Poll: Congress gets record low approval rating in midterm year

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WASHINGTON — A new Gallup survey indicates that the congressional approval rating has dropped to its lowest point ever–16%–in a midterm election year since such ratings were first measured by the organization in 1974.

That sets the stage for potentially big turnover this fall in Congress. Gallup notes that in midterm years when the congressional job approval is low, there tends to be more shake-up at the voting boots.

This year’s rating is five percentage points lower than in 2010, when the House of Representatives underwent major changes, and Republicans took back control of the chamber.

Another low approval year was 1994, when only 22% of Americans were satisfied with Congress. That also was a big turnover year, with about 10% of incumbents losing their seats, according to Gallup.

But in 2002, when the approval rating was at a whopping 50%, only four percent lost their jobs.

Gallup noted that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss in Virginia last week represents some of the anti-Washington sentiments represented in its latest poll.

More broadly, Americans feel about the same way now as they did in 2010 about the way things are going in the United States. Four years ago, only 22% were satisfied; today, 23% have the same view.

Political observers generally expect Republicans to maintain control of the House, but whether Democrats can hold onto the Senate is a bigger question. The party is defending 21 out of the 36 seats in play this November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.

For the survey, Gallup interviewed 1,027 adults via telephone from June 5 to June 8. The sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

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