would like a new iron-fisted fuhrer despite how that sort of government worked out for them last time. Single digit approval ratings are an historic novelty to be sure.

Conclusions

It would seem that the American people are dismayed by the representatives of both major political parties. They may not be sure why, specifically, they are dismayed but they seem to be able to sense that the country is headed in a bad direction. Polling results would seem to indicate that elected officials are not well liked in general. With ever declining numbers, it might be interesting to see if, should another poll be conducted, Congress is still more popular than Ebola.

Politics


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