The division and lack of action around the coronavirus and the economy are taking their toll.
The majority of registered voters say they disapprove of how Congress is handling its job amid a flurry of recent efforts from lawmakers to swiftly pass another economic relief package as coronavirus cases surpass fifteen million, a new poll reported Wednesday.
66 percent of voters disapprove of the job that Congress is doing, with 32 percent saying they strongly disapprove, while just 34 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, including 8 percent who strongly approve, according to a Hill-HarrisX poll.
“What’s surprising is dissatisfaction isn’t higher,” Dr. Ken E. Mitchell, professor and chair of the political science and sociology department at Monmouth University, said in an email interview, citing Wednesday’s highest single-day coronavirus death count and how officials in the U.K. and Canada “found the time to approve an American company’s Covid vaccine,” while the United States waits for the Food and Drug Administration’s consent.
“Popular frustration is palpable and any poll on any part of the federal government is apt to be negative,” he added.
The poll also revealed that political party affiliation didn’t significantly impact voter behavior, as 67 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents who participated in the survey said they disapproved of the job that Congress is doing.
Although political ideology appeared uniform in voting on Congress’ job performance, voters from urban areas were more forgiving than poll participants in suburban and rural ones.
Forty-seven percent of voters from urban areas say they approve of how Congress is handling its job, while just 28 percent of voters from suburban areas and 29 percent from rural say the same.
The survey comes as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle race to pass another coronavirus stimulus package before the year’s end since many key programs initiated from previous pandemic-related legislation are set to expire. A bipartisan group of lawmakers put forward a compromise plan that’s fired the most optimism from Capitol Hill compared to other packages, like the White House proposal that received backlash from Democrats as it cut federal unemployment insurance—a Democratic priority.
“Public support must be crafted, constructed on substantive policy and performance, both are lacking,” Mitchell said. “Limited bipartisanship, a fashionable talking point among pundits, misses the mark.”
If Congress fails to deliver, nearly twelve million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year and millions of renters will face eviction struggles, causing poverty to spike.
“Ratings of Congress and congressional leaders remain low and are hurt by partisan gridlock on high-profile issues like coronavirus relief and the next economic stimulus bill,” Dritan Nesho, chief pollster and CEO of HarrisX, told Hill.TV.
“Voters are practical and want action; their view is akin to the old adage: when your house is burning you do not squabble over the size of the firehose,” Nesho added.
The House is also slated to pass a stopgap bill to avert the government shutdown after funding expires Friday, which would give negotiators more time to form a thorough deal.
“The USA no longer exhibits a social contract based on shared values, that’s what is unfolding today and in recent years. Bipartisanship (strong or weak) is a consequence rather than a cause of American political decay today due to the absence of shared values,” Mitchell said.
The Hill-HarrisX poll surveyed 3,785 registered voters from Dec. 3-7, with a margin of error of 1.58 percentage points.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.
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