NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, Congress’s approval ratings have hit a new low.

Only 11% of the country now approves of how Congress is handling its job while 86% explicitly disapprove, according to a Gallup survey of more than 1,000 people. By comparison, 13% of Americans said they approved of Congress in November.

This marks the lowest approval rating for any Congress since Gallup began asking the question in 1974. That means the country disapproves of Congress more now than it did during the severe recession in the early 1980s, the government shutdown in 1995-96 and even the long and heated health care debate of 2009.

At least part of the reason, Gallup suggests, is that voters have become increasingly frustrated with the contentious state of politics in Washington, D.C., whether it be fighting over the budget or, as is the case currently, fighting over whether or not to extend payroll tax cuts into 2012.

“Clearly, the perceived bad economy, the increasing polarization between political parties, and highly visible instances of congressional inability to reach agreement on how to fix problems have all contributed,” Gallup notes in its report.

Something tells us the decision to vote against the payroll tax cut extension Tuesday won’t exactly help matters.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.