Do Americans Hate Gridlock? 27 Percent Want Congress to Pass More Laws, 45 Percent Want Fewer Laws

Just 16 percent of voters approve and 77 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to the September Reason-Rupe pollPolitical pundits who view Congressional action as virtue and gridlock as vice conclude these numbers vindicate their frustration. However, Americans who disapprove of Congress don’t necessarily want to see more action for action’s sake. Instead, 50 percent of them say they want Congress topass fewer laws than it’s currently doing, only 27 percent of them want Congress to pass more laws, while 16 percent are content with the status quo.

Ultimately, these numbers reveal a deeper schism in American politics: the debate over the proper role of government in society. This division is also playing out in the presidential election, with 72 percent of Romney voters wanting Congress to pass fewer laws, compared to 22 percent of Obama voters.

Expectations for Congressional action are correlated with Americans’ perceived fairness of the economic system. Among those who want Congress to pass fewer laws, 69 percent believe Americans have an equal opportunity to succeed. In contrast 59 percent of those who want more laws believe Americans do not have equal opportunities. This probably explains why 77 percent of those who want fewer laws believe income inequality is an acceptable part of the economic system, compared to 56 percent of those who want more laws and believe government needs to fix income inequality. Consequently, these divergent views predict whether someone believes government should redistribute wealth. Among those who want Congress to pass fewer laws, 87 percent say it is not the government’s role to redistribute. Fifty-six percent who think Congress should pass more laws also believe government has a responsibility to redistribute wealth.

In sum, Congressional discontent is not a license to plow through gridlock to pass more legislation. These data also suggest that raising Congress’ approval rating will not be easy because disapproval is rooted in the central debate of American history: what is the proper role of government in a free society. Consequently, “compromise” means different things to different people.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted September 13th-17th on both landline and cell phones, 1006 adults, margin of error +/- 3.8%. The sample also includes 787 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here. Full poll results found here.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Not happy with Congress? Stop sending your buffoon to Washington over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

  • MJGreen||

    But then the other guy will get in, and he'll allow all the immigrants up here to destroy contraception.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You're right, I left out some overs.

  • entropy||

    But it's not MY guy. It's everybody else's guys. My guy says so.

  • SIV||

    Well we did vote Cynthia McKinney out and Hank Johnson in. The GA 4th has a long history of bringing the...uh..entertainment to the US House

  • Tulpa Doom||

    But my buffoon is a nice guy who brings money into our local economy blah blah blah

  • Tulpa Doom||

    My district has had three different reps since 1991 without any of them losing a reelection bid. Which is kind of weird. I guess our Reps get sick of us or something. In Santorum's case maybe it's a good thing.

  • Robert||

    Repealers are laws too. They may not show up in the consolidated statutes, but they're acts of the legislature.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Which is a reason gridlock isn't always a good thing.

    The bars on the window are to Freddy's advantage once he's inside the house.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That "chart" or whatever it is makes absolutely no sense whatever to me.

  • General Butt Naked||

    It's like a paranoid schizophrenic projectile vomited a stomach full of white bean chili all over a Ouija board. Like, hey man, what in the hell are you trying to tell me?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It means that anyone who opposes open boarders is racist xenophobic scum who deserves to be penetrated with a hibernating toad.

  • Rich||

    Passing "more, less, or the same number of" laws makes absolutely no sense whatever to me.

    Given the habitual use of "riders" and the penchant to ram through 2000-page monstrosities, why not just pass one all-encompassing law a year and be done with it?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I would like congress to pass more laws repealing more laws.

    Since repealing a law takes another law, does a law repealing another law remain a "law on the books" even if it does nothing except repeal a law? Could this make laws in the registry the equivalent of "junk DNA"? For the sake of efficiency, some form of registry cleanup may be needed.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    The 18th amendment is useless, right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Well that's just dumb. The left thinks that more legislation is going to fix everything? Poppycock. Legislation gets watered down in the passing with input from every special interest. It's regulation that's going to save us. Regulation. Much more of that perfect, perfect regulation.

  • Killazontherun||

    I was walking along with my bag with a pair of sandwiches, just strolling down the street, about to leave the curb, the street light on the other side flashing red said, 'woah! You can't do that!' A city bus rolled right through. Damn, the light saved me, but how did it know about the bus? I think it was the logos of regulation. All wise, all knowing.

  • wef||

    the people are getting what they want:

    intrade as of 25/09/12 22:00 approximately -

    Barack Obama to be re-elected President in 2012: 73.0% CHANCE
    Last prediction was: $7.30 / share
    Today's Change: +$0.05 (+0.7%)

  • Generic Stranger||

    I think I've said this before, but this doesn't mean much. More than likely, it just means that people who use Intrade are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican.

  • General Butt Naked||

    If the stats are reliable, i.e. intrade users are representatives of the greater population, it would still mean that people who use intrade are more likely to vote democrat than republican.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Depends on whether they're voting to help their Intrade investment.

    Of course, there may be "investors" who are planning on selling their BO shares and just think that there will be plenty of suckers buying them as the weeks go on.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Short the 'Bamster?! What kind of thought criminal would engage in such blasphemous chicanery?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I would laugh/cry my ass off if it turned out BO was manipulating the Intrade election markets with the plunge protection team. I wouldn't put it past him, tbh.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    And every stock on NYSE is correctly valued!

  • Morty||

    I bet all of you would be happy if they would pass a law against this

  • Morty||

    or even this one

  • Brian from Texas||

    Someone needs to introduce a bill in Congress that if passed would repeal every Federal law enacted after 1800 so we can start with a clean slate and hopefully not make the same mistakes we've made for the past 100+ years.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Ever heard of the Sunset Amendment? It would cause any act of Congress to become null and void five years after passage or five years after the amendment was ratified, whichever is later. That would be a big help. Of course there are always ways to make an end run around these things.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Thank you, I have been trying to think of the name of that goddamn thing all night. Fits perfectly to this thread.

    Sunset amendment.

  • Morty||

    Rmoney doesn't know how airplanes work

  • widget||

    How do airplanes work? I'm not exactly a Gary Johnson fan, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that he's the only candidate who would possibly know that the curvature on the top side the wings causes the air to separate, resulting in a lower pressure on top than on the flat bottom. Go though the air fast enough and you get lift.

  • RickC||

    "Do Americans Hate Gridlock? " Sometimes the thought of the federal government becoming permanently gridlocked is the only thing that gives me hope.

  • Coeus||

    Scott Brown staffer mocks Warren with "racist" chant.

    The racist chant is apparently intended to mock Elizabeth Warren for her Native American roots.

    I want to believe!!!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    You know what makes a mockery of Native Americans? Falsely claiming Native American roots to get brownie points for diversity.

  • General Butt Naked||


    Warren is so evil, that I am tempted to say that I'd vote for Brown if I could.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Does MA have voter ID laws?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Speaking of, I was reading the PAFOA* forum earlier and someone made the good point that none of the people angry about the voter ID laws don't raise a stink about all of the ID(s) you need to exercise your second amendment rights. Not that I agree voter ID laws, but it's something to think about.

    *pennsylvania firearm owners association

  • widget||

    You get carded, these days, going into a bank to make even a small cash deposit to your own account. The same bank teller's facial recognition software is inadequate even when you do this every week, at the same time, on the same day. But there's an exemption for voting.

    but it's something to think about.


  • Tulpa Doom||

    I was talking to a flaming leftist here at the uni yesterday about the ID law, and he said that the right to vote is "our most sacred right". I said I thought the BoR rights were far more important and was like, "if our most sacred right is essentially meaningless if done individually, we're in pretty sorry shape."

    This got him pissed enough at me that I didn't go further and say I would rather live in a libertarian dictatorship than a statist democracy.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    When did Tom Selleck become Nigel Mansell?

  • nfljerseys||

  • nfljerseys||

    In April, Ecclestone first questioned whether the New York track would be ready for the race, which
    Cheap Pat Angerer jersey is due to take place in June 2013.

  • np||

    Since Congress virtually never repeals laws--the few have mostly come from the Supreme Court--gridlock is still preferable.

    The president can add to the healthy gridlock by veto power (the one power intended from the beginning to be made good use of!) and can effectively repeal laws by executive orders--either outright, the converse of the same way it has been severely abused, or denying execution or denying enforcement of federal laws, or automatic pardons


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