CONGRESS

Poll: Independents Are Angry, Despairing

The House Chamber fills in anticipation of South Korean President Lee Myung-baks address to a joint meeting of Congress in the US Capitol, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  
National Journal
Steven Shepard
Dec. 13, 2011, 4:30 p.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×