Fox News Poll: 78 Percent Favor Term Limits On Congress

Finally, an issue both Democrats and Republicans agree on: term limits. Nearly 8 in 10 American voters like the idea of imposing fixed time limits in office for all members of Congress -- including their own senators and representatives.

A Fox News poll released Friday found that 78 percent of voters favor establishing term limits for Congress. That’s nearly five times as many as oppose limiting the number of terms members can serve (16 percent).

Large majorities of Republicans (84 percent), Democrats (74 percent) and independents (74 percent) favor the idea.

The poll also shows 70 percent of voters disapprove of the job Congress is currently doing. That includes most Republicans (84 percent) as well as more than half of Democrats (54 percent), despite the fact that their party controls both houses of Congress. About one voter in five gives Congress a thumbs up (22 percent approve).

Moreover, 68 percent of voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country today. That’s up a bit from 65 percent dissatisfied in June, and up significantly from 53 percent in April 2009. Still, it’s an improvement from the 79 percent who said they were unhappy with the way things were going the week before President Obama took office (January 13-14, 2009).

The number of displeased voters is more than double the 32 percent who say they are satisfied with how things are going today. And while that’s down from a high of 46 percent satisfied in April 2009 (after Obama had been in office about 100 days), it’s up from 20 percent satisfied in January 2009.

The Fox News Poll involved telephone interviews with 900 randomly chosen registered voters and was conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. from September 1 - September 2. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the total sample.

Click here for full poll results (PDF).

As has been the case all year, the new poll found Republicans are more interested than Democrats in the upcoming elections. Forty percent of Republicans say they are “extremely” interested -- double the number of Democrats who feel the same way (19 percent).

An even larger number of voters -- 51 percent -- who identify with the Tea Party Movement are “extremely” interested.

That trend clearly favors the Republicans. With Election Day just two months away, by a 46-37 percent margin, more voters say they would back the Republican candidate in their district than the Democratic candidate if the election were held today. In mid-August, Republicans had a 7 percentage-point advantage on this generic ballot question (44-37 percent).

At the same time, by an 11-point spread, more voters think President Obama has “truly made an effort” to work with Republicans in Washington (52-41 percent). Has that been reciprocated? Voters say no. By a 25-point margin, voters think Republicans have not made an effort to work with Obama (33 percent yes, 58 percent no).

Yet in many cases that may not be a criticism. A slim majority of Republican voters (52 percent) would rather see their party’s leaders stand their ground and fight hard to put in place the ideas they believe in rather than compromise (39 percent). Among Democrats, the results are just the opposite: a majority (60 percent) wants their leaders to compromise, while 33 percent want them to fight.

Favorable Ratings

Some 47 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, up from 40 percent in April. That’s a bit higher than the 42 percent favorable the Democratic Party receives, unchanged from earlier this year.

Likewise, 43 percent have a negative opinion of the Republican Party, and 49 percent have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party.

The Tea Party Movement has a 39 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable rating. Another 26 percent say they are unable to rate it.

Voters have even stronger feelings about some members of Congress. By a more than two-to-one margin, for example, they have a negative opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: 56 percent unfavorable and 24 percent favorable.

President Obama fares better. Slightly more voters have a favorable (50 percent) than an unfavorable view (46 percent) of him. While that’s little changed from earlier this summer (52-44 percent, June 29-30), that’s a significant 26-point drop from his high of 76 percent favorable in January 2009.

Still, Obama compares well to his predecessor: 46 percent of voters have a favorable opinion today of former President George W. Bush, and 50 percent unfavorable.

First Lady Michelle Obama is even more popular than her husband. She has a 60 percent favorable rating, and while that’s 10 points higher than the president’s, it’s down from a high of 73 percent favorable in April 2009. Her unfavorable rating is currently 26 percent, up from a low of 15 percent in January 2009.