Voters Wary of Re-electing Present Congress

Patrick Casey
Gallup has just released some interesting poll results, based upon the responses that registered voters gave recently when the following questions were asked:

Please tell me whether you think each of the following political officeholders deserves to be re-elected, or not.

How about (most members of Congress)?

How about (the U.S. representative in your congressional district)?

Gallup found that only 36% of the respondents thought that current members of Congress should be re-elected, the second lowest rating they've measured since polling this question. That's even lower than the 38% that Gallup found in 2006, shortly before control of Congress shifted from the GOP to the Democrats. The lowest such result? In 1992, when only 29% thought that Congress deserved re-election. Control of Congress didn't shift in that election, primarily due to the insulating effect of Bill Clinton's Presidential win, but control did shift the following election in 1994.

As for their own representative, 57% of respondents thought that he or she should be re-elected. Gallup relays the fact that while respondents are usually more "charitable" in evaluating their own representatives, this result is also among the lowest polled. Gallup then goes on to point out:

Both items (most members and your member) seem to show similar changes from one poll to another, and low ratings tend to presage significant turnover in Congress. Thus, congressional incumbents may be in for a bumpy ride during this fall's campaign, as many try to hold on to their seats in a year when voters are looking to change the government.

...One major theme of the 2008 election thus far has been "change." Most of the presidential candidates sounded that theme during their campaigns, but voters apparently are in the mood to change Congress as well. Typically, when lower percentages of voters say their member of Congress and most members of Congress deserve re-election, the membership of Congress is shaken up on Election Day.

We've been told over and over again that this is the "year of the Democrat". And it's also a year in which the media is overwhelmingly supporting the Democratic presidential candidate - much more so than usual. That should result in a substantial and consistent lead for the Democratic candidate, which would naturally insulate the Democratic Congress via the "down ticket" effect (as it did in 1992, with Bill Clinton and an unpopular Democratic Congress).

However, the polling evidence so far this year seems to indicate, remarkably, that this is still a wide-open race on both the presidential and congressional levels. Put simply, no one is happy with elected officials this year. Voters want to be grabbed by someone - anyone - and they haven't been, at least not yet.

That's why situations like the ongoing one in Washington, where the GOP is marching down to the Capitol every day and demanding that Congress be reconvened to deal with the gasoline and energy issues, is so important. If something like this excites and motivates the base, and attracts the interest of moderates and independents, it could make a huge difference in the fall elections.

The Democrats and many pundits are calling this act by the GOP an embarrassing political stunt. But if it is such an embarrassment, why isn't the mainstream media covering it? Why aren't the Democrats demanding that it be covered in the press? If it is so self-evidently foolish, then wouldn't the resultant bad publicity for the GOP be good for the Democrats in this critical election year?

Well, the drive-by media isn't covering it - I have yet to find any substantial article on it in the major news outlets, let alone lead stories - because this is exactly the type of thing that could grab the public's attention and widespread support. And that would be bad for the Democrats, and (more importantly) bad for Barack Obama.

Can't have that during the self-anointed "year of the Democrats"...
Gallup has just released some interesting poll results, based upon the responses that registered voters gave recently when the following questions were asked:

Please tell me whether you think each of the following political officeholders deserves to be re-elected, or not.

How about (most members of Congress)?

How about (the U.S. representative in your congressional district)?

Gallup found that only 36% of the respondents thought that current members of Congress should be re-elected, the second lowest rating they've measured since polling this question. That's even lower than the 38% that Gallup found in 2006, shortly before control of Congress shifted from the GOP to the Democrats. The lowest such result? In 1992, when only 29% thought that Congress deserved re-election. Control of Congress didn't shift in that election, primarily due to the insulating effect of Bill Clinton's Presidential win, but control did shift the following election in 1994.

As for their own representative, 57% of respondents thought that he or she should be re-elected. Gallup relays the fact that while respondents are usually more "charitable" in evaluating their own representatives, this result is also among the lowest polled. Gallup then goes on to point out:

Both items (most members and your member) seem to show similar changes from one poll to another, and low ratings tend to presage significant turnover in Congress. Thus, congressional incumbents may be in for a bumpy ride during this fall's campaign, as many try to hold on to their seats in a year when voters are looking to change the government.

...One major theme of the 2008 election thus far has been "change." Most of the presidential candidates sounded that theme during their campaigns, but voters apparently are in the mood to change Congress as well. Typically, when lower percentages of voters say their member of Congress and most members of Congress deserve re-election, the membership of Congress is shaken up on Election Day.

We've been told over and over again that this is the "year of the Democrat". And it's also a year in which the media is overwhelmingly supporting the Democratic presidential candidate - much more so than usual. That should result in a substantial and consistent lead for the Democratic candidate, which would naturally insulate the Democratic Congress via the "down ticket" effect (as it did in 1992, with Bill Clinton and an unpopular Democratic Congress).

However, the polling evidence so far this year seems to indicate, remarkably, that this is still a wide-open race on both the presidential and congressional levels. Put simply, no one is happy with elected officials this year. Voters want to be grabbed by someone - anyone - and they haven't been, at least not yet.

That's why situations like the ongoing one in Washington, where the GOP is marching down to the Capitol every day and demanding that Congress be reconvened to deal with the gasoline and energy issues, is so important. If something like this excites and motivates the base, and attracts the interest of moderates and independents, it could make a huge difference in the fall elections.

The Democrats and many pundits are calling this act by the GOP an embarrassing political stunt. But if it is such an embarrassment, why isn't the mainstream media covering it? Why aren't the Democrats demanding that it be covered in the press? If it is so self-evidently foolish, then wouldn't the resultant bad publicity for the GOP be good for the Democrats in this critical election year?

Well, the drive-by media isn't covering it - I have yet to find any substantial article on it in the major news outlets, let alone lead stories - because this is exactly the type of thing that could grab the public's attention and widespread support. And that would be bad for the Democrats, and (more importantly) bad for Barack Obama.

Can't have that during the self-anointed "year of the Democrats"...