Congress appears to be less than the sum of its parts. Current approval of the job Democrats are doing in Congress has a current trend estimate of 34.5%, while the estimated approval of Republicans in Congress is 28.8%. But overall approval of Congress has sunk to a miserable 22.6%, less than that of either party.
Disapproval of Congressional Republicans remains a good deal higher than for Democrats due to a higher "don't know" rate in evaluating the Democrats. Disapproval of Republicans is at 64.8% while disapproval of Democrats is at 51.5%. Approval of both parties has been trending clearly down since January, while disapproval has trended up over the same time for both parties.
Amid the stories noting that approval of Congress is now below that of President Bush, it would be good to recognize that such simplistic comparisons are dangerous. Voters carry a generally negative view of the institution on Capitol Hill. Divided by parties, support is a bit higher.
Still, neither party can be comfortable with their current approval ratings. Republicans should note that they continue down despite enjoying a new Democratic majority to target for criticism. And Democrats should take little comfort in the small advantage they hold in approval. Democratic approval is trending down a bit faster than is Republican approval. Neither seems to have sold the public on their legislative agendas.
(Technical Note: The amount of polling on Congressional parties is more limited than one might wish. These trend estimates are based on all available polling, pooling the data to get better estimates than from any single poll. Individual polls, such as the new Harris Poll taken 7/6-9/07, produce somewhat different results, as seen by the spread of points around the lines in the figures. Harris, for example, found Democrats in Congress at 31% positive, 64% negative, while Republicans were at 21% positive and 76% negative. They found overall approval of Congress at 24% positive and 72% negative.)
Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.