80 Percent of Americans Don’t Have Confidence in Republicans in Congress

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 26 2014 12:53 PM

80 Percent of Americans Don’t Have Confidence in Republicans in Congress

454788133-carroll-rodgers-a-stonemason-with-the-architect-of-the
Carroll Rodgers, a stonemason with the Architect of the Capitol, salts steps outside the U.S. Capitol building

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

It hardly comes as a surprise that Americans don’t have a great deal of confidence in the political leadership in Washington. But in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, one number stands out: 80 percent. That's the percentage of Americans who say they don’t have confidence in Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country. Democrats aren’t doing much better, mind you—a mere 72 percent lackconfidence in them. But, the lack of faith in Republicans is striking because it seems even their own followers don’t trust them. Only 36 percent of people who identified as Republican say they trust the party’s lawmakers to do what is right. “In contrast, a majority of Democrats have confidence in their congressional party,” notes the Post. As a general rule though, no one likes lawmakers as a whole. A mere 16 percent of Americans say they approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

President Obama’s approval ratings stand at 46 percent, a slight increase from the 42 percent he had in November. But with a 50-percent negative rating, it marks the first time more Americans rate Obama’s performance negatively than positively right before a State of the Union address. Interestingly, Obama’s approval ratings “are almost identical” to what George W. Bush enjoyed at a similar point in his presidency in 2006. In contrast, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had 60 percent approval at similar points of their second terms.

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The poll also shows that Republicans have a clear lead when people are asked who would better handle the economy—with a seven percentage point advantage, making it the broadest lead since 2002. The GOP also has a 10 percentage point advantage when it comes to handling the budget deficit. But Democrats win out on health care and being more concerned “with the needs of people like you” receiving a nine-percentage-point advantage in each of the categories.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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