Congressional disapproval ratings hit 72 percent, now at late-1994 levels

TOP OF THE BALLOT: A side effect of the healthcare process is the highest congressional disapproval since October 1994; members ready for town hall craziness; Tea Party meets its resistance

Highest disapproval of Congress since Oct. 31, 1994

The jury is in, and Democrats did indeed get a slight bump from healthcare reform. But will the sausage-making do them in?

Tucked away inside a new Washington Post/ABC News poll is a key figure — 72 percent. That’s the percentage of voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing, and the number hasn’t been that high since — you guessed it — the week before the 1994 election.

The Cornhusker Kickback and Gator-aid — two controversial provisions in the healthcare bill — are a couple of attractively named and accessible reasons why people don’t like how Congress operates. And at no point in the last 16 years has that picture been so clear to voters.

Other signs in the poll are more positive for Democrats, though. It pegs President Barack Obama’s approval rating at 53 percent (43 percent disapproval). And the bill itself is up a slight two points from last month. Also, of the 46 percent of voters who approve overall, the group that strongly approves of the bill rose by 10 points, to 32 percent.

Town hall fun ahead

If Democratic members of Congress thought August was fun, wait till they find out what recess is like after you pass healthcare reform.

The at-times violent and vulgar reaction to the passage of the bill last week will be front and center as members return home for a two-week recess. Already, members are dealing with protests at their homes, being spat on and being cursed at. And for the members who have the courage to hold public events, it could only be the beginning.

Democratic leaders have sought to put the issue behind them, complaining that it distracts from their momentous legislative victory. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on Friday said it was appropriate for his party to call attention to what certain conservative activists are subjecting his members to, but he also declined to elaborate on his comments suggesting GOP leaders had fomented the events.

Look for these kinds of stories to continue over the next two weeks.

Tea Party under attack

The Tea Party is an emerging force in the political landscape, but resistance is building.

Remember Scott Ashjian, the third-party Tea Party candidate who threatened to take double digits in Nevada and keep Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in office? He now faces felony theft charges and is being derided by Tea Party activists locally for being an opportunist.

And over at The Fix, Chris Cillizza has the scoop on Democratic consultant Craig Varoga creating an anti-Tea Party political action committee, called the Patriot Majority PAC. Varoga managed Tom Vilsack’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The group is reportedly looking at getting involved in 12 to 15 races where Tea Party candidates are running.

Other updates:

-Illinois Democrats have chosen Sheila Simon, the daughter of former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), to replace the infamous Scott Lee Cohen as Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) running mate.

-A new Mason-Dixon poll has Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) approval rating down 18 points from when he was reelected in 2006. It stands at 36 percent.