Time to throw my guy out of Congress?
October 16th, 2013
01:45 PM ET
10 months ago

Time to throw my guy out of Congress?

Washington (CNN) - It's conventional wisdom: Americans don't like Congress.

But when it comes time to vote, they usually don't throw their lawmaker out of office.

However, new polls indicate that times and perceptions about "throwing the bums out" may be changing.

Those same surveys, as well as a veteran political handicapper, also suggest that one year before the 2014 midterm elections, the shutdown may provide the Democrats an opportunity to win back the House.

The public is clearly angry over the two week-long partial federal government shutdown and how the talks to avert or end the shutdown and extend the nation's debt limit have been handled. And while polls suggest that more of the blame has been pointed at the Republicans in Congress rather than their Democratic counterparts or President Barack Obama, all sides are feeling the pain.

As history proves, House incumbents overwhelmingly get re-elected, even in wave years. Ninety-four percent of incumbents won in 2006, when Democrats re-took both houses of Congress. And 85% of incumbents won a return trip to Capitol Hill in 2010, when the GOP, thanks to a 63 seat pickup, took back control of the House. (Turnover in open seats where no incumbent was running accounted for the rest.)

But two new polls suggest that high retention rate could fall a bit in 2014.

While nearly three-quarters of registered voters questioned in a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday said they would like to see most members of Congress defeated in the next election, there was an even more eye popping number: Thirty-eight percent said they didn't want their own representative re-elected. That's the highest level recorded in the more than two decades that Pew has been asking that question.

"At this stage in the 2010 and 2006 midterms, fewer wanted to see their own member of Congress defeated (29% in November 2009, 25% in September 2005)," according to a release from Pew Research.

The Pew poll isn't alone in finding a rise in voter dissatisfaction with their own representatives.

Sixty percent of people questioned in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released last Thursday said if given the chance to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative, they would. That's the highest level ever recorded on that question in NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling.

"These polls show a strong anti-incumbent mood, but you have to remember that most incumbents represent relatively safe districts due to gerrymandering and will probably have a major cash advantage and few of them are likely to draw strong challengers," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, as well as handful of other national surveys conducted since the start of the shutdown on October 1, indicate the GOP brand taking a hit, with the party's favorable ratings and the approval ratings for congressional Republicans at or near historic lows.

Those numbers seem to be affecting the generic ballot, which asks if you would vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in your congressional district without mentioning the names of any candidates.

The Democrats have an eight point advantage, 47%-39%, over the GOP in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, a five point jump in a month. The Democrats were up nine points (43%-34%) in a Quinnipiac University survey conducted in the days just before the shutdown started, a five point increase since their previous poll in July. And the Democrats have a six-point advantage over the GOP in the Pew poll.

"An anti-incumbent mood tends to hurt the party that has more incumbents," added Holland "That would suggest that 2014 might be a bad year for Republicans, although with a Democrat in the White House, the anti-incumbent mood could be muddled."

The new polling also has a top non-partisan political handicapper changing his mind.

"Last week I observed that I hadn't yet seen 'compelling evidence' that a Democratic political wave could be developing. I can no longer say that after seeing the recently released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll," Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, said Wednesday.

But the next election is still more than a year away. At this time in 2010 midterm election cycle, the Democrats had the advantage in the generic ballot.

"Surveys conducted in the middle of a major event may have a very short shelf life," cautioned Rothenberg. "After the current confrontation ends, voters could easily return to their default partisan positions – or the shutdown and debt ceiling showdown could have created a new partisan baseline from which the GOP can never recover."

And while the generic ballot is a useful gauge, it's important to remember that the battle for the House is a district-by-district fight, rather than a national race, and just 17 of the 232 House Republicans are in districts won by Obama in last year's election.

–CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this story.


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. jazzophile

    I'm hoping that we see the last of Dan Benishek, here in Northern Michigan. He's not representing his constituents, but instead acting as if he won in a landslide, and that we're all a bunch of Tea Party supporters. We're not, Dan.

    October 16, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. tommy t

    It amazes me how everyone has been brainwashed that all Republicans should go. I guess If the media controls peoples thoughts long enough, Then you can convince them of anything,...

    October 16, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I don't think term limits will help much, if the next congressman is simply put in office by the same backers as the last. Some kind of campaign finance reform would be better.

    October 16, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. N. Saint Julian

    We need to throw all of them out.

    October 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    It is now time ti start thinking about paying back China IN FULL, and become SELF RELIANT ONCE AGAIN.

    October 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Loathstheright

    My representative here in West Seattle is doing a fine job, stands up for the working American. We don't have ANY REPUBLICANS in office in my area....so I don't have anyone to vote out. Just wish I could also vote in the south also and vote those Teabillies out of office.

    October 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Hogarth

    The events of the past few weeks may not lead to a handover of power in the House, but I expect they will lead to a change of tone, as the tea party loses seats to more rational voices in the Republican party.

    October 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    -tommy t

    It amazes me how everyone has been brainwashed that all Republicans should go. I guess If the media controls peoples thoughts long enough, Then you can convince them of anything,...
    ********************
    So sayeth one of the resident FOXbots.

    October 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Cynic

    Throw them all out. They're bums.

    October 16, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Bob C.

    You don't want term limits. You want mandatory open primaries. That would reduce the effects of gerrymandering and get rid of the extremists in both parties.

    My district DID kick out its Tea Party last election, but we're a more moderate district.

    October 16, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Wake up People!

    Good plan Jazzophile..

    Here in lower Michigan we plan to do the same except the wealthiest county in MI, Oakland, is Tea Party Central.

    I'm taking the day off work to drive people to the polls.....FREE OF CHARGE.

    October 16, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. smith

    Nothing will change in 2014. GOP will still have the house but will lose seats in the senate. Change won`t come til 2016, will it be Hil-dogg Clinton or Chris"Chunk" Christie?

    October 16, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. J Robinson

    In gerrymandered Districts, it's tough to get rid of them

    October 16, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Robin

    What's really sad, is that the Republicans really think what they are doing is okay. I will remember this come election time. This is America, you do not take the our citizens hostage!

    October 16, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. shellinaya

    The country is run by drunks in Congress. Get rid of them, half the problem is solved. http://youtu.be/vQ3_M9uWwZ8

    October 16, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Gabe Downey

    Granted, it's off-topic anyhow, but in response to Lorraine Hutson that's factually incorrect. He has submitted a budget each year.

    Furthermore, the budget in and of itself is not passed, it is determined by Congress. I don't know who starts these statements but they quickly become 'gospel' and it's important to understand what actually has occurred and what the actual methodology is.

    October 16, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. gaylela

    Where are the fact checkers? How much will Obamacare cost WHO? The insurance companies? Exact;y WHO shut down the government? Please check reports from 16 days ago. How much did the shutdown cost individuals, the nation, the world?

    October 16, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. shellinaya

    Congress is run by a drunk leader and his party's partiers. Get rid of the drunks, half the problem is solved. Watch – http://youtu.be/vQ3_M9uWwZ8

    October 16, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. rs

    I'm kinda happy with my conservative Democrat here is backwards, AZ.

    October 16, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. Jeb

    Republicans have become too rabid and extreme to govern anything.

    Threatening to destroy the United States economy because they don't have the votes to get their way Democratically is treason.

    Time to throw them out.

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. crippled dog

    I say string 'em up. Anybody got any string???

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. rs

    Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    It is now time ti start thinking about paying back China IN FULL, and become SELF RELIANT ONCE AGAIN.
    ___________________
    Agreed, but we'll pay more for that accomplishment, and especially the rich (who benefit from our great nation the most). That means no more "Taxed Enough Already" idiocy. We're Americans- we pay our way.

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. sly

    I for one want our Dem gone. I am tired of this administration raising the debt ceiling unnecessarily. How about preapare a budget within the funding limits. That's what the rest of us have to do.
    -–
    Ignorance must be bliss. This same Republican blogger applauded when 100% of Republicans voted to increase the defiicit and increase federal spending under Bush.

    Y'all voted for increase 8 years in a row with a Republican.

    Say what you really mean, two words: BLACK SKIN.

    Now come on, tell the truth. Y'all dont care about spending – you proved it 8 times.

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. yogi

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "Add to this that Mr. Reince Preibus has a re-branding issue at hand (again) and I suggest the bothsideisms talking points aren't going to wash in clear favor of the GOP."

    Another dilemma for the GOP is what to do with their new mascot, a pig covered in lipstick, as a symbol of the re-branding after the lost elections? The dinosaur will probably do.

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Dave Farrington

    I promise that I will NOT forget how Congress has been working.......or not working.

    October 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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