9 January 2013, 15:32

US Congress – between lice and North Korea

US Congress – between lice and North Korea

North Carolina based Public Policy Polling (PPP) has published shocking results of its survey concerning the popularity of the US Congress. As PPP president Dean Debnam pointed out, "We all know Congress is unpopular." And the former 112th Congress was described as "one of the least productive in more than 60 years," cnbc.com reported quoting Associated Press. But the big question is how unpopular Congress is.

The first question formulated by the pollsters was, "Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Congress?" Out of 830 respondents only 9 percent had a favorable opinion compared to the catastrophic 85 percent having an unfavorable one. It should also be noted that although PPP is known as Democratic-leaning, the respondents represented all strata of the US society in terms of age, gender, race, party affiliation and political views.

But the most interesting part of the poll was not the sheer direct answer to a direct question, but the next 26 questions where Congress was coupled with all kinds of (presumably repulsive) phenomena of the modern society – from Canadian rock band Nickelback to brussel sprouts. In these 26 duels the US Congress lost with a total score of 12 to 14.

It is peculiar to mention that when it comes to political and social phenomena or public figures, the Congress's overall standing looks much more favorable than when it is compared to everyday things.

For example, the Congress won the duels with telemarketers (45 to 35), former Democratic Senator and vice-presidential nominee John Edwards (45 to 29), fashion designers the Kardashians (49 to 36), lobbyists (48 to 30), North Korea (61 to 26, the highest ranking the Congress got in the poll), Cuban leader Fidel Castro (54 to 32), communism (57 to 23).

It has also much more favorable ratings over diseases, such as gonorrhea (53 to 28) and ebola (53 to 25), but loses to such painful medical practices as root canal (32 to 56) and colonoscopies, (endoscopic examination of the large bowel and the distal part of the small bowel with a CCD camera or a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus; 31 to 58).

It also lost (albeit with a narrow margin) the duels with the above mentioned Nickelback (32 to 39), Washington D.C. political pundits (34 to 37), billionaire Donald Trump (42 t0 44), France (37 to 46), Genghis Khan (37 to 41).

Even such despicable phenomena as traffic jams and used car salesmen receive much more favorable ratings than the US Congress (56 to 34 and 57 to 32 respectively).

The most striking results are represented by the comparison of the US Congress to two species of most phobia-inducing insects, cockroaches and lice. While the former won the duel with a narrow margin of 45 to 43, lice, together with brussel sprouts represent the two biggest winners: lice to Congress – 67 to 16, brussel sprouts – 69 to 23.

The PPP website explains the latter results in such way, "It's gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can't," and, "Brussel sprouts may have been disgusting when you were a kid, but evidently they're now a lot less disgusting than Congress."

Other explanations are similarly simple: "Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren't seeing in Congress," "You might get a bad deal from a used car salesmen, but voters evidently think they're getting an even worse deal from Congress," "Being stuck in traffic sucks, but voters are even less happy about being stuck with this Congress," "It may be true that everyone hates Nickelback, but apparently everyone hates Congress even more," "Genghis Khan did a lot of bad stuff but I guess it's faded from voters' minds in a way that Congress's recent misdeeds haven't," "Cockroaches are a pretty good reason to call the exterminator but voters might be even more concerned if their homes were infested with members of Congress," etc.

Still, the US Congress members may find consolation in the fact that they fare better than gonorrhea or ebola.

But, as the story on PPP website concludes, "When you're less popular than cockroaches, Genghis Khan, traffic jams, and yes even Nickelback, well, it might be time to reevaluate."

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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