Poll says voters dislike Congress but have praise for individual lawmakers

October 31, 1990|By Gallup Organization

PRINCETON, N.J. -- While there appears to be deep dissatisfaction among Americans with the way things are going in this country and a fairly widely held feeling that Congress is inept, the latest Gallup Poll does not indicate that there will be a massive vote against incumbents in next week's midterm election.

In fact, a majority of Americans polled approved of the job being done by their own congressional representative and said they planned to vote for his or her re-election.

In short, the mood of America one week before Tuesday's election seemed to be muddled.

Dissatisfaction with the nation's progress in general reached its highest point since the early 1980s, and approval of the job being done by Congress was at the lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1974.

Forty-six percent of those who disapproved of Congress' performance said things like: "They're not getting anything done in Washington," "They can't agree on anything," "Too worried about staying in office," "Too concerned about themselves" and "They voted themselves a pay increase." Only 22 percent mentioned budget problems directly.

Still, Americans were not nearly as disapproving of their own particular representative in Congress. Only 24 percent approved of the job being done by Congress in general, but 61 percent approved of the way the "representative from your own congressional district is handling his or her job."

Most of those polled, 62 percent, said they would vote to re-elect their representatives, while only 22 percent said they would not.

There was some indication that Democrats had gained standing in recent weeks. Democrats were now just as likely as Republicans to be perceived by those polled as the party that can keep the country prosperous.

Democrats also seemed to have gained from the budget deliberation process.

The poll indicated that the whole budget process made Americans slightly less likely to vote for a Republican from their district, while it made them slightly more likely to vote for a Democrat: 55 percent said they would vote for the Democrat from their district, and 45 percent said they would vote for the Republican.

President Bush's popularity also has declined, according to the poll, but remains high when compared with other presidents.

The midterm performance of the party in the White House usually is affected by the incumbent's job approval rating.

President Bush's job approval is now 54 percent, relatively high for a president at this stage in his term but down dramatically from the ratings of nearly 80 percent that he enjoyed shortly after the U.S. entry into the Persian Gulf in August.

The poll results were based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, 18 and older, conducted from Oct. 25 to Oct. 28. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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