45% Say Random Group From Phone Book Better Than Current Congress

Rasmussen Reports
Feb. 02, 2010

More voters have greater confidence in the telephone book these days than in the current Congress, and most think their national legislators are paid too much to boot.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 45% of likely U.S. voters now think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation's problems than the current Congress. That's up 12 points from October 2008, just before the last congressional elections. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree, and another 19% are not sure.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters continue to believe those in Congress are paid too much. This is virtually identical to findings last August. but in October 2008, only 49% felt that way.

Three percent (3%) say members of Congress are paid too little and 28% say Congress' pay is about right.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters now say Congress is doing a poor job. That's the highest negative finding since Rasmussen Reports began surveying on the question in November 2006.

In October 2008, only 33% said a group randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the sitting Congress, while nearly half (49%) of voters didn't believe that to be true. Again, 19% were undecided.

By September of last year, however, voters were evenly divided on the question. Forty-two percent (42%) had more confidence in the random group from the phone book, but another 42% trusted the current Congress more.

Most male voters (51%) say a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress. Female voters are evenly divided on the question.

Democrats have majority control of both the House and Senate, so, not surprisingly, 59% of Republicans have more confidence in those randomly selected from a phone book, a view shared by 51% of voters not affiliated with either major political party. But 51% of Democrats disagree and put more faith in the current Congress.

The Political Class is even more loyal to the sitting Congress. While 58% of Mainstream voters think a random group from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation's problems, 86% of the Political Class have more confidence in the current Congress.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Mainstream voters say members of Congress are paid too much. Seventy-two percent (72%) of the Political Class say Congress' pay is about right.

Members of both the House and Senate are paid $174,000 per year. The political party leaders in both houses and the president pro tempore of the Senate earn $193,400 annually. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the highest paid member of Congress, earning $223,500.

Only 32% of voters are even somewhat confident that their representatives in Congress are actually representing their best interests, with eight percent (8%) who are very confident of that fact.

In December, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to the lowest level recorded in more than seven years of monthly tracking by Rasmussen Reports. The number of Republicans inched up by a point in December to 34.0%. That's the highest total for Republicans since December 2007, just before the 2008 presidential campaign season began.

When Obama was inaugurated last January, Democrats had a seven-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Republicans now have a five-point advantage. That change has been brought about partly by the declining number of Democrats and partly by the fact that unaffiliated voters are now more supportive of the GOP.

The announcement earlier this week by two prominent longtime Democratic senators, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, that they will not seek reelection this November is indicative of the tough political environment incumbents -- and Democrats, in particular -- appear to be facing this fall.

Rasmussen Reports has released Senate polls for Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and California.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters say it's at least somewhat likely that the next president will be a Republican. But it's important to note that the question did not specify whether that next president will be elected in 2012 or 2016.

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