Field Poll: California voters don't think much of Congress, appear weary of two-party conflict

Sacramento BeeJuly 12, 2012 

California voters don't think much of Congress and appear to be getting fed up with two-party conflict in Washington.

A new Field Poll finds Congress winning high marks from just 17 percent of registered voters in the Golden State. And nearly half of people likely to vote Nov. 6 would prefer that Congress and the White House be controlled by one party.

A majority of Californians last gave Congress high marks in October 2003, and representatives' and senators' collective approval rating has been bouncing along the bottom of public opinion ever since. It hit the basement in September 2011 at 9 percent approval and has improved only slightly since then. Three-fourths of registered voters still disapprove of the performance at the U.S. Capitol.

Only 37 percent of voters in Democrat-heavy California approve of the job congressional Democrats are doing. Barely a fifth approve of the job Republicans are doing. A plurality of Republican voters – 47 percent to 40 percent – disapprove of the job GOP representatives are doing.

The negativity is contributing to an increasingly popular view that the country would be better off if the same party ran everything. According to the poll, 46 percent of likely voters believe Congress should be controlled by the same party as the president, an increase from the 37 percent who believed that in Field's February poll.

In both surveys, about a third believed divided government is the best route.

"People are getting frustrated – they see things moving in the wrong direction and (Republicans and Democrats) just fighting each other," said Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.

He said the desire for partisan advantage likely accounts for some of the poll's findings – 56 percent of Democrats believe Democratic President Barack Obama should have a Democratic Congress with which to work, while 45 percent of Republicans believe one party should control each branch of government.

But DiCamillo said the fact that one-party rule is looking better and better indicates more is afoot. More than half of independents now favor one-party rule, an 18-point jump from the February survey.

"Party loyalties," DiCamillo said, "aren't as strong as what people would like to see out of (Congress), and that is for them to do the people's business."

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