The sport of congress watching advanced as more polls began to assess public opinion and apply ratings of their own, kind of like inverse handicapping. The CBS poll began asking the congress approval question in 1977. In May of 2005 CBS reported, “Today a majority of Americans, 55 percent, disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job.” CBS continued, “Approval ratings for Congress have historically been low, rarely moving above the 50 percent mark since this poll began asking the question,” and concurred with Gallup. “However, recent Congressional ratings are at some of their lowest points since the mid-nineties,” the network said.
According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, who started his survey in 2003, “If we ever found a Little League team behaving as poorly as the Republicans and Democrats or the congressman and senators, we'd probably disband the team and go home.” Of course he also has a book to promote, In Search of Self-Governance. But the findings of the survey that bears his name are consistent with Gallup’s, if not a bit more pessimistic.
The Rasmussen survey also says, “Eighty percent of respondents say members of Congress care more about advancing their own careers than helping their constituents.” That would make it the House of Self-Representatives, like Bachmann and Paul who haven’t posted scores yet.
Ratings aside for the moment, service in the lower chamber of congress, self and otherwise, has been the big league beginning for the careers of 19 presidents and 33 major presidential nominees.
Back in Gallup trends, Congress had a 19% rating in June 1979 and an 18% approval rating in March 1992. “All of the historical low ratings have come during sluggish economic times in the United States,” Gallup reported. Such a dim view of Congress by Americans has led to significant turnovers after the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections. Gallup concludes, “Unless conditions in the United States improve and Americans become more charitable in their ratings of Congress, the 2012 elections may result in another shake-up in Congress' membership.”