At year’s end, it’s becoming clear that Americans have just about lost faith in government:
According to a new CNN/ORC Poll, 75% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and 69% are at least somewhat angry with the way things are going in the U.S., both metrics about as negative as they were in fall 2014.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that President Obama is receiving mixed reviews, to say the least. Although 67% of Democrats say he has brought about positive changes, Republicans are overwhelmingly fed up with what they consider to be his wrongheaded policies (63% say he’s changed the country for the worse). All in all, only 37% of Americans say his policies have changed America for the better.
Remarkably, 49% of Americans and 52% of Democrats say the president is handling climate change and the economy well; the eventual Democratic nominee won’t have to run too far from Obama. If Hillary Clinton sticks close to her former boss on these issues, her chances of winning next fall are strong. However, Democrats — and Hillary first among them — seem to have embraced Obama’s anti-guns agenda, which is extremely unpopular in the nation as a whole:
But on gun control, an issue where Obama has said he would like to do more, Obama earns broadly negative marks. Overall, 62% disapprove of his handling of that issue, 35% approve. Americans tilt against stricter gun control laws, however, with 51% opposed to them, 48% in favor.
If you’re a Republican, you know what this means: emphasize that Hillary and Obama want to take Americans’ guns away, and repeat that message over and over. Meanwhile, the main reason Americans are fed up with D.C. is — surprise — Congress:
Further east on Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress ends the year with mostly disapproving marks; just 14% approve of the legislative body, and 85% disapprove. That’s down from 21% approving in February, and about on par with the approval ratings Congress held last fall just before the midterm elections saw the GOP take control of the Senate. Among Republicans, just 12% approve of the way Congress is handling its job, down from 33% who approved in February.
GOP leadership in Congress will undoubtedly interpret this as a sign they should surrender to Obama even more. But Americans elected a Republican Senate and House because they thought a Republican Congress would undo some of Obama’s most disastrous policies. Instead, Congress has given into his demands on every possible occasion. See the recent omnibus disaster.
If Congress wants to improve its approval ratings, it must finally do what it’s supposed to do: introduce legislation that’s supported by voters, and rein in the president when he’s going too far. Submitting to his will even more will only make Congress less popular than it already is — if such a thing is possible.