Congress not fazed by public's disapproval [View all]
Four months ago, the United States Congress had a gloomy approval rating of just 12 percent. And that was before most Americans had ever heard of a "fiscal cliff."
The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll to measure congressional approval (August), showed that a whopping 82 percent of Americans disapproved of the job Congress was doing, an all-time record for the history of the survey.
By some estimates, Congress' approval rating could now -- after an ugly fiscal cliff fight and the brewing storm over aid to Hurricane Sandy victims -- be nearly within the margin of, well, zilch.
Experts say that because the ratings have been so poor for so long, members are no longer fazed by the public's overall disapproval. They note that the lambasting of Congress as a whole has minimal effects on individual races, especially when candidates run against the status quo of the very body they're trying to join.
Some 90 percent of lawmakers who ran for re-election in 2012 will be coming right back to Capitol Hill for the 113th Congress.
"Nobody ever votes on Congress as a whole, they vote on individual members," says Jack Pitney, professor at Claremont McKenna College in California. "The message that most lawmakers give their constituents is 'I'm great, it's these other bozos who are the problem.'"