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Polls Reveal Season Of Record-Breaking Voter Anger

NPR icon by Alan Yu
A A
J. Scott Applewhite

The American public is clearly ticked off. Between the government shutdown, the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and the pace of the economic recovery, poll after poll reports signs of deep frustration and unrest.

Anger toward politicians and government isn't exactly a new phenomenon. What is unusual, however, is the sheer number of polling records that have been set in recent weeks – both lows and highs.

Here's a sampling:

Congressional Approval Rating

For the first time since Gallup began asking the question 39 years ago, the approval rating for Congress is in the single digits. The firm's latest poll shows only 9 percent of Americans approve of how Congress is doing its job.

Presidential Approval Rating

President Obama is registering the lowest approval rating of his presidency. Just 39 percent of voters approve of the job the President is doing, according to the most recent Quinnipiac University poll.

Party Favorability

Midway through the October government shutdown, public sentiment toward the Republican Party sank to a record low: Just 28 percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of the GOP, the lowest measured for either party since Gallup began asking the question in 1992. And 62 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, a record-high. The silver lining for the GOP? Forty-nine percent of Americans viewed the Democratic Party unfavorably.

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment

People don't even like their own representatives anymore. Voters typically want to throw the bums out of Congress, except for their own representative, of course. Now, even that distinction is gone, according to Pew Research. A record-low of 48 percent of registered voters want their representative in Congress to win re-election in 2014 – and 38 percent say they want their representative in Congress defeated, the highest percentage in more than two decades.

Top Problem Facing The Country

"Dissatisfaction with government" now ranks as the most important problem facing the country, ahead of healthcare, unemployment, the economy and the federal budget deficit. According to Gallup, dissatisfaction with government has been cited as the top problem for the past two months – something that has never happened before, and the polling firm has been asking this question since the 1930s.

Public Trust In Government

Okay, so this one isn't at rock bottom. But it's just a tick above its historic low. Only 19 percent of people trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time. It's been this bad only one other time in history, according to Pew Research Center – after the House Banking Scandal of 1992, when trust in government hit a low of 17 percent.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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