Pew Research puts its data-encrusted fingers back on America's pulse in an effort to find out what voters think of Washington. It appears they generally try not to think about it at all. But the Pew poll released today does offer some interesting insights: Democrats are bored with Democrats, independents blame Republicans, and Republicans hate everyone — but a closer look at the data may reveal why Congressional Republicans are tracking higher than Democrats on some of the key issues of the day.
Obama is more popular than leaders in Congress.
Pew's data suggests that more than half of Americans approve of the job the president is doing — a slight increase recently. As we noted last week, Obama's second-term ratings continue to generally track with Bush's second term.
And Congress' approval ratings continue to track with various diseases and horrible life events. Fewer than a third of Americans think Congressional Democrats are doing good work; only about one-in-five feel the same way about Republicans.
Republicans dislike everyone in government.
The net approval — meaning approval percentage minus disapproval percentage — for each group by party is revealing, if not surprising. Democrats like Obama and Democratic leaders. That's not a surprise. Independents barely like Obama and hate both parties. Hence, "independent." And Republicans dislike everyone on net, including 42 percent who approve of their party's leaders and 51 percent — more than half! — who don't. Republican anti-government talking points aren't just talking points.
People are slightly more likely to back Republicans on key issues.
Despite Congressional Republicans being far less popular, the party still holds a tiny advantage when people are asked who would do a better job on various issues. Pew compared the data over time — the Republican preferability on gun control and the economy is recent, if not huge.
Democrats are less supportive of Democratic leaders on issues.
One possible reason for the Republicans getting better ratings on issues is that Democrats are less likely to suggest that they prefer their own party in addressing them. Republicans more strongly support their party on every issue, but on the economy and gun control, the difference between the parties is in the double digits.
Washington doesn't work, and independents blame Republicans.
American voters, who apparently pay attention to the news, think that Washington isn't working well. Or, to be specific, vast majorities from every party feel that way. Four-in-five Democrats and Independents think Washington isn't working well; nine-in-ten Republicans agree. As for the cause of the perceived dysfunction, there's also some agreement. Half of Republicans blame Obama, but a plurality of Democrats and independents blame Republicans. A fifth of Republicans and independents blame both sides equally.
We will update these numbers once Washington politics becomes popular again. Or our grandchildren will.
Photo: The president plays golf. (AP)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.