Most Americans Have Low Expectations for New Congress, Pollster Finds

December 14, 2022 by Dan McCue
Most Americans Have Low Expectations for New Congress, Pollster Finds
(Photo by Dan McCue)

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – A majority of Americans expect little change when Republicans take control of Congress in January, and four out of five said their expectations that Congress will effectively conduct the people’s business remains low.

Those opinions were captured in the latest Monmouth University poll, the results of which were released Wednesday morning.

The survey also found the public has a negative opinion of both political parties when it comes to the handling of key economic issues, but Democrats tend to hold a more positive opinion of their party’s congressional leadership.

Just 18% of Americans expect that GOP control of the House will change Washington for the better. Another 21% say it will change for the worse, but just over half (51%) say much won’t change because of the switch in House leadership. 

When Democrats won control of the House in 2018 while Republicans held onto the Senate, slightly more Americans (28%) expected to see an improvement in the way Washington worked, while 16% expected a change for the worse and 42% expected no change.

“Some pundits look at these election results and claim that Americans want divided control. I think these frequent leadership changes are more a matter of chronic dissatisfaction with Washington,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“Expectations for Washington getting its act together are very low when you ask Americans directly. They’ve seen this show before,” he said.

Just 36% of the public think it is at least somewhat likely that the new Congress will enact policies to help the middle class. When Democrats controlled both chambers at the start of President Joe Biden’s term in 2021, 58% anticipated Congress would enact middle class policies. Expectation levels were similar in 2017 (54% likely) when Republicans controlled Congress during former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

In both of these prior polls, about eight in 10 partisans in the majority party (81% of Democrats in 2021 and 82% of Republicans in 2017) as well as a majority of independents (56% in 2021 and 53% in 2017) were optimistic about Congress enacting middle class policies. Now, this opinion stands at 46% likely among Republicans, 34% among independents and 33% among Democrats.

Furthermore, about seven in 10 Americans say neither political party is paying enough attention to everyday economic issues that affect people like them — 71% say this about the Republican Party and 68% for the Democratic Party. Overall, 26% of the public approves of the job the U.S. Congress is doing while 62% disapprove. Similarly, 28% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 68% say it is on the wrong track.

Turning to the White House, 42% approve of the overall job Biden is doing as president while 50% disapprove. 

The current rating is a nominal improvement from prior polls this year. Biden’s rating dipped as low as 36% approve and 58% disapprove in June. His job rating shortly before the recent midterm elections was 40% approve and 53% disapprove.

None of the current party leaders in Congress earn positive ratings among the American public, although the Democrats do better among fellow partisans than the Republicans. 

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earns a negative 29% approve and 49% disapprove rating from all American adults, but gets an overwhelmingly favorable 69% and 10% rating from Democrats. 

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is hoping to succeed Pelosi in the speaker’s chair, earns an overall negative rating of 12% approve and 34% disapprove, which includes a nominally net positive rating of 29% approve and 20% disapprove among his fellow Republicans. 

However, most Americans, including just over half of his fellow Republicans, have no opinion of McCarthy’s performance as party leader. Only one in five Americans have no opinion of Pelosi.

Turning to the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., earns a negative 19% approve and 37% disapprove rating from all Americans, but a positive 43% and 10% rating among Democrats. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the other hand, is the least popular of the four leaders, earning clearly negative ratings from the public as a whole (12%-56%) as well as among his fellow Republicans (25% and 48%). 

Current ratings for Pelosi, Schumer and McConnell are in line with polling over the past three years. This is the first time Monmouth has asked about McCarthy.

“Pelosi may have been a lightning rod for Republicans over the past 20 years, but she has clearly earned the admiration of her fellow Democrats,” Murray said. “McCarthy starts off as a blank slate for most of the public. It will be interesting to see if he can build the same kind of party loyalty as Pelosi — that is, if he actually gets the chance to succeed her.

“McCarthy could end up as unpopular as McConnell, but public disdain for the Senate GOP leader is due in part to his ruthlessness in holding onto power. It’s not clear whether McCarthy is made of the same stuff,” he said.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from Dec. 8-12, 2022, with 805 adults in the United States.  

The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 5.0 percentage points for the full sample.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

A+
a-
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Congress
  • Joe Biden
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • Opinion Polls
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Opinion Polls

    About Four in 10 Americans See China as an Enemy, a Pew Report Shows. That's a Five-Year High

    WASHINGTON (AP) — About four in 10 Americans now label China as an enemy, up from a quarter two years... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — About four in 10 Americans now label China as an enemy, up from a quarter two years ago and reaching the highest level in five years, according to an annual Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday. Half of Americans think of China as... Read More

    Climate Change Concerns Grow, but Few Think Biden's Climate Law Will Help, an AP-NORC Poll Finds

    Like many Americans, Ron Theusch is getting more worried about climate change. A resident of Alden, Minnesota, Theusch has noticed increasingly... Read More

    Like many Americans, Ron Theusch is getting more worried about climate change. A resident of Alden, Minnesota, Theusch has noticed increasingly dry and mild winters punctuated by short periods of severe cold — symptoms of a warming planet. As he thinks about that, future generations are on his... Read More

    Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in US More Likely to Believe in Climate Change: AP-NORC Poll

    Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States are more likely than the overall adult population to... Read More

    Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States are more likely than the overall adult population to believe in human-caused climate change, according to a new poll. It also suggests that partisanship may not have as much of an impact on this group's environmental... Read More

    Are Americans Feeling Like They Get Enough Sleep? Dream On, a New Gallup Poll Says

    NEW YORK (AP) — If you're feeling — YAWN — sleepy or tired while you read this and wish you... Read More

    NEW YORK (AP) — If you're feeling — YAWN — sleepy or tired while you read this and wish you could get some more shut-eye, you're not alone. A majority of Americans say they would feel better if they could have more sleep, according to a... Read More

    Americans Think a President's Power Should Be Checked, AP-NORC Poll Finds — Unless Their Side Wins

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Like many Americans, Richard Bidon says he'd like to see the U.S. government “go back to its... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Like many Americans, Richard Bidon says he'd like to see the U.S. government “go back to its original design” — a system of checks and balances developed nearly 240 years ago to prevent any branch, especially the presidency, from becoming too powerful. But that's mainly... Read More

    Many Americans Say Immigrants Contribute to Economy but There's Worry Over Risks, AP-NORC Poll Finds

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are more worried about legal immigrants committing crimes in the U.S. than they were a few... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are more worried about legal immigrants committing crimes in the U.S. than they were a few years ago, a change driven largely by increased concern among Republicans, while Democrats continue to see a broad range of benefits from immigration, a new poll... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top