Republicans in Congress who think they'll do well by running away from George W. Bush this year are getting a sobering reminder from Gallup today: You're none too popular yourself.
In a new poll out today, Gallup says 70 percent of the public disapproves of the way Congress is doing its job. Only 23 percent approve -- the lowest approval rating since the waning days of the Democratic majority in 1994.
Gallup notes that Congress' approval ratings have slid right along with the president's over the past five years. One point of divergence: Although Bush's approval ratings have remained stable in the 36-37 percent range over the past few months, Congress' approval ratings have continued to fall.
The question for November: Will Americans focus their disapproval on the Republicans who currently control both houses of Congress, or will they take a pox-on-both-your-parties approach? The Republicans are hoping it's neither. As the Washington Post reports today, GOP leaders are insisting that the 2006 elections will turn on local concerns -- and on constituents' traditional fondness for their own elected officials -- rather than on any nationwide dismay over the way in which things are headed. National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Carl Forti acknowledges that voters "may be upset nationally," but he says that doesn't mean that they won't "go vote for their congressman."
Of course, not all members of Congress are equally worthy of local love or national ire. Time is up with its highly subjective list of the 10 best and five worst senators, carefully calibrated in a 60-40 Republican-Democrat split to approximate the partisan divide in the Senate.
Time's best: Republicans Thad Cochran, John Kyl, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter and Democrats Kent Conrad, Dick Durbin, Carl Levin and Ted Kennedy.
Time's worst: Republicans Wayne Allard ("so bland that his colleagues have dubbed him 'Dullard'"), Jim Bunning ("shows little interest in policy unless it involves baseball") and Conrad Burns (a "serially offensive" senator with a serious Jack Abramoff problem), and Democrats Daniel Akaka ("living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise") and Mark Dayton ("erratic" Senate behavior will come to an end because he isn't seeking reelection).