(CNN) –Just weeks before crucial midterm elections, a new poll says nearly three quarters of Americans see Congress as out of touch, much as they did in 1994, the last time the minority party took control of Capitol Hill.
Seventy-four percent of respondents to a new Opinion Research poll say Congress is generally out of touch with average Americans. That’s up from 69 percent who agreed with that view in a January poll this year.
In 1994, 75 percent of respondents to a CNN poll also said Congress was out of touch. Voters then proceeded to vote out Democrats in both the House and the Senate, a sweep that hadn’t been seen in the House since 1952.
Recent polls have suggested increased voter interest in this election, as growing unpopularity over the U.S.-led war in Iraq and scandals in Congress have boiled over into the political arena.
The GOP’s hold on power in Congress is slim. Democrats need only a net gain of 15 seats to retake the House and six to control the Senate. Political watchers say those majorities, especially the one in the House, may be threatened.
According to the poll, 58 percent of respondents said they believe most members of Congress are focused on special interests, and 38 percent said the legislators pay more attention to constituents.
Chasing the American dream
Belief in the so-called “American dream,” according to the poll, appears to be split between college graduates and people without college degrees. Sixty percent of respondents who had no college degree said it’s impossible for most people to achieve the American dream, while only 38 percent of grads said so.
Nearly half of the 506 people surveyed on that topic said they have just enough money to maintain their standard of living, while 26 percent contended they are falling behind. Less than a quarter, or 23 percent, said they are getting ahead.
More than half, or 54 percent, agreed that the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve. Forty-five percent disagreed, and the rest had no opinion. Those numbers were roughly the same in results from a poll in January 2003 — almost two years before President Bush won re-election.
White House and ‘big business’
Fifty-five percent of respondents said they are dissatisfied with the current opportunities for the next generation to live better than their parents, and 44 percent said they were satisfied.
Respondents also were asked whether “big business” has too much influence over decisions made by the Bush administration.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed in the new Opinion Research poll said they feel big business does have too much influence over the administration’s decisions. The poll comes after a congressional lobbying scandal and questions about White House ties to the Halliburton Co., a key U.S. contractor in the Iraq war.
The percentage of people who feel the administration is overly influenced by corporations is up 10 percentage points from a poll conducted in April 2001, a few months after Bush became president.
The newly released poll is based on phone interviews with 1,012 adult Americans. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For the half sample of 506 respondents, the margin of error is plus or or minus 4.5 percentage points.