Congress` Approval Rating at Lowest Point for Year

Wed Sep 2, 2009 5:00am EDT

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Hillary Clinton only Administration official with positive ratings
ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(Business Wire)--
As the fall season begins, the focus moves away from town hall meetings and what
is going on around the country back to how people in Washington are dealing with
issues, especially health care reform. Unfortunately, many in Washington are not
dealing from strong positions, including the president himself, in terms of
approval ratings. In fact, when it comes to many of the leaders of Congress as
well as those handling economic issues, majorities of Americans are not even
familiar enough with these people to have an opinion regarding them. 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,498 U.S. adults surveyed
online between August 10 and 18, 2009 by Harris Interactive®. 

Administration Leaders` Ratings

The rating of individual leaders in government varies greatly:

* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the only member of the administration to
have a positive job rating. Just over half of Americans (51%) give her positive
marks, while 31% give her negative ratings and 18% are not familiar enough with
her to have an opinion; 
* Vice President Joe Biden is rated more negatively (38%) than positively (33%)
while 29% are not familiar enough to have an opinion; 
* Just over one-quarter of Americans (28%) give Defense Secretary Robert Gates
positive ratings while 17% give him negative ones, but a majority (55%) are not
familiar with him; 
* One in five Americans (20%) rate Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
positively, one-quarter (24%) rate his job performance negatively and 56% are
not familiar enough with him to have an opinion; and, 
* Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is rated positively by 17% of Americans,
negatively by 26% and 57% are not familiar with him.

Congressional Ratings

Looking at Congress as a whole, their numbers continue to move downward. In May,
they were at a high with 31% giving Congress positive ratings, but in June this
dropped to 25% positive and currently just 22% give them positive ratings while
almost four in five Americans (78%) give them negative ones. The rating of
individual parties and leaders in Congress are not any better:

* One in five Americans (21%) give Democrats in Congress positive ratings while
47% give them negative ones and one-third (32%) say they are not familiar enough
to have an opinion; 
* Even lower numbers (12%) give Republicans in Congress positive ratings and
over half (52%) give them negative ones while 37% are not familiar with them; 
* Looking at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 19% of Americans give her job positive
marks but almost half (48%) give her negative ones and one-third (33%) are not
familiar with her; 
* However, her familiarity is better than any of the other leaders in Congress.
Staying in the House, three-quarter of Americans (73%) are not familiar with
House Minority Leader John Boehner, with 8% giving him positive ratings and 19%
negative marks; and 
* Three in five Americans (61%) are not familiar with Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, while 10% give him positive marks and 29% give him negative ones. On
the other side of the aisle, 72% of Americans are not familiar enough with
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to have an opinion, 8% give him positive
marks and 20% give him negative ratings.

So What?

In order for President Obama to accomplish many of his goals, he will need
Congress to help him. However, they do not have the political capital to go to
the American public and ask for support for many of these plans. And, among his
Cabinet officials, only Secretary of State Clinton is seen in a positive light,
so that will also not be of any help in selling health care reform to an already
wary public.

 The Harris Poll® #98                        
 By Regina Corso, Director, The Harris Poll  


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States August 10 and 18,
2009, among 2,498 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex,
race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where
necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the
population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents`
propensity to be online. Full data tables and methodology are available at 

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council
on Public Polls.

About Harris Interactive

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rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we
assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients
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