SUCCESS BEGETS SUCCESS…. Approval ratings for Congress have slowly deteriorated over the course of the year, but a new Gallup poll shows opinions of the legislative branch turning upwards, if only a little.


The poll found, “Americans express slightly greater approval of Congress this month after last month’s decline. The current 26% rating is up from 21% in October but down from 31% in August and September.”

To be sure, a 26% approval rating is downright horrible, and there’s no reason for anyone to celebrate a five-point uptick. The point, however, is that Congress’ support went up after getting something done.

“The results are from a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 5-8, as the U.S. House of Representatives labored through the weekend on healthcare reform, ultimately passing a $1 trillion bill intended to expand coverage to millions more Americans,” the analysis explained.

There are multiple dynamics involved in the public’s attitudes towards Congress, but it’s worth remembering that getting something done can do wonders for perceptions. If legislators want their branch of government to be more popular, it can, you know, do more legislating. If there’s a perception of ineptitude, the best way to overcome this is to be more effective at passing bills.

Also note the partisan breakdown. Congress’ numbers have fallen since March, in large part because self-identified Democrats have been less than pleased with the Democratic Congress. As the House passed health care, however, Democrats’ approval of the institution climbed from 36% to 47%. (Even rank-and-file Republicans were more impressed, going from 9% to 17%.)

The more Congress gets done, the better its numbers will be.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.