Four in Five Americans Believe Country is Going Off on the Wrong Track

Just 4% of U.S. adults give Congress positive job ratings

Oct 28, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the government continues to come back from the 16 days it was shut down, people are still taking stock of the damage that was done and who may have 'won' and who lost during those two plus weeks. Unfortunately it looks like the country as a whole seems to have lost the most. Currently, just one in five Americans (20%) say the country is going in the right direction while 80% say it's going off on the wrong track. This is a large drop from last month when three in ten U.S. adults (29%) said the country was going in the right direction and 71% believed it was going off on the wrong track.  


These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,368 adults surveyed online between October 16 and 21, 2013 by Harris Interactive. Please note that most of the data was collected after the government re-opened after the shutdown. (Full findings, including data tables, can be found here)

Looking at President Obama, his ratings are mostly unchanged in the past month. In September 34% of Americans gave him positive ratings for the overall job he was doing, while 66% gave the President negative ratings. This month, almost the same number (35%) give the President positive marks for the overall job he is doing, while two-thirds (65%) give him negative ratings.

Looking back at the previous government shutdown, when Bill Clinton was President, he also didn't see much of a difference in his job ratings from before to after the shutdown.  In early December of 1995, after the 5 day shutdown, just under half of Americans (49%) gave the President positive marks, while 50% gave him negative ratings. In January, right after the government opened up again and right before he delivered his State of the Union address, 48% gave him positive ratings while 51% of U.S. adults gave him negative ratings.

It's much worse for Congress

Congress, however, seems yet to find their bottom. In September 7% of Americans gave them a positive rating for their job performance while 93% gave them a negative rating. This month they hit the lowest mark since The Harris Poll began measuring Congressional job approval in 2006 as just 4% of Americans give them positive ratings on the overall job they are doing while 96% give them negative ratings. In fact almost three-quarters of U.S. adults (72%) give Congress a rating of poor, the lowest on our scale.

A pox on all your houses

Looking at the recent partisan bickering in Washington, one-third of Americans (34%) say Republicans deserve the most blame while 17% say Democrats deserve the most blame. But more than two in five U.S. adults (42%) say both parties equally deserve the blame. When it comes to which chamber of Congress or which end of Pennsylvania Avenue deserves the most blame, almost half of Americans (46%) say all three equally deserve the blame. Just over one in five (22%) believe the U.S. House of Representatives deserves the most blame while 15% say The While House does and 9% believe the U.S. Senate deserves the most blame.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 16 and 21, 2013 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1220, 1225

The Harris Poll® #75, October 28, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

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SOURCE Harris Interactive