Thursday, September 21, 2006

Most voters dissatisfied with Congress: poll

Most voters dissatisfied with Congress: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the congressional election less than two months away, an overwhelming majority of Americans expressed a negative opinion of the Republican-led Congress in a poll by The New York Times and CBS News released on Wednesday.

Only 25 percent of respondents said they approved of the way Congress was handling its job, and 77 percent -- including 65 percent of the Republicans polled -- said they did not believe current members of Congress deserved re-election.

The Times said public approval of Congress was at its lowest level since 1994 when Republicans wrested control of both the House of Representatives and Senate from Democrats for the first time in four decades.

Few could name a major piece of legislation Congress had passed and two-thirds said lawmakers had accomplished less in the past two years than in other congressional sessions, the Times said.

An overwhelming majority, 73 percent, said members of Congress were more interested in serving special interest groups than in meeting the needs of their district. Only 20 percent said they put the public first. Sixty-nine percent said lawmakers did not understand the problems faced by the public.

But the newspaper said the poll results did not indicate a sure victory for Democrats on November 7, when the party tries to pick up the six Senate seats and 15 House seats that would give it majorities in each chamber.

While 61 percent said they did not approve of the work of Congress, only 29 percent disapproved of the job being down by their own representatives, while 39 percent said their representatives deserved re-election. Forty-eight percent said it was time to elect someone new.

The poll found 50 percent of voters intended to select a Democrat in November, while 35 percent said they would support a Republican. Still, 45 percent said Republicans had a clear plan for the country, compared with 38 percent who said Democrats offered such a clear view.

President George W. Bush had an approval rating of 37 percent in the poll conducted Friday to Wednesday, no change from a poll in August. Approval of the way he handles terrorism also remained unchanged at 54 percent, and approval of the way he has handled the war in Iraq rose to 36 percent from 30 percent, the poll showed.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released on Tuesday showed Bush's approval rating had bounced up to 44 percent from 39 percent.

Strategists in both parties have said the glum mood of the public has created a desire for change and given Democrats the edge in the autumn campaigns.

Asked whether the coming election was about the president, 46 percent said it was not, while 35 percent felt it was a vote against him and 16 percent saw it as a vote for him.

The poll showed greater trust in Democrats than Republicans to tell the truth about the war in Iraq, 44 percent to 23 percent, and about terrorism, 42 percent to 28 percent.

Regardless of how they planned to vote, 54 percent of those polled expected Democrats would win more seats in November and 32 percent thought Republicans would.

About 40 House seats and a dozen Senate seats are seen as important battlegrounds with all 435 House seats and 34 of 100 Senate seats at stake in the November election.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,131 adults, of whom 1,007 said they were registered voters, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Three-fourths of the respondents said they would "definitely vote" in the upcoming election.