The approval rating of Congress hit an all-time low in the months before the 2012 presidential election. And it’s not alone.
When asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job,” just 10% of respondents said they approve, according to pollster Gallup Inc. That approval rating ties February 2012 as the lowest result Gallup has received in the 38 years it’s been asking the question.
But there’s other news: In January 2012, Gallup asked people if they were satisfied with the power and influence of major corporations in the United States. Only 30% answered yes – up one percentage point from the all-time low in 2011 of 29%. Clearly, a majority of people think corporations wield too much clout in policy and daily life. Right?
Unfortunately, the picture isn’t as simple as that. The question was asked as part of a political poll in which just 29% said they were satisfied with the power and influence of federal government. That figure was an all-time low, down from 31% in 2011.
But what seems really significant about the graphic is that this year represents the only time in the 11-year history of this particular survey in which the perception of government was worse than the perception of big business. Perhaps it’s the beginning of a trend.
But remember, this survey is taken in a political context – and during the heat of a political season in which the role of government is the dominant issue. And the results broke cleanly along political lines. Republicans tend to be more dissatisfied with the power and influence of the federal government (84% dissatisfied) and less dissatisfied with that of big business (48% dissatisfied). Predictiably, Democrats tend to offer the opposite results (47% dissatisfied with the federal government and 71% with big business).
So once again, it all comes down to the independents. What do they say? They hate everything (75% are dissatisfied with the federal government and 71% with big business.)
Here’s the big picture. The Gallup survey clearly demonstrates that our distrust for the largest institutions has grown over time. Except, perhaps, for the political parties that spend so much time and money dividing us.