Specifically, 20% of respondents in this poll said Congress had accomplished more this year than in recent Congresses, 36% said less had been done, while 37% saw it as about average. Among Democrats, the results were better, but not much -- 33% said this Congress scored well on accomplishments, 23% said less was done, and 37% said this Congress accomplished about the same amount.
Putting aside whether one approved of the policy breakthroughs, this poll result makes it seem as if much of the public simply doesn't realize that the policy breakthroughs were unusual.
I don't expect the public to have an extensive knowledge of federal policymaking history, but I at least hoped Americans would realize the scope of recent accomplishments. We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Congress passed and the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, etc. Policymakers might yet add to this list in the lame-duck session.
Or it could be Steve that (as anonymous commenters keep remind me) there's a 9.6% unemployment rate and none of that stuff matters if you've been out of work for a year and are about to lose your house as a result. Despite the very real fact that it would be worse without all those accomplishments, the average American voter is hurting, and they are going to either take it out on the Dems, or simply won't vote.
Either one is deadly to the Democrats and will likely bring huge Republican gains unless people get motivated and soon.
Running on what the Dems have done isn't going to work. I hate to say it, but running on what the Republicans plan to do is about the only honest shot you have of keeping Congress.