It's been something of a truism and a joke in recent years that Americans hate congress but love their individual congresspersons. Now, even that sentiment could be changing as congressional approval in the U.S. has hit rock-bottom.
Gallup today released the results of a survey last week showing that only 9% of Americans approve of the way the U.S. congress is doing its job. This is the lowest level congressional approval has been at since Gallup began tracking the statistic in the early 70s. The sentiment is shared across party lines, with Democrats' congressional approval at 10%, Republicans' approval at 9%, and independents' approval even lower at 8%. Congress is now well on its way to hitting 14% for the year, which would be the lowest yearly congressional approval rating in Gallup's history as well.
There is no one cause for the historically low approval rating, though there are several factors that likely contribute to it. Gallup points out in its blog post that congressional approval ratings have bee particularly low since the current recession began in 2008.
The government shutdown caused by House Republicans during the first half of October was particularly jarring for Americans. During those two weeks both parties in congress could be seen finger-pointing, with Republicans going so far as to point fingers within their own party.
The dysfunction seen during the shutdown now seems to have colored Americans' disapproval of congress. Gallup points out that the disapproval earned during the shutdown even appears to be hanging around. The new lowest-ever approval rating has come at a time when the U.S. political media has moved on from the shutdown and begun focusing on the executive branch's botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act website.