Politics & Government

Congress gets low job performance rating from Californians in poll

WASHINGTON — Nearly seven in 10 Californians are dissatisfied with the way Congress has handled the issue of health care, and two-thirds of the state's voters say they disapprove of Congress' overall job performance, according to the latest Field Poll.

The disapproval is widely bipartisan. Eighty-five percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats say they disapprove of the way Congress has handled health care. Fifty-four percent of Democrats disapprove of Congress' overall job performance, compared to 83 percent of Republicans.

The ratings are among the most negative assessments of Washington lawmakers since the Field Poll began tracking congressional job approval 18 years ago.

State voters also have a more negative than positive view of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. Forty-six percent of Californians disapprove of her job performance, while only 39 percent approve.

"Voters are very dispirited," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

Despite the low marks, the poll shows that California voters still lean Democratic, by a wide margin. Fifty percent of the poll respondents said they're inclined to support the Democrat in their own congressional district this fall, compared with 32 percent who said they're likely to favor the Republican candidate.

Jeremiah Sasser, 31, of Modesto, one of the poll respondents, said he disapproved of both Congress and its handling of health care.

"They're trying to bring in a new health care program vs. just fixing the problems that we have with the current system," Sasser said. "I think the majority of the people are actually happy with their health care. It's just that there are some problems that need to be fixed."

Sasser, who is registered "decline to state," said he tried to pass along his concerns to members of Congress, only to receive form letters in response.

"Overall, I don't think they really listen to us as people. … They just blow you off," he said.

After watching health care top the agenda in Washington for the past six months, DiCamillo said the public is tired of the process.

"It's like the viewing of the making of sausage," he said. "It's really not a pretty process because deals are being cut, interest groups are being catered to, and the public really recoils from that process when it takes a close look at it.

"Usually, it doesn't have that close a look at legislation," DiCamillo added, "but this particular piece of legislation is probably drawing more attention than just about any piece of legislation in recent memory."