Poll: Americans Angry with D.C. Politics


Most Americans are dissatisfied or angry about the way things are going in Washington these days. Eight in 10 say Congress is more interested in serving the needs of special interest groups rather than the people they represent.

But only a third of people feel the same way about President Obama. Nearly 60 percent think he is more interested in serving the American people. CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes has more.

CBS News and the New York Times polled 1,000 Americans - blue collar and business owners, from Idaho to New York - and found deep pessimism about the economy and Washington's attempts to fix it.

Just 15 percent of those polled approve of the job Congress is doing. That's close to an all time low.

Only 29 percent think the GOP is trying to work with the president, while 62 percent think Mr. Obama is reaching across the aisle.

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"If Democrats and Republicans aren't going to find the middle of the road then maybe we need a third party," said New Yorker Leni Wolfenson.

His frustration helps explain why nearly 20 percent of those surveyed now consider themselves members of the Tea Party movement.

Who are they?

According to the poll:

-95 percent are white

-They are as likely as Americans overall to have college educations and make over $50,000 a year.

-And, like Kuna, Idaho Coffee shop owner Jared Hatch, they are more likely to identify themselves as Republicans than Independents or Democrats

"The tea party movement is, it's something the country actually needs," Hatch said. "Iit's showing that people out there are voicing what they want."

But for more than half the country, the Tea Party phenomenon remains a relative mystery. Peole interviewed by CBS News said they either didn't know what it was or that they only had a vague association with Sarah Palin or angry protesters.

Still, the Tea Party mentality is spreading. Fifty-six percent of everyone polled said they'd prefer a smaller government, providing fewer services. That's the highest percentage in more than a decade.

And a majority of Americans believe the U.S. cannot afford to fix health care right now - up from 42 percent in September.

"I don't feel like it's the government's responsibility to bail out certain segments of the population," said Boise, Idaho resident Stephen Gamboa.

Only a tenth of Americans blame the president for the poor economy, but they also don't have much faith that he can fix it. Just 47 percent think the economy will be any better by the time his term is up.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' chief White House correspondent.