News / USA

    Polls Show Growing Frustration With Washington

    FILE - U.S. Capitol
    FILE - U.S. Capitol
    Politicians in Washington are no strangers to negative public opinion polls.  But a recent spate of dismal surveys suggests the political polarization and dysfunction in Washington is reaching new depths.  

    The numbers are mind-numbingly bad. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, Congress has a disapproval rate of 83 percent, an all-time high for that survey.

    President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 45 percent, which matches that of George W. Bush at a similar point in his presidency.

    Only 29 percent see the country on the right track at the moment, down from the 41 percent who held that view in the same poll at the end of last year.

    Several other recent national surveys contain similar negative results, and experts say all of this has consequences for the president and members of Congress from both major political parties.

    Charlie Cook, a political analyst with the National Journal, says the president’s weakening poll numbers could hurt Democrats in next year’s congressional mid-term elections.

    “Obviously you watch the president’s approval rating because mid-term elections do typically become to a certain extent a referendum on the incumbent president and he has been dropping since mid-January about a point every three or four weeks," he said.

    Despite signs the economy is growing, many Americans still have a negative overall view, especially when it comes to jobs and their future standard of living.

    Obama has embarked on a speaking tour to refocus on economic issues and has not been shy about laying much of the blame for the political gridlock in Washington on Republicans.

    “Wasting the country’s time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare is not a jobs plan," the president said.

    But Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, are doing plenty of finger-pointing of their own.

    “We are not just over here making noise.  The House Republicans are continuing to take action," said Boehner.

    Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center says the president has a tough job in trying to change public perceptions about where the country is headed.

    “I think he realizes that the American people are getting a little bit frightened and a little bit, I think, dismayed," he said. "By about a two to one margin, Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction and has gotten off track."

    Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown says Obama has been losing steam in his recent polls as well.  But Brown says Obama has shown an ability to mount a political comeback.

    “His numbers are not good but it is worth mentioning that he has been here before.  Much of 2009, 2010 and 2011 his job approval was in the mid 40s and he still wound up being re-elected fairly comfortably," he said. "Historically second term presidents generally have rough patches."

    The president may be down in the polls but the Republican brand is even worse off at the moment, says analyst Charlie Cook.

    “For Republicans to take advantage of Democratic problems they really need to get their numbers, their party favorable numbers up and the unfavorable numbers down, and that simply hasn’t happened," he said.

    As bad as the public perception is at the moment, it might actually get worse when Congress returns to work in September.  Lawmakers are sharply divided on funding levels for the government, on immigration reform and on a move by some Republicans to defund the president’s health care law.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora