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A new poll conducted by the Associated Press suggests that approval of Congress is at the stunningly low figure of 5 percent — slightly more Americans than earlier this year said they believed lizard people controlled the government, as Politico's Jonathan Allen points out.

The point of the poll was generally to gauge Americans' reaction to the shutdown, which was already several days old when the polling began. What the AP found echoes what most other pollsters have found: People blame Republicans. The toplines of the poll from the Associated Press:

  • 68 percent consider the shutdown to be a "major problem."
  • Democrats get slightly better ratings on how they're dealing with the budget than Republicans, but both get terrible marks.
  • 52 percent of respondents said President Obama should cooperate more with Republicans on the shutdown, while 63 percent thought Republicans needed to cooperate more with Obama.
  • But only 15 percent of Tea Party Republicans think Republicans should cooperate with Obama — a group that comprises 40 percent of the party overall.

But it's that Congress number that deserves most of the attention. Five percent approval is almost unheard of, and it gets worse. At right is a breakdown of the strength of approval and disapproval expressed by respondents, from high approval (blue) to high disapproval (red). The takeaway: One percent of the country strongly approves of Congress. One percent. Sixty times as many people have equally strong negative opinion of elected officials.

This data mirrors another new survey from Gallup released on Wednesday. "Americans' mentions of either the economy in general or jobs in particular as the nation's top problem had already been declining in 2013," the firm reports. But: "Both issues dropped further as top-of-mind concerns in the Oct. 3-6 survey, conducted in the midst of the U.S. government shutdown." The new winner? Americans are most worried about government dysfunction, represented in yellow-green on the graph below.

That number doubled from 16 percent to 33 percent over the past month. In other words, one-third of Americans think the main problem facing the country is the government — with that sentiment stronger among Democrats than Republicans.

These polls aren't proscriptive, of course, merely reflecting volatile attitudes. But, given deep-seated disapproval and critique, it does suggest that one trend could be at risk: the rubber-stamp reelection of members of Congress.

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