Well, it’s another classic example of how you can present the same public opinion numbers two very different ways: the latest Gallup report on Congress’ approval rating shows approbation for the solons standing at 17%, or about half the average congressional approval rating since 1974. On the other hand, that’s a 70% increase in congressional approval ratings since February, when they hit a historic 10%.

Part of the problem, it seems, is that with neither party totally controlling Congress, both Republicans and Democrats are free to loathe the legislative branch. Independents almost always do anyway, unless conditions in the country are unusually peachy for an extended period of time. So the numbers are not likely to get much better any time soon until the economy turns around sharply and/or one party gets control of both Houses.

I remember how shocked I was when the California legislature’s approval ratings dropped into the low teens and then into the single digits. I mean, at some point that means the margin of error could account entirely for any stray respondents expressing approval of the institution. It turns out that in that respect as in so many others over the years, California is a harbinger of both good and bad things to come.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.