Poll: D.C. elites rate Congress higher

Aug 15th, 2010 | By politicsnews | Category: Politics

Elites in Washington have a much higher opinion of Congress and are less likely to have their votes swayed by recent ethics scandals than the rest of the nation, according to a new POLITICO poll released Monday.

While those involved in the political and policy-making process in the nation’s capital didn’t give Congress a rave review, the 24 percent who gave the body either an “A” or “B” is more than twice the percentage of all Americans who were asked the same question.

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Get the full POLITICO Poll results

Asked to grade the “overall efforts” of the current Congress, only 11 percent of all Americans who were asked the question gave the institution an “A” or “B.” Thirty-two percent gave Congress a “C” while 23 graded out its performance as a “D.” Twenty-seven percent gave Congress an “F.”

Like other Americans, 33 percent of D.C. elites gave Congress a “C” and 23 percent gave it a “D.” But only 20 percent of Washington gave Congress a failing grade, 7 percentage points less than the rest of the country.

“When it comes to Congress, the voters are tough graders — almost no Americans give this Congress an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ despite the passage of landmark legislation,” said Mark Penn, CEO of the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the online survey for POLITICO.

“The voters question whether the bills that Congress did pass are helping to solve the big problems they are facing in their daily lives,” said Penn, the former pollster for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Democratic campaign for president.

The survey is the second in a six-month Power and the People series conducted for POLITICO. It is based on two polls, one of the general public and the second of Washington elites. For the first group, 1,688 were surveyed online nationwide between August 6-11th; for the second, 225. The general population poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent points. The Washington elites poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.53 percentage points.

A member of the Washington elites was defined as someone who lives within the D.C. metro area, earns more than $75,000 per year, has at least a college degree and is involved in the political process or work in politics or policy.

There was one area of broad agreement between the elites and the general public – both groups want Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform. A total of 59 percent of the general population want Congress to pass immigration law guidelines now, as do 76 percent of DC elites. Among the public, 61 percent of both Democrats and independents agree on the need for an immigration reform law, as do 59 percent of Republicans.

For the elites, the recent ethics scandals that have plagued Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.), are subjects of intense interest.

Fifty-six percent of Washington is “closely” following Rangel’s ethics problems compared to 43 percent who are not. Among the general populous however, only 30 percent are “closely” following the story while 61 percent are not.

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