Poll: Congress gets 84 percent disapproval rating from Californians

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 2, 2011 

Californians remain poisonously skeptical about Congress, and many blame both parties for the latest budget-cutting failure on Capitol Hill, a statewide poll shows.

In a warning sign for any incumbent stuck in a competitive district, 84 percent of Californians surveyed said they disapproved of the job Congress is doing. Only 10 percent said they approved, according to the Field Poll.

"The American public is going to be very frustrated at the polls next year if the status quo remains," predicted Rep. Jim Costa D-Fresno.

The antipathy is bipartisan, and it's growing as the approval rate falls. In September 2010, 19 percent of Californians surveyed approved of the job Congress was doing. The year before, 23 percent approved.

"We're in a deeper trough now than we've ever been in," Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo noted Thursday. "These are record low (approval) levels."

Any widespread throw-the-bums out sentiment comes at a particularly sensitive time for California's 53 House members, who could formerly depend on partisan gerrymandering to shield them even amid public unrest. Now, through districts recast by a citizens commission, more incumbents may be vulnerable.

Republicans currently control the House, with a 242-192 margin, but the survey shows neither party is immune to public disdain.

Notably, 51 percent of Californians surveyed blamed Republicans and Democrats equally for the high-profile failure of the so-called supercommittee established by Congress to craft a $1.2 trillion budget-cutting package.

The panel, equally divided between House and Senate members and Democrats and Republicans, was established in August after partisan brinkmanship brought the federal government close to defaulting on its debt obligations. The deadlocked panel conceded defeat Nov. 21, setting in motion automatic budget cuts next year.

Seventy-five percent of Californians surveyed called the committee's failure "very serious." The poll found "large proportions of Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisans think both parties … share equally in the blame."

A plurality of Californians – 40 percent – believes it won't matter for the nation's struggling economy which party controls Congress after next year's election.

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