Members of Congress are increasingly losing the trust of many Americans, as a majority view representatives as out of touch, focused on the needs of special interests, and corrupt.
Gallup’s annual governance poll, conducted from Sept. 9 to 13, found that 79 percent of Americans think members of Congress are "out of touch with average Americans" while 69 percent believe that members are "focused on the needs of special interests" rather than the needs of their constituents. The poll additionally concluded that 52 percent of Americans view members of Congress as corrupt.
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Earlier this year a similar trend was discovered in another poll, showing fewer than one in ten Americans—8 percent—have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.
Traditionally, Gallup notes, that Americans are less skeptical of their own members than they are of Congress as a whole. However, the amount of people who view their own members as out of touch has risen seven percentage points since 2006 to 48 percent in 2015–the highest figure on record.
Majorities of Americans view most members of Congress as corrupt, beholden to special interests and out of touch. This is not new and perhaps not even surprising, given the low esteem in which Americans hold the institution. But this cynicism is beginning to influence Americans' views of their own federal representatives, not just the national legislature. Record or near-record numbers of U.S. adults say their local representative is out of touch and focused on serving special interests rather than their constituents.
Congress is under greater-than-usual stress, with the House speaker's abrupt resignation and a possible government shutdown. Numerous members of Congress have cast this battle as a principled one, even if it results in disruptive outcomes such as a shutdown, or, as is apparently the case, the abrupt resignation of the top lawmaker in the House. But given the large proportion of Americans who believe members of Congress have far less altruistic motives, it is doubtful many Americans will see the showdown as a dispute over how best to serve the nation's interests.