A record 64 percent of American adults surveyed by Gallup in a poll released Monday rated the honesty and ethical standards for members of Congress as "low" or "very low." Those numbers mark the lowest rating that Gallup has measured for any profession since it began polling the question in 1976.
The 64 percent rating ties members of Congress with the 64 percent low rating that lobbyists received in Gallup's 2008 survey.
Historical trends indicate that it's not surprising Congress ranked so low on ethics. But the more noteworthy trend is that a growing number of Americans are labeling their rating "low" or "very low" with a corresponding decline in "high" or "very high" ratings, as the chart below illustrates:
The low ethics rating is in line with the overall low regard the American public has for its lawmakers. Many of the Republican presidential candidates have seized on those sentiments and are floating ideas to institute new restrictions, such as term limits, members of Congress.
Members of Congress, lobbyists, car salespeople, and telemarketers round out the bottom tier of professions ranked by public perceptions of their ethics in the Gallup survey. The professions earning high ethics marks in the poll were nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors and high school teachers.
The Nov. 28-Dec. 1 poll of adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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