Another Record Low for Congress

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According to a recent Gallup poll, legislators are perceived as having less integrity than any other profession—less than telemarketers, car salesmen, and lobbyists

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Gallup

A substantial majority of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress as either "low" or "very low" in a new Gallup poll released on Monday, rating members lower than telemarketers, lobbyists and car salesman, and tying a record for Gallup's honesty and ethics poll for any profession.

Sixty-four percent of Americans say they would rate members of Congress' honesty and ethical standards as "low" or "very low," with just 7 percent answering either "very high" or "high." Twenty-seven percent rated members as having average ethical standards.

Previous results from the poll showed that only 20 percent of registered voters would vote to reelect most members of Congress, and a Gallup poll earlier in November showed that just 13 percent of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.

The 64-percent "low/very low" rating ties the worst score previously recorded: In 2008, 64 percent of Americans rated lobbyists as having "low" or "very low" ethical standards. The new rating for members of Congress is one point worse than the 63-percent score recorded for telemarketers in 2002 and car salespeople in 1988.

In the new poll, lobbyists continued to take a beating: 62 percent rated their honesty and ethics as either "low" or "very low." The next-worst were telemarketers, at 53 percent.

The profession rated highest: Nurses. Eighty-four percent rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as "very high" or "high," with just 1 percent rating them "low" or "very low."

And 26 percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as "very high" or "high," compared to 27 percent who say they are "low" or "very low" -- roughly in the middle of the pack of the professions tested by Gallup. Forty-six percent said journalists had average honesty and ethical standards.

The poll was conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 1, surveying 1,012 Americans. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.

Gallup has been testing the honesty and ethical standards of various professions since 1976 -- including an annual survey since 1990.

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Steven Shepard is the polling editor for National Journal Hotline.

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