August 9, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned from office. At the time of the resignation in the midst of the Watergate scandal, 47% of Americans said they approved of how Congress was doing their job and 34% disapproved. At the time, Democrats held control of both houses of Congress.
In January 1976, Gerald Ford was President and Democrats had more control of Congress than they did 4 years earlier. Congressional approval dropped to 24% with 58% disapproving of the job Congress was doing.
After the approval of the job Congress was doing jumped up to 40% in May 1977, it plunged down to only 19% in June 1979. Jimmy Carter was president and Democrats still controlled Congress and the American people were not happy.
In 1986, 1987, 1988, under the presidency of Ronald Reagan and Republican controlled Congress, the job approval rating of Congress hit 42%, but the disapproval rate varied from 37% to 49% to 42%.
By 1990, George H. W. Bush was in the White House, but Democrats had regained control of houses of Congress. The job approval rating for Congress dipped down to 23% and the disapproval rate jumped to 64%.
In 1992, with Bush still in office and Democrats still in control of Congress, the job approval rate for Congress dropped down to only 18% and the disapproval rate jumped to 78%
In 1998, Bill Clinton was in the White House, but Republicans had control of both houses of Congress. The congressional job approval rating climbed to 57% and the disapproval rating dropped to only 33%.
In 2001, George W. Bush was President. The Senate was equally divided 50-50 and Republicans held a slight lead in the House. The congressional approval ratings soared to 84% with only a 10% disapproval rating.
However, by May 2006, with Bush still in office and Republicans in control of both house of Congress, the congressional job approval rating plummeted to 21% and disapproval rating climbed to 71%.
In January 2009, just a couple weeks before the transition of power from Bush to Obama, Democrats controlled the House and the Senate was split 49-49 and the congressional job approval rating dropped to 19% and the disapproval rating was up to 76%.
In March 2010, Democrats were in control of the White House and both houses of Congress and the congressional approval rating for Congress dropped to a mere 16% and the disapproval rating jumped to 80%.
By December 2010 with Democrats still in full control of Washington DC, congressional job approval rating dropped even further to a low of 13% and the disapproval rating climbed to 83%.
In February 2012, Obama was still in the White House, Republicans had just gained control of the House, but Democrats still controlled the Senate. Obama and Senate Democrats made it clear that they would not work with House Republicans, resulting in the congressional job approval of dropping to 10% and the disapproval rating climbing to 86%.
In November 2013, Obama and Senate Democrats still refused to work with House Republicans and the public’s job approval rating dipped into single digits (9%) for the first time since ratings were kept.
Through the rest of Obama’s time if office and the stalemate in Washington between Obama and House Republicans, the congressional job approval rating never went above 20% while the disapproval rating never dropped below 70%.
The approval and disapproval rating figures used above are taken from Gallup and can be seen here. If you noticed, the trend indicates that most of the higher job approval ratings were in times when Republicans had control of Congress and the lower ratings were when Democrats had control or refused to work with Republicans as seen over the past 4 years.
A recent Rasmussen Reports poll supports that same trend:
“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51% of Likely Republican Voters still believe Republicans in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters throughout the nation over the past several years. But the latest finding is a new low and is down from 76% a year ago which was the highest level of unhappiness among Republicans in surveys since 2008. Forty percent (40%) of Republicans now think their representatives have done a good job representing the party’s values, up from 20% last March.”
“By comparison, 55% of Likely Democratic Voters feel their representatives in Congress have done a good job representing what the party stands for in recent years. Thirty-six percent (36%) think they’re out of touch with the party base nationwide. That compares, however, to 64% and 30% respectively last year at this time. In January 2015, a low of 46% of Democrats thought their congressional representatives were doing a good job.”
Now that there is a Republican in the White House and they control both houses of Congress, hopefully they will be able to accomplish more and their job approval ratings will reflect it. However, many Democrats are vowing to not work with Trump or Republicans on just principle alone and if that selfish pouting attitude continues, then less will get accomplished and approval ratings will remain low.