Pelosi et al: Dog days of August, or just dog days, period?

As Congress splits town for the August recess, Members return to their districts where Americans are giving them a pretty poor report card. Our late July NBC/WSJ poll* shows the country is pretty unimpressed with Nancy Pelosi and the Congress as a whole.

Just one-quarter (24%) approves of the job Congress is doing, and disapproval (63%) is as high as we’ve seen since President Obama’s inauguration. However, what’s even more disconcerting for this Democrat-controlled Congress is the fact that for the first time since January (before Obama took office) self-identified Democrats also offer a net negative rating (37% approve, 46% disapprove).

Speaker Pelosi doesn’t fair much better. One-in-four (25%) Americans say they have a positive impression of her, while 44% say they have a negative impression (16% are neutral). This is a significant drop in her personal rating from 31% positive, 37% negative back in February.

Her image is especially weak among Independents (16% positive, 52% negative) and she barely has a net positive image among Blue Dog Democrats (defined in this poll as White moderate and conservative Democrats), 32% of whom have a positive impression of her compared to 28% who have a negative impression. And, as far as the gender gap goes – it doesn’t get much more dramatic than this. By 33 points men give her a net negative rating (20% positive, 53% negative), while women tend to have a more balanced view (29% positive, 36% negative).

Underscoring some of these results, the gap on the generic Congressional ballot is as narrow as we’ve measured since April 2006 with 39% saying they would prefer a Republican-controlled Congress versus 46% who would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress.

Although Republicans still have work to do they have made some significant progress with the Base. White men are now posting a double-digit preference for Republican control (+13), and White women – who by 8 points preferred Democrat control in April – are now tied (42% Republican control, 42% Democrat control).

While it’s still early in the 2010 cycle, these are some fairly troublesome numbers for Democrat Members of Congress to deal with – especially when you consider the long rocky road that lies ahead as they struggle with a pet hair vacuum guide restless electorate on the hot-button issues of health care, the economy, and the federal deficit.

*National survey of 1,011 adults conducted July 24-27, 2009
(Public Opinion Strategies partners with Peter D. Hart Research Associates to conduct the NBC/WSJ polls. Neither Peter D. Hart Research Associates nor NBC/WSJ are responsible for these conclusions.)



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