February 19, 2013

Most Say Political System Works Fine, Lawmakers are the Problem

56%

A majority of Americans say the political system can work fine; it’s the members of Congress who are the problem.

Opinions about Congress, while little changed over the past year, remain very negative, according to a survey conducted Jan. 9-13. Just 23% offer a favorable opinion of Congress, while 68% express an unfavorable view.

Favorable views of Congress hit 50% in spring 2009 but subsequently have plummeted. That contrasts with the period between 1985 and 2005 when Congress was generally viewed more favorably than unfavorably.

When asked if the current problem with Congress is a broken political system, or the members themselves, most people continue to point to the lawmakers. A majority (56%) says that the political system can work fine, it is the members of Congress that are the problem. Only about a third (32%) say that lawmakers have good intentions and it is the political system that is broken.

At a time when there are wide partisan differences in opinions about government, there is broad agreement that members of Congress are the problem. Virtually identical majorities of Republicans (58%), Democrats (57%) and independents (56%) say that lawmakers, rather than the political system, are the problem with Congress. Read more