A recent survey that's been getting some attention asks people whether they have a more favorable opinion of Congress or various widely disliked things. Congress ranks behind many of them--cockroaches seem to be getting the most publicity. On looking at the complete list, I noticed one that seemed out of place--France. France did get more approval than Congress (46%-37%), but the margin wasn't impressive: traffic jams got more approval by 56%-34%. Do Americans really dislike France that much?
I found a number of questions of the basic form "What is your overall opinion of France? Is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?" A few of them just asked whether it was favorable or unfavorable, so I collapsed them all into favorable and unfavorable and took the difference between favorable and unfavorable ratings.
Favorable opinions have consistently outnumbered unfavorable ones,
except in 2003-4. That stretch of unpopularity was presumably the
result of France's opposition to the Iraq war, but apparently most of us
have forgiven them. The latest survey (Feb 2012) had 75% favorable and
21% unfavorable, which is somewhat below the favorability ratings in
the 1990s, but still pretty good.
I would try to figure out a way to reconcile the results, but the survey on Congress was an automated one (press 1 for .... ), and as I've said before, I suspect that people don't take automated surveys very seriously. I hope they don't--otherwise we have to conclude that Americans are pretty fond of lice, which beat Congress by 67%-19%.