With essentially no track record to go on, Americans are giving the new 114th Congress a 16 percent job approval rating — the same as it was last month.
More than three-quarters of Americans disapprove in the new Gallup poll.
The polling outlet said there is reason to believe, though, that the current Congress will at least be rated more popularly than the last two divided Congresses: Typically, elections that hand control of Congress to one party have provided an initial uptick in support for the new Congress, which happened when Democrats took control of both chambers in 2007 and Republicans took full control back after the 1994 midterms.
“The 114th Congress begins its tenure with no immediate sign of renewed support, even from Republicans, although it is too early to know what partisans’ reactions will be as Congress settles down to action,” Gallup’s Andrew Dugan wrote. “It is possible that congressional approval will rise, especially if Congress finds itself in a legislative showdown with Obama that rallies Republican support. However, Congress’ low ratings in recent years suggest that convincing Americans that Congress is doing a good job will not prove easy for Republican leaders.”
In 2011, when Republicans took control of the House but not the Senate, Congress temporarily saw its approval jump by 7 points.
In 2003, after the GOP took back the Senate and retained its House majority — as the party did in the most recent election cycle — the new partisan makeup did not translate into higher approval.
“A crucial difference, though, is the 2003-2005 Congress began its tenure with a 49% approval rating — above the historical norm, and well above where the 114th Congress currently stands,” Mr. Dugan wrote.
The poll of 804 adults was conducted Jan. 5-8, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The new Congress was sworn in on Jan. 6.