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Approval of Congress at record low Ties December's 13%; 84% in poll disapprove

It is the institution that everyone loves to hate, and according to the latest Gallup poll released Tuesday, there is seemingly no bottom to Americans' disapproval of Congress.

Only 13 percent of those surveyed approve of Congress, tying the record low from December. Disapproval of the national lawmakers stood at 84 percent, a percentage point higher than December.

The findings are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,008 adults done Thursday through Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll comes after Washington broke a deadlock to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut more than $2 billion in spending. The negotiations in a Congress divided along Democratic and Republican lines and amid a GOP split in its conservative ranks lasted weeks and left a foul aftertaste for voters.

The poll also comes after the rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating, contributing to a week of stock market volatility.

Gallup has measured Americans' approval rating of Congress since 1974, and the average over that time has been about 34 percent, better than double the current finding.

The current unhappiness crosses all political lines, with those calling themselves independents the most critical. Only 9 percent of independents approve of Congress, while 86 percent disapprove.

Republicans and Democrats give Congress a better grade but are still overwhelmingly negative.

The role of Congress is at the heart of President Obama's immediate political and policy strategy of trying to blame congressional Republicans for the failures of the economic recovery to take hold and the nation's inability to generate enough jobs to bring the unemployment rate down below 9.1 percent.

Speaking at the start of his three-day bus swing through the Midwest, the president, whose own approval ratings have been falling, made no secret of who he thinks is at fault.

"There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now," he said Monday at a town hall-style meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn.

"What is needed is action on the part of Congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say, we're going to do what's right for the country, not what we think is going to score some political points for the next election."

It is unclear how Obama's criticism will affect negotiations with Congress on his promised jobs package.

The 2012 campaign is under way, and according to the polls, it seems destined to play out against decreased approval of all political institutions.

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