Two-thirds of Americans think Congress is the worst that it's been in their lifetimes. And since a key measure of Congress' performance is "doing something," the data backs that opinion up.
One positive aspect to the new poll from CNN: America is neither red nor blue in thinking Congress is awful. "Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. Bipartisanship at last!
Of course, given how robust the disapproval of Congress is, it's no surprise that majorities of each party agree on the topic. Only 28 percent of Americans disagree that this is the worst Congress of their lifetimes. "No, I think I remember a worse Congress once, probably," responded less than a third of America.
"According to the survey," CNN reports, "73% say that this Congress has so far done nothing to address the country's problems, with one in four disagreeing." And while "nothing" is obviously strong, it is very much the case that this Congress has been historically unproductive. According to GovTrack, the first year of this 113th Congress passed fewer bills and resolutions than any first year of any of the last 20 Congresses. Not surprisingly, the number of pages of new laws is also down substantially. (If you're curious, the average length of passed legislation in 2013 was 10.7 pages — on the low end for the past 20 years.)
As GovTrack points out, this lack of productivity should annoy anti-goverment types as well as those looking for new laws: "Keep in mind that it takes a law to repeal a law. Unless you think today’s America is perfect, there are probably more than 66 laws you want passed."
There isn't really any good news in the poll for Congress, except that younger people are less likely to think that this is the worst Congress in their lifetimes. Which may mean that the approval bar has been set low enough that a semi-functional Congress can clear it easily. And a bit of other good news: according to Gallup, Congress ended the year about where it started. In January, approval was 14 percent. In December: 12 percent. At that pace, Congress won't lose all support until 2019.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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