Americans are as disgusted with their government — and with Congress, in particular — as they have ever been, and the overwhelming disillusionment of independents portends great electoral uncertainty next November, according to an analysis of the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.
Overall, the poll shows that those voters aligned with neither party lack confidence in the federal government and are more eager to change the people who make up that government. Independents are also significantly less confident in the government than they were last summer, before the bitter, scorched-earth fight over raising the federal debt ceiling and the failure of the super committee to produce a plan to reduce the budget deficit.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents have “a lot” or “some confidence” that the federal government will make progress over the next year on the most important problems facing the country. But among independents, just 18 percent express that level of confidence. A whopping 80 percent of independents say they have “not much confidence” or “no confidence at all” in the federal government to make progress next year.
The poll shows a sharp decline in independents’ optimism just since late July, as both political parties ramped up negotiations over the federal government’s debt limit. The debt-ceiling fight and the super committee’s failure have taken a significant toll on how Americans (and independents in particular) view the federal government. In the previous poll, 42 percent of voters and 36 percent of independents said they had “a lot” or “some” confidence in the government. Sixty-three percent of independents said they had “not much” or “no confidence at all.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Democrats retain the most confidence in government, with 48 percent expressing some level of confidence, slightly lower than the 54 percent who expressed some confidence in July. Only 23 percent of Republicans express some confidence, down from 33 percent.
The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which surveyed 1,008 adults by landline and cell phone from Dec. 8-11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups.
The poll is the latest in a series of national surveys that will track the public’s priorities for Congress — and its assessment of Washington’s performance — during most weeks that Congress is in session through what is likely to be a tumultuous 2012.
Only a quarter of independents — compared with 38 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Republicans — think their congressional representative has performed his or her job well enough to deserve reelection. Fifty-six percent of independents say that it is time to give a new person a chance, compared with 49 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans.
On this measure, independents’ views are virtually unchanged from late July, when 24 percent said they thought their member of Congress deserved to be reelected and 60 percent preferred a new person.
And only 7 percent of independents said most other members of Congress deserve to be reelected; 10 percent of all Americans believe they do. This finding is statistically unchanged from July.
Independents’ capriciousness has led to three consecutive turbulent congressional-election cycles. In 2006, independents voted overwhelmingly for House Democrats, allowing the party to reclaim both houses of Congress. Exit polls showed that 57 percent of independents voted for the Democratic candidate for the House, while just 39 percent supported the Republican candidate.
In 2008, 51 percent of independents voted for the Democratic House candidate, compared with 43 percent who voted for the Republican, according to exit polls. President Obama won a similar percentage, 52 percent, of independents, while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won 44 percent.
But in 2010, independents’ discontent led to the Republican landslide that gave the GOP control of the House. Fifty-seven percent of independents voted for the Republican congressional candidate, compared with just 37 percent for the Democratic candidate.
Asked whether they prefer one-party control of both chambers, or that the two parties should have split control of Congress, an overwhelming 65 percent majority of independents supported split control “so the two chambers can act as a check on each other,” according to the new Congressional Connection Poll.
Yet, with a presidential race at the top of the ticket and confidence in government near an all-time low, the great discontent with both parties means that the outcome in 2012 remains ambiguous.
- 1 Bill Clinton Tries to Humanize His Wife With a Political Love Story
- 2 Will Trouble in Philly Follow Wasserman Schultz Home?
- 3 Democrats Have A Health Care Platform, But Not Much Appetite To Fight For It
- 4 Grayson’s Ex-Wife Accused Him of Domestic Abuse
- 5 On Deck for Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention
What We're Following See More »
"American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have 'high confidence' that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence. But intelligence agencies have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee's computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage—of the kind the United States also conducts around the world—or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election." WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange "has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency."
Colony Capital Founder Tom Barrack spoke on Donald Trump's behalf at the Democratic National Convention last week. But as the Washington Post learned, his company pulled out of Trump's Old Post Office project. The two companies issued a joint statement when the project was announced. But as a Colony spokeswoman told the Post, “Colony exited the joint venture after the project’s timeline became too long for the firm. As the project evolved, cheaper sources of capital for longer term investment became available to Trump." The Trump Organization is now financing the project through their own cash and a loan from Deutsche Bank. It's scheduled to open Sept. 12.
Thirty-five years after he tried to kill President Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. has been freed. "A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has granted a request for Hinckley to leave the mental hospital where he's lived for decades, to go live full-time with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, VA. The release could happen as early as next week, the judge ruled. Under the terms of his order, Hinckley is not allowed to contact his victims, their relatives or actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. Hinckley also will not be permitted to 'knowingly travel' to areas where the current president or members or Congress are present. The judge said Hinckley could be allowed to live on his own or in a group home after one year.
“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” started Bill Clinton. In his speech Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton brought a personal touch, telling parallel stories of his relationship with Hillary Clinton and the work she has done throughout her career. He lauded the Democratic nominee for her career of work, touching on her earliest days of advocacy for children and those with disabilities while in law school, her role as Secretary of State, and her work in raising their daughter, Chelsea. Providing a number of anecdotes throughout the speech, Clinton built to a crescendo, imploring the audience to support his wife for president. "You should elect her, she'll never quit when the going gets tough," he said. "Your children and grandchildren will be grateful."
A coalition of mothers whose children lost their lives in high profile cases across the country, known as the Mothers Of The Movement, were greeted with deafening chants of "Black Lives Matter" before telling their stories. The mothers of Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin spoke for the group, soliciting both tears and applause from the crowd. "Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother," said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. "And that's why, in the memory of our children, we are imploring you — all of you — to vote this election day."