The national survey company Public Policy Polling recently released a poll that was a set-up for snark, but it does say a little bit about how Americans are thinking. The firm noted the historically but not surprisingly low popularity rating for Congress — PPP found 9 percent approve of Congress, 81 percent disapprove and 10 percent aren’t sure — and compared that number with entities that Americans universally hold in low regard.
The good news: Congress is more popular than Fidel Castro, communism, North Korea, ebola, gonorrhea, playground bullies, John Edwards (who used to be in Congress) or the Kardashians (so far not in Congress but they live in California, so who knows?).
The bad news: Congress emerges less popular than root canals, colonoscopies, traffic jams, National Football League replacement referees, Donald Trump, cockroaches and head lice. But before we render judgment on Congress’ approval and with whom it suffers in comparison, let us consider the mitigating circumstances.
Root canals and colonoscopies are medically valuable procedures. Traffic jams indicate economic vibrancy — though perhaps with ill regard for urban planning. The replacement refs’ poll may find variance between respondents in Washington state (Seattle Seahawks fans) and Wisconsin (Green Bay Packers followers) if one recalls a certain matchup from September. Donald Trump holds a higher popularity rating than does Congress, but ironically he probably couldn’t get elected. Cockroaches, we’re told, would survive a nuclear holocaust.
At this point, we’ll note that PPP’s poll of 830 nationwide voters carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points; with a 72 percentage-point margin between approval and disapproval, we seem to have a consensus. And with most congressional incumbents having won re-election last fall, we also seem to have consensus that voters hold the other congressional representatives in low regard but not their own. The poll doesn’t touch on that.
Oh, and one more thing: Is Congress really less popular than head lice? We must confess: That one leaves us scratching our heads.
• Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.