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American voters are fed up with the Republican-controlled Congress, saying it is corrupt, controlled by special interests and unresponsive to the people.
That’s the finding of the latest New York Times/CBS poll.
As Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder report in The New York Times:
With the midterm elections less than seven weeks away, Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with substantial majorities saying that they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve reelection, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The disregard for Congress is the most intense it has been since 1994, when Republicans captured 52 seats to end four decades of Democratic control of the House and retook the Senate as well. It underlines the challenge the Republican Party faces in trying to hold onto power in the face of a surge in anti-incumbent sentiment.
By overwhelming margins, respondents said that members of Congress were too tied to special interests and that they did not understand the needs and problems of average Americans. Two-thirds said Congress had accomplished less than it typically does in a two-year session; most said they said they could not name a single major piece of legislation that cleared this Congress. Just 25 percent said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job.
The Times/CBS News poll also found that President Bush did not improve his own or his party’s standing through the intense campaign of speeches he made and events he attended surrounding the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The speeches were at the heart of a Republican strategy to thrust national security to the forefront in the fall elections.
Mr. Bush’s job approval rating was 37 percent, virtually unchanged from the last Times/CBS News poll, which was conducted in August. On the issue that has been a bulwark for Mr. Bush, 54 percent said they approve of the way he is managing the effort to combat terrorists, again unchanged from last month, though up from earlier this spring.
Republicans continue to hold a slight edge over Democrats on which party is better at dealing with terrorism, though that edge did not grow since last month despite Mr. Bush’s flurry of speeches on national security, including one from the Oval Office on the night of the Sept. 11 anniversary.
But the Times/CBS News poll found a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who say they approve of the way Mr. Bush has handled the war in Iraq, to 36 percent from 30 percent. It also suggests that after bottoming out this spring, Mr. Bush’s approval ratings on the economy and foreign policy have returned to their levels of about a year ago, both at 37 percent. The number of people who called terrorism the most important issue facing the country doubled to 14 percent in this poll from 7 percent in July; 22 percent named the war in Iraq as their top concern, little changed from July.
Across the board, the poll found marked disenchantment with Congress, highlighting the opportunity that Democrats see to make the argument for a change in leadership and to make the election a national referendum on the performance of the Republican-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush’s tenure. In one striking finding, 77 percent of respondents — including 65 percent of Republicans — said that most members of Congress had not done a good enough job to deserve re-election and that it was time to give new people a chance. That is the highest number of voters who said it was “time for new people” since the fall of 1994.
Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections.