Congress sees bump in approval rating after resisting Syria action

Congress’s approval rating rose to the highest level in nearly a year as lawmakers resisted President Obama’s call for military action against Syria.

A new Gallup poll released Thursday found a 5-percentage-point increase in Congress’s popularity to 19 percent.

Congress's approval rating was likely buoyed by the Syria debate, which saw Obama ask Congress to authorize the use of military force in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack. 

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Lawmakers expressed skepticism about the request, and it appeared that Obama had not corralled enough votes for an authorization before Syria's offer to turn over its chemical weapons cache earlier this week. With polling consistently showing that Americans disapproved of military action, Congress's resistance to action might have benefited their poll numbers.

"The timing of the recent poll — closely following the president's request for authorization to use force in Syria — combined with Americans' opposition to such action suggests that Congress' apparent lack of enthusiasm about this military intervention may be the reason for the increase in its approval rating," said Gallup's Jeffrey Jones in a release. 

"Before Obama asked for a delay in the congressional vote, it was unclear whether Congress would authorize military action against Syria, with many more members publicly opposing it than publicly favoring it, and a large number undecided."

By contrast, just 31 percent of Americans say they approve of President Obama's handling of Syria, although the poll was conducted before the Syrian offer and Obama's address to the nation Tuesday night.

Still, the president's overall approval rating, 45 percent, remains roughly in line with his historical average, and has not moved significantly in recent weeks.

Interestingly, approval of Congress has not shown a partisan bent. Among Republican voters, approval of Congress has improved 5 percentage points, while lawmakers have gained 6 percentage points with independents and 3 percentage points with Democrats.