A new poll shows just how deeply, eye-poppingly unpopular Congress has become. But are voters partly to blame for lawmakers' failures?
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
It may be a cheap shot. But we couldn't resist commenting on the latest Public Policy Polling survey measuring just how deeply, down-there-with-sewer-rats-and-root-canals unpopular Congress is these days with the American people.
To wit: When given the opportunity to choose which they held in higher regard, voters actually picked all of the following over Congress:
Used car salesmen
NFL replacement refs
As the PPP press release commented: "It's gross to have lice, but at least they can be removed in a way that, given the recent reelection rates, members of Congress evidently can't." For the record, lice were favored over Congress by 67 to 19 percent.
Sure, it's a funny poll. And in lawmakers' defense, they actually did score higher than the Kardashians, playground bullies, North Korea, and Gonorrhea. (Although in a way, those results simply validate the overall poll – showing that respondents actually gave their rankings some thought, rather than simply giving Congress the lowest possible rating to make a point.)
But we also find it a little disturbing that Congress is now so widely seen as a laughingstock or worse. Congressional approval ratings have been at historic lows for some time now, and Congress-bashing has become a national pastime. The sentiment stems from a number of trends –including a growing lack of trust in institutions in general. But above all, it's a clear reflection of the public's frustration with legislators' inability to come together and resolve the nation's most pressing fiscal problems.
It's worth noting that a significantly less funny version of the PPP poll also came out this week. On Monday, Gallup released a survey showing that 77 percent of Americans believe that the way politics works in Washington is causing "serious harm" to the nation. Let's repeat that: In the eyes of most Americans, Congress is not just inept, but is causing serious harm. And the sentiment was pretty bipartisan, including 87 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents, and 68 percent of Democrats.