Voters' views of Pelosi, Congress have dimmed
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's own party is turning on her, apparently because of a perception among California Democrats that she has not done enough to shake up the status quo in Washington, D.C., according to a Field Poll released Friday.
Congress overall is doing even worse with California voters, with an approval rating sagging to 30 percent or below for only the seventh time in the past 15 years, the poll of 1,201 registered voters found. Both Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who became speaker this year, and Congress as a whole have fallen short of voter expectations since taking over both houses, poll director Mark DiCamillo said.
"I think the reason for her decline and the low ratings Congress is getting is that voters here are not seeing any change," DiCamillo said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's approval rating of 51 percent is down 10 percentage points since March, but consistent with her average over the years. Sen. Barbara Boxer's rating also has slumped, from 54 percent in March to 44 percent. Both Boxer and Feinstein, however, still enjoy the approval of more voters than disapproval of them.
For Pelosi, it was the first time the poll showed more people disapproving than approving of her performance â€“ 40 percent to 35 percent, with 25 percent having no opinion.
Other polls since 2003 have shown larger numbers of voters with no opinion, but Pelosi always won more approval than disapproval. As recently as March, California Democrats approved of Pelosi by a 5-to-1 ratio, DiCamillo said. Now it's less than 2-to-1. Nonpartisan voters also have soured on her.
Only 22 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing, the poll found, while 64 percent disapprove.
The six other times that congressional approval has dipped to 30 percent or below can be tied to specific events, such as the impeachment of President Clinton or the economic downturn of the early 1990s that hit California particularly hard, DiCamillo said.
During tough times, he said, voters saw Congress as a convenient target. "They were taking it out on anybody and everybody," he said.
Still, the Democrats now in charge of Congress fared better than Republicans, with a 34 percent approval rating compared to 20 percent for the GOP. California Republicans are more critical of their own party, the poll found, with only 29 percent approving of the performance of congressional Republicans.
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