In August 2018, the overall approval rating of the US Congress among Americans was 17%. This was a 1% increase from last year’s Gallup data. In August 2017, 16% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.
In this year’s data, 28% of Republicans, 7% of Democrats, and 17% of Independents viewed Congress favorably. In August 2017, the approval ratings by political affiliation were 16%, 12%, and 16%, respectively.
Note that these numbers were taken from the link provided, which concerned Gallup poll data from August 2018. Since then, Gallup has released their September data. In September 2018, the overall approval rating of the US Congress among Americans was 19%, a 3% increase from September 2017. The approval ratings by party affiliation varied slightly between August and September 2018 as well. In September 2018, 31% of Republicans, 8% of Democrats, and 17% of Independents approved of Congress.
In June 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset the 10-term incumbent, Rep. Joseph Crowley, in the New York primary election for the 14th Congressional District. Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform farther to the left than her opponent, a fellow Democrat. Ocasio-Cortez was thought to be the underdog, a “political neophyte and self-proclaimed socialist”, according to the Washington Post article. She has never held office; her political experience was as a community activist and Bernie Sanders presidential campaign staff member. Recruited by Brand New Congress, a political action committee whose goal is to elect “ordinary people” with anti-establishment views, Ocasio-Cortez promotes many of the same social and political goals of other progressive candidates: universal health care, help for working-class families, free college tuition, criminal justice reform, and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As a Latina, she emphasizes her commonalities with the 70% of people in her district who identify as minorities. She is supported by the Democratic Socialists of America and the Black Lives Caucus. She does not accept corporate donations.
Representative Crowley ran as a more traditional Democratic candidate. He is the chair of the Queens County Democratic Party and received support and endorsements from corporations and labor unions. His incumbency and years of fundraising led to name recognition and a considerable war chest: according to Federal Election Commission data, Crowley’s campaign contributions totaled nearly four million dollars between 2017 and 2018. He eventually embraced the political and social agenda of the progressives but was seen as insincere (Crowley voted for the Protect and Serve Act, a congressional bill making the assault of police officer a federal crime). His loss to Ocasio-Cortez has been considered a harbinger of Tea Party-like division in the Democratic Party.
In June 2014, a similar upset occurred in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th District. Rep. Eric Cantor, the moderate incumbent House Majority Leader, was defeated by Dave Brat, a Tea Party candidate. Like Crowley, Cantor had been an establishment figure. Brat, like Ocasio-Cortez, was a firebrand newcomer backed by an organization committed to radical change. A similar line of criticism applies to the Tea Party and progressive movements, both then and now. Fringe groups are demanding change and renouncing tradition. In many ways, this is a good thing—sometimes the establishment must be challenged. But it can and has gone wrong. The Republican Party, now infused with insurgent members of the Tea Party, is often unable to pass legislation despite their congressional majority. Rather than compromise, the anti-establishment members frequently refuse to negotiate if they cannot get their way. The November 2018 midterm election will introduce members of the ultra-progressive fringe into the Democratic Party establishment. How they interact will surely be informed by the lessons of the 2014 and 2016 elections.