Hey Congress: How Low Can Your Approval Rating Go?

The body's approval rating is at 13 percent to start the year. Let's see where those numbers wind up.

National Journal

Here's a fun game: What will the approval level of Congress look like this year?

Americans don't like Congress. That's nothing new. But in recent years, polling for the legislative body has been at historic lows. What will this week's ratings look like? Single digits? Teens? Twenties?!

So, Gallup released its first reading of Congress' job approval of 2014 on Tuesday. As of Jan. 8, when this poll concluded, 13 percent of Americans approve of the jobs those senators and representatives are doing. This is unchanged from December and up from the all-time low of 9 percent. Nine percent! That's only 7 percent more than the number of Americans who looked at a picture of NBC's Brian Williams and thought it was Joe Biden.

Congress is currently debating giving unemployment insurance for people out of work for over 26 weeks. It's unclear whether this widely popular policy will pass, however. The extension's failure could lower members' rating. But it's at least as likely to remain the same, considering the apathy Americans feel toward their elected officials.

Or Congress could have a come-to-_____ moment, pass comprehensive immigration reform, increase the minimum wage, pass a farm bill, put new limits on surveillance, add a bipartisan jobs plan, and get to long-needed tax reform — all in an election year. The people would rejoice at this new sense of compromise and seeming maturity from the adults in Washington. We could see numbers like from 2009 where Congress' approval rating was at 39 percent.

But likely, it won't. In fact, many of these actions could anger more people, and the approval rating could go down.

Let's get realistic for a moment, however. The House will only be in session for around 90 days until November's midterm elections. Yes, Congress will probably do less this year than it did in 2013. And last year, they didn't do much.

So, where will the approval rating for Congress go this year? Let's wait and see.