Poll: Views of Congress turn sharply negative

BOSTON—As the last day of the debt ceiling debate plays out in Washington, 63 percent of Massachusetts residents now view Congress unfavorably, a 22 point rise in unfavorables since January.  The MassINC Polling Group’s MassPulse Quarterly Poll also shows that residents are considerably more pessimistic about economic conditions than they were even as recently as April, with The MPG Index of Consumer Sentiment falling  to 59.4 from the previous level of 68.0.  

The poll, which was conducted July 27-30, during the final days of the debate over raising the debt ceiling, shows just 27% now hold a favorable view of congress, while 63% view congress unfavorably.  This is a sharp decline from January, when the ratio was slightly positive, with 46% favorable and 41% unfavorable toward Congress.  Residents’ views of President Obama have moved only slightly since September of 2010, with 57% viewing him favorable, and 41% unfavorably. Views of Scott Brown showed little movement this quarter, with 48% now viewing him favorably and 30% unfavorably.

“It appears as though President Obama has gotten the better of the back and forth over the debt ceiling here in Massachusetts” said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group.   “His numbers have barely moved while residents have really turned negative on Congress.”

The souring economic outlook was led by declining expectations for future conditions, especially for business.  Just 25% of residents now expect good business conditions in the year ahead, while 64% say conditions will be bad.  The percentage who said conditions will be bad has steadily risen, from 43% in January, and 53% in April of this year.  About six in ten (62%) say they expect the next five years to bring widespread unemployment or depression, a 7 point rise from April’s figures. These increasingly pessimistic views are not restricted to the short term.  About half (48%) of residents expect the next generation to do worse than the current generation, up from 38% in April’s poll.  Just 17% say the next generation will be better off.

“The pessimism regarding the economy is substantial, even by recent standards,” said Koczela.  “When almost half of residents see the next generation as worse off, we have moved beyond the collective sense that these difficulties are temporary.”




About the poll: The MassPulse Quarterly Poll is conducted quarterly among representative samples of 500 Massachusetts residents age 18 and older.  The poll is conducted in English and Spanish among both cell phone and landline households.  This iteration of the survey was conducted from July 27-30, 2011.  The margin of sampling error is 4.4%.

About the MassINC Polling Group: The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) is an independent, non-partisan organization providing public opinion research and analysis to public, private, and social sector clients. MPG is a full service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products, and high-level communication and outreach planning.  For more information visit www.massincpolling.com.


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