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As we’ve seen this week, with polls like that of the AP showing Congress’s approval ratings near the margin of error, Congress is not terribly popular. That inspired me to ask a question: When was it popular? Have there been times when Congress had soaring approval ratings from the public?

To figure this out, I went over to Gallup’s page on Congress and the Public, where it shows the results of its public opinion polls on congressional approval ratings. The polls go back to 1974.

Below, you can see the fifteen times when Congress had a net approval rating of over 20%. I listed them in order of gross approval, rather than net approval.

(1)    11-14 Oct 2001: 84-10 (+74) Oct 7, 2001, War in Afghanistan commences.

(2)    8-11 Nov 2001: 73-19 (+54)  Oct 26, 2001, GWB signs Patriot Act.

(3)    6-9 Dec 2001: 72-19 (+53)

(4)    4-7 Mar 2002: 63-28 (+35)

(5)    4-6 Feb 2002: 62-28 (+34)

(6)    7-9 Jan 2002: 62-29 (+33)

(7)    7-9 Apr 2003: 58-33 (+25)  March 20, 2003, Iraq War commences.

(8)    6 -9 May 2002: 57-33 (+24)

(9)    8-11 Apr 2002 57-34 (+23)

(10) 13-15 Feb 1998 57-33 (+24)

(11) 2-4 Dec 2001 56-34 (+22)

(12) 30 Jan – 1 Feb 1998 56-35 (+21)

(13) 5-7 Mar 2001 55-28 (+27)

(14) 5-8 Apr 2001 55-32 (+23)

(15) 1-4 Feb 2001 53-32 (+21)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 11 seem to be a post-9/11 honeymoon period for Congress, with the rise of the nationalistic sentiment that followed in the wake of a tragedy and the start of a war. 7, as noted, coincided with the start of the Iraq War.

I’m not sure, though, why Congress was so popular in January/February 1998 and February-April 2001. (I was in elementary school and junior high, respectively).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting! (3+ / 0-)

    It looks like an eyeball overall average is around 40 or a bit below, with the ratings only really tanking in 2006 and not recovering except for a blip in 09.

    If you map that drop, they should gently glide to zero in about 2023.  :-)

    (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 06:56:43 PM PDT

  •  Jan-Feb 1998 was the impeachment of Clinton (2+ / 0-)

    It was also the heart of the dot-com boom.

    The economy was really freaking good, and Clinton stood up and said so at the state of the union, looking confident and powerful in spite of his personal troubles.  Aside from the stupidity of the impeachment, which taught me that regardless of speeches in Congress, no Congressman ever changes their vote from the party line on anything important, it was a very optimistic point in US history for a lot of Americans.

    Indeed, the defeat of the impeachment may have made people think Congress worked.  Go figure.

    I got nothing for Feb-April 2001.  That's in the period where the dot-com bubble was starting to collapse, but it was a long slide...a big drop in April 2000, then a long flat period, then another plunge April 2001 that pretty much showed that the "new economy" assumptions weren't true.  Enron hadn't yet gone belly-up but it was starting to look bad and IT went from a boom industry to sudden austerity, that has only gotten tighter in the last decade.

  •  Ooops, I'm off by a year (3+ / 0-)

    1998 was the year when Clinton had just said "I did not have sex with that woman" shortly before his SOTU speech.  So I remembered the speech and the optimism right, but Congress hadn't yet descended into impeachment idiocy.

  •  Short window really (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HappyinNM, kurt

    Would be interesting to see the popularity of Congress when it passed the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act,  or Social Security

    Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
    Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

    by BentLiberal on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 07:21:09 PM PDT

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