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It's the people vs. the government, new poll suggests

  • Story Highlights
  • At midyear, only 25 percent approve of Democratically controlled Congress
  • But a majority think it's better that the Democrats are in control
  • Only 36 percent approve of the Republican Party
  • Immigration bill failed, in part, because public doesn't trust Washington
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- How do people think the Democratic Congress is doing after six months? Lousy. But better than the alternative.

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In a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, only 25 percent of those polled approved of the job Congress is doing.

It's midyear, and the Democratic Congress is taking a break. Well-deserved? No, say Republicans.

"We are now halfway through the first year of the 110th Congress," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said. "And there is no question that the failure on the part of the Democrats in terms of their midterm exam is really a letdown to the expectations of the American people.''

Democratic leaders are inclined to agree. "I'm not happy with Congress, either," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said.

And the American people? Look at the grades. President Bush is doing terribly -- an average of 30 percent job approval in six recent polls. Congress is doing worse -- 25 percent on the average in five polls.

Why the low marks? Democrats point to one issue where not much seems to be getting done. "The war in Iraq is dragging down people's confidence in what's going on in this country," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Republicans point to another issue. "One of the reasons that confidence is at an all-time low is because of the immigration bill," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, said.

So, are voters ready to change horses again and go back to a Republican Congress? Nope.

A solid majority says it's good for the country that the Democratic Party is in control of Congress. Even though they're doing a lousy job? Yes.

People think, OK, the Democrats aren't so great. But the Republicans are worse.

Just a bare majority of Americans now holds a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party (51 percent). But only 36 percent like the Republicans. That's the Republican Party's second-lowest rating in 15 years. Only in December 1998, when the Republican Congress voted to impeach President Clinton, were Republicans held in lower regard.

So Democrats blame Republicans. "The fact is that the Republicans aren't allowing us to proceed,'' Reid said. And Republicans blame Democrats.

A Web video just released by the National Republican Congressional Committee highlights what it calls "the Democrat majority's broken promises, abysmal record and rock-bottom approval rating."

But Americans are not convinced that changing parties will make much difference. The new dynamic in American politics right now isn't Democrat versus Republican.

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"It is a sad commentary in America today that many Americans have lost faith in their government," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, said. He added, "Americans don't believe that their government is representing them, is acting on their behalf. The polls show it."

The new dynamic is the people versus the government. The immigration bill is a perfect illustration. It was a bipartisan bill, supported by President Bush and by most Democrats in Congress. Why didn't it pass? Because the people didn't like it. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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