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Fox News Poll: Voters give Congress a Christmas bonus

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Dec. 3, 2013: The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is lighted in Washington. (Reuters)

Voters are feeling generous this holiday season.  Sixteen percent approve of the job Congress is doing.  Does that still seem low?  Well, it’s a 60-percent increase since last month when just 10 percent approved.  

Even so, 79 percent give lawmakers a thumbs-down, according to the latest Fox News poll.

Congress ends the year almost exactly where it started it:  In January, 16 percent of voters approved of the job it was doing and 76 percent disapproved.  

Meanwhile, almost everyone agrees elected officials in Washington forget who they work for:  90 percent say elected officials act like they don’t have a boss.  Just seven percent think they behave like they are employees of the American public.  

Republicans continue to lag behind Democrats in congressional job ratings, yet the parties end the year evenly matched on the congressional ballot test.  

For Congressional Republicans:  22 percent of voters approve and 73 percent disapprove of their job performance.  

For Congressional Democrats:  31 percent approve and 63 percent disapprove.  

Why the gap in approval?  It isn’t independents -- they give roughly the same low approval to both Democrats (15 percent) and Republicans (14 percent).  

Instead, it all comes down to the party faithful.  Sixty-three percent of Democrats approve of the job Congressional Democrats are doing, while just 37 percent of Republicans approve of their party’s lawmakers in Congress.  

At the same time, the gap between the parties has disappeared on the vote question.  If next year’s Congressional election were “held today,” 43 percent of voters would support the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43 percent would back the Republican.  About one in seven -- 12 percent -- say they aren't sure for whom they'd cast their ballot.

These views have bounced around in recent months.  In November, the generic Republican candidate held a three percentage-point edge, while in October the Democratic candidate had an eight-point advantage.  

Poll Pourri

Despite the buzz on Capitol Hill, many voters are still out of the loop on the recent bi-partisan budget deal.  Fifteen percent support the deal, while 19 percent oppose it.  Most --65 percent -- say they don’t know enough about it to say.

Democrats are more than twice as likely to support the deal as oppose it (19 support - 9 oppose).  Republicans feel just the opposite.  They are more than twice as likely to oppose the agreement as support it (11 support - 29 oppose).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,027 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from December 14-16, 2013.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.