Americans are so disenchanted with Congress that they don't even approve of their own local representatives anymore, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll has found.
The findings are significant because they undercut a long-running phenomenon in politics: While voters frequently tell pollsters they want to "throw all the bums out," they are much more likely to give higher marks to the politician who represents them. That has always helped explain why incumbents maintain such a sky-high winning percentage even when congressional approval ratings are in the toilet.
But the poll released Tuesday found that a majority of respondents, 51 percent, disapprove of the job their own congressman is doing – the first time that number has cleared 50 percent. Forty-one percent of the 1,029 people polled gave their member a thumbs-up, a record low. The survey was conducted from July 30-Aug. 3 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
In the weeks before the wave election of 2010 that sent 87 new House Republicans to Washington, 51 percent of voters approved of their own congressman.
Of course, the ratings for Congress generally remain far lower and continue to hover around an all-time low. A Gallup survey in June found that just 7 percent of voters had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress, down from 10 percent in the previous survey.
Democrats garnered higher ratings than Republicans in the latest poll; 49 percent of respondents held a favorable view of them compared 35 percent for the G.O.P., The Washington Post reported.
Partisans are overwhelmingly loyal to their own camp. Fully 85 percent of Democrats have favorable opinions of their own party, along with 79 percent of Republicans who are favorable toward their own party. Independents are not fond of either party, but are more anti-GOP, with 61 percent disapproving and 31 percent approving. Independents dislike Democrats as well, but by a smaller 50-41 margin.