Gallup released the results Tuesday of its latest survey on American's approval of the job their Congress is doing, and while the results are up from a historic low of nine points in November, the overall job approval rating at 13 percent is ugly, as it represents a 35 percent dip from the low 20-percent rating it's averaged in the last three years.
Americans by a margin of 85 percent look unfavorably on the job their collective representatives are doing in Washington, and 53 percent give low job approval marks to the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, long-time Ohio Congressman John A. Boehner, who since his ascent to speaker in 2010 has barely been able to control the unruly Tea Party wing of his majority conference.
These statistics show that advancing high clouds of voter unrest are warning signs that a storm could be on its way for the midterm elections in November. Whose ship sinks and whose boat floats is uncertain. Numbers like these, however, portend changes that likely won't auger well for Republicans, who witnessed big demographic changes toward their political brand in 2012, which has portrayed them as hostile toward women, minorities including African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and immigrants in general, exacerbated by stingy food stamp policies and a cold shoulder to relief for jobless workers.
The real phenomena of rampant inequality promises to be an issue in this year's elections, as Democrats use it against Republicans, who have mostly discounted it in much the same way they deny climate change is on the march.
As Jeffrey M. Jones of Gallup notes, "The unpopularity of Congress has been a factor in major swings in the number of seats held by each party in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections, and could be again this year." Since Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, installing Congressman Boehner as speaker, the number and severity of run-ins have exploded.
When President Obama won in 2008, Democrats controlled the House 255 to 179. By 2010, Tea Party unrest at the passage of the Affordable Care Act boosted Republicans in a low voter turnout year to reverse that number to 242 to 193. In 2012, when the president won a second term by more than five million votes nationwide, Republicans remained in control but the Democrats actually netted eight seats overall. Republicans currently hold 233 seats in the House of Representatives to 200 for Democrats. Two seats, one in Florida and one in North Carolina, are vacant.
Democrats this year need to win 17 net seats to reclaim the House.
Speaker Boehner, unable to control a numerically small but fearless and vocal band of Tea Party brothers last October, looked on at the federal government shutdown for 16 days at a cost of about $24 billion dollars, about the equivalent amount of money needed to fund emergency unemployment insurance, which Republicans allowed to lapse on December 28 for 1.3 jobless Americans, for another year
Based on a Jan. 5-8 Gallup poll, the results show congressional approval has leveled off in January from November's record-low rating. Thirteen percent is also close to what Gallup measured in January 2013 (14%) and January 2012 (13%).
But with elections still ten months off, Congress has time to improve its image before the campaigns get underway in earnest this fall. It's often difficult for Congress to agree on legislation with elections ahead and candidates jockeying for best position, especially because the elections could decide party control of the Senate if not also the House. Elections for all seats in the House and 33 seats in the Senate occur this fall.
Boehner Rated Negatively for Handling Job of Speaker
In addition to rating Congress overall, Gallup also asked Americans to assess the job Ohio Congressman John Boehner is doing as speaker of the House. Boehner is the highest-ranking Republican in the federal government and has been the party's point person in dealings with Obama and Senate Democrats.
Nearly twice as many Americans disapprove (53%) as approve (28%) of the job Boehner is doing, while 19 percent have no opinion.
Boehner gets a more positive review than Congress as an institution, partly because of his clear Republican affiliation. Forty-nine percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, while 34 percent disapprove. For Democrats, it's 17 percent approving with 68 percent disapproving. No surprise here.
Boehner's association with an unpopular Congress may also be dragging his overall approval rating down, Gallup noted. For President Obama, whose job approval ratings are down below the historic norm for presidents, at 41 percent, he's way ahead of Speaker Boehner.
Even Republicans, who are expected to approve of their party's officeholders and candidates, don't give him many glowing endorsements. His role in working with Obama and Senate Democrats to end the government shutdown in October, and to put in place the framework for a two-year budget agreement to avoid future shutdowns, have helped end major political squabbles, but these episodes of challenge have also shown his leadership weaknesses.
It's ironic but true that those actions didn't exactly endear him to strong conservative Republicans who want leaders "to stick to their principles rather than compromise to reach agreement" as was demonstrated last year by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who at the time of the shutdown was being touted as the real power behind Tea Party House Members who were not lining up behind Speaker Boehner.
Since 2008, Democrats have lost a large number of so-called Blue Dogs, the Congressman who abandoned President on issues including big policy bills like the Affordable Care Act, the Stimulus Package and Dodd-Frank, among others. Republicans likewise filtered out their moderates, replacing them with Tea Party conservatives, who see government as an enemy to attack rather than an ally to work with.
This bodes well for stronger progressive Democrats, who will be more united and less divisive, as was the case when a large number of Blue Dogs that Republicans could court to their side still roamed the halls of Congress.
The biggest obstacle to Democratic hopes in the fall is that districts are still severely gerrymandered to favor GOP candidates, a haunting reminder of the power the GOP wielded when they won state level apportionment control in 2010 that will last until 2019, when the party in control again gets to draw district maps for another decade.
The news article Gallup: 13% approve Congress, high Boehner unfavorables auspicious for Dems appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.
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