Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Measuring Success in Congress

by shamanic

Media outlets are beginning to poll the public about the first 100 days of the new Democratic congressional majority, and the results, while generally positive, still leave lots of room for improvement.

The Post says that Democrats in Congress have a fairly staggering approval number of 54%, and the Congress overall gets an approval rating of 44%. I can't recall the last time a poll gave Congress that kind of approval rating, but the Post helpfully notes that April of 2003 was the last time 44% of poll respondents liked Congress.

Nearly 70% approve of the job their own representative is doing, the highest that number has been since 1998, and 53% approve of the job Nancy Pelosi is doing. By contrast, only 37% felt the same about Newt Gingrich in April 1995.

Interestingly, only 26% believe that Congress has accomplished a lot in its first 100 days. I suspect two things of that number: first, there has not been a lot of success from Congress in concluding the Iraq war. I think the incremental advances that have been made on that front are not enough to drive the number higher. Second, if people continue to feel that way, the other positive figures will drop fairly quickly.

Frankly, I think that we the public have some unrealistic expectations at this point. Everyone (except for the 30-percenters, who would follow a large rock to the bottom of a lake if they were told it was their leader) is so sick of Bush that I think we all expected a sea change with dramatic, sweeping results right out of the gate. Even if we were able to contain our expectations, we all had a secret hope that it would be so.

The Dems have made progress, and the game has definitely changed since they took the place over. I have my criticisms ("Transition the Mission"? Who thought of that worthless slogan?), but overall I'm pretty pleased, and looking forward to the return of even more sanity in government.

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