Something tells us not even an ARIMA X-12, 13 or even 14 seasonal adjustments will do much to change the opinion of America's population that Congress is now more useless, incompetent and corrupt than ever. From Gallup: "Ten percent of Americans in August approve of the job Congress is doing, tying last February's reading as the lowest in Gallup's 38-year history of this measure. Eighty-three percent disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job." So what happens when the approval rating hits 0%? Does America automatically revert back to Monarchy (for all you Sid Meier fans out there), and what then? Back to Slavery? And in the New Centrally Planned normal is Darwin really right?
Gallup continues: Congress approval was 30% in Gallup's first measure using this question wording in April 1974, and has averaged 34% across the more than 230 times it has been measured since. Congress approval has been below 40% since early 2005, and below 20% every month since June 2011 -- dropping to 10% in February of this year and again now.
Before 2007, Congress approval had been below 20% only twice -- in 1979 and 1992. The highest congressional job approval in Gallup's history was 84% in October 2001, a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Congressional approval is down among all political groups and is now virtually the same across these groups -- with Democrats at 9%, independents at 11%, and Republicans at 10%. Democrats' approval declined the most, from 18% in July.
Although Americans have generally been more negative than positive in their assessments of Congress over the past four decades, opinions have been especially negative in recent years -- and approval has again in August fallen to the record-low reading of 10%, last measured in February. Americans' views of Congress are so bad that it has now been more than a year since Gallup's monthly assessment was as high as 20%.
It is difficult to pinpoint precise causes for these extraordinarily negative views, although the continuing poor economy is certainly a major factor. The fact that control of Congress is now divided, with a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, may provide an opportunity for Americans of all political persuasions to dislike some aspect of Congress. With Congress divided, however, it is difficult to assess what impact its low ratings will have on the November elections, now less than three months away.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's choice for his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, is himself a sitting member of the House, but it is not clear whether voters' disdain for Congress will in any way rub off on their assessments of Ryan. Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were members of the Senate, leaving Romney as the only one of the four presidential candidates who has not served as an elected representative in Washington.