Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dem Congressional Approval Ratings DOWN: Failure to Address Iraq Cited

According to a new Gallup poll, public approval of the Democratic congress is down again after a brief honeymoon of a few months, with only a 28% approval rating against a 64% disapproval rating:

The modest uptick in approval of the job being done by Congress has dissipated for the most part after only two months. Congress job approval had risen over the last two months after the Democrats took over control of Congress in early January -- fueled in large part by a jump in approval among rank and file Democrats. This month, however, Congress job approval is back down to levels quite similar to where it was in 2006. Democrats have lost a good deal of the positivity exhibited in the first two months of the year after their party took over.

According to Gallup's monthly update on job approval of Congress -- in a March 11-14, 2007, national poll -- 28% of Americans approve of the job being done by Congress and 64% disapprove. This marks a substantial change from January and February, with approval down nine points and disapproval up nine points.

It would appear that after a few brief months of optimism about the new government, the American people have reverted to old pessimistic form, wallowing in cynicism about Congress. But what's worse, the approval ratings from Democrats went down substantially more than did those of Independents, while Republican approval ratings of Congress decreased only slightly this month versus the last few months:

This month, however, Congress job approval among Democrats has fallen back, and to a lesser degree among independents. Republicans -- already much less positive in January and February after their party lost control of Congress -- became only slightly more negative this month.

This means, of course, that Republicans have been happier with Congress of late than have Democrats. That's not a good sign.

While Gallup did not ask respondents for the reasons behind their answers, they did make an educated guess:

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what is behind the drop off in optimism about Congress among Democrats. One possibility is that Democrats are disappointed that their party has been unable to do anything substantive about the Iraq war -- the dominant issue in last November's midterm elections. The increase in the price of gas and/or other economic concerns may also be a factor. Overall satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States and ratings of economic optimism are both down in the March Gallup Poll.

Honestly, I think the Gallup folks are right. Democratic and Independent voters put the Dems in Congress to do something--anything--about the Occupation of Iraq. Republicans--who by and large are okay with what Bush has done in Iraq, their only frustration lying with the lack of speedy "victory"--are fine with Congress of late because they haven't done much about the war.

What this means is that while the investigations and confrontations with the White House are quite pleasing to many of us activists, the bottom line for most Democrats was, is, and will remain serious action to end the Occupation of Iraq; anything less, and voters will express their displeasure in November of 2008.

Therefore, as we encourage Dems to do their investigatory duties, let us not allow the ending of the Occupation to take any less prominence in our minds: time is running out, and the voters are watching closely.

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