A huge majority of Americans say that the last Congress, whose term ended Thursday, accomplished less than usual, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But the poll finds Americans somewhat more optimistic about what the next Congress might accomplish.
According to the new survey, 61 percent of Americans think that the 112th Congress accomplished less than usual, while 20 percent say it accomplished about the same as usual and only 3 percent say that it accomplished more than usual. Those perceptions appear to match up with reality. According to data from the House Clerk's Office and recently reported by HuffPost, the 112th Congress passed fewer bills than any Congress since at least the 1940s.
The opinion that the 112th Congress accomplished less than usual cut across party lines, with 66 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents suggesting Congress had been particularly inactive.
The new poll also found that Americans don't think the 113th Congress, whose term just began, will be quite so unproductive. A 38 percent plurality of respondents said that the new Congress will accomplish about the same as usual. Thirty percent said the new Congress will once again accomplish less than usual, but only 7 percent said that Congress will accomplish more than usual.
Although respondents' predictions about the 113th Congress aren't as dire as their retrospective opinions about the 112th, a YouGov/Economist poll conducted in January of 2011, shortly after the start of the last Congress, shows that predictions about the 112th Congress at that time were more optimistic than predictions about the 113th are now. In that survey, 20 percent of Americans said that the 112th Congress would be more productive than usual, 39 percent said it would be the same as usual, and 27 percent said it would be less productive than usual.
The new survey found House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who faced a minor rebellion among members of his caucus before winning reelection as speaker on Thursday, is rated negatively by a majority of Americans. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of Boehner and 52 percent have an unfavorable view. Boehner received a 42 percent favorable rating from Republicans in the new poll, down from a 52 percent in a YouGov/Economist poll conducted in December, although sample sizes for Republicans in the two polls are too small to support conclusions about the change in Boehner's rating. Boehner's overall rating was mostly unchanged between the two polls.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Jan. 2-3 among 1,000 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, though that inherent variation does not take into account other potential sources of error, including statistical bias in the sample. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.