Time to throw my guy out of Congress?
October 16th, 2013
01:45 PM ET
9 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. Jay

    I think the issue is with the Tea Party not with all Republicans. I think it is time for the Tea Party to go.

    October 16, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Vic

    We, too, are sick of everything and everybody connected to the Tea Party. They have managed to have their supposed party, the GOP, defeated in the last two presidential elections. Our Congress people were sent to DC to represent us, but I wonder if they know the meaning of the word, "Double-Cross?" Just wait, we of the American public. This native Texan and most others will have our say at the ballot box. "Til then, the Congress is nothing but an embarrassment.

    October 16, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Dale

    The conservatives always starts, but never follows through wu=ith their bluster...Time for them to go. My position was thus, allow the default and then see which party was telling the truth. During this Drama...what other important event was missed? Also, why is it, every time an event of National Political Importance arises, does O'bama run out a w/m for the Medal of Honor?

    October 16, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    Yes, it would be nice if people would stop voting for the obstructionists, but unfortunately people have short memories. Come the election next year, this will be forgotten.

    October 16, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. DaveW

    I'm kicking my guys to the curb. FED UP.

    October 16, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Eileen

    We don't have to throw anyone out. Our country is going to die a slow death. It is spending itself into oblivion and anyone who sincerely tries to do anything about it is thrown under the bus. It's committing suicide. The government leeches keep voting in whoever will get them what they want, while the leeches sit on their butts. Hard-working people have to pay for others who do nothing.

    October 16, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Martha in CF

    I wonder how many seen the few redumblicans-Palin, Cruz and the other loonies with our military--how pitiful. Blaming the shutdown on Obama and the Senate-really!!!!!!!!!!!!!Palin needs to go back to AK cuz she always opens her mouth on things she hasn't a clue about--Cruz needs to apologize to our military--he was involved in this government vote to shutdown the government.
    And finally--shame on congress for taking away health insurance for the people who work for them-day in and day out....I have never heard anything as LOW as this.......
    Term limits and changes to the amount of money given to campaigns--it is not our elected officials working for the American people-it is the MONEY which is influencing this elected officials and everyone of them comes out of congress wealthy.......it is sickening.

    October 16, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Kenny

    If my rep votes to open the Government I will do everything I can to end his career.

    October 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Vic

    We, too, are sick of everything and everybody connected to the Tea Party. They have managed to have their supposed party, the GOP, defeated in the last two presidential elections. Our Congress people were sent to DC to represent us, but I wonder if they know the meaning of the word, "Double-Cross?" Just wait. This native Texan and most others will have our say at the ballot box. "Til then, the Congress is nothing but an embarrassment.

    October 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. Joe Biden

    Yep, time to throw them out, but the problem is there aren't enough independents for me to vote AGAINST democrats and I ALWAYS do that, I vote just like a democrat.

    October 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. Largo

    It is past time to throw the majority out, Republicans, Democrats, Independents. Unfortunately those who will be thrown out will most likely be the wrong ones. Those who remain will likely be those with the greater seniority. How nice it would be if Senate 'leaders' and House 'leaders' were to lose their next elections. Alas this is unlikely to come to be.

    October 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Larry282

    More importantly what needs to happen is the destruction of the political district. All of Congress should be elected by a majority of each state NOT a minority of political gerrymandered districts! It's time to return control of Congress to The American People!

    October 16, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. carlos

    the first to go when his time comes>>>>>>>>> canadian rafael cruz (he doesn't deserve CAPS)

    October 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    I agree tea party has to go!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. Larry L

    My representatives in Congress are all Republicans. Texas has taken a nose-dive in healthcare, infrastructure, environmental protection, women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, science education, and voter's rights. Even with the "dirty" oil boom and the large increase in government spending due to the BRAC, the prosperity gap widens. However, we are pulling ahead of America in obesity, teen pregnancy, air and water pollution, loss of water resources, diabetes, and many forms of cancer. Why would we want to retain any of our Republican leaders?

    October 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Angry Independent

    I don't care Rep or Dem. All should take responsibility and go. We need a fresh start. If we behaved like them at work, I am sure we were already fired. We need to throw all of them out.

    October 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. sly

    Congressional represents Americans. We elect them every 2 years. They are local community leaders, your next door neighbor.

    Do some of you really think Congress comes from another planet, or another nation?

    Nope. They represent America well. Even the TeaBillies represent their Confederate base well.

    Americans ALWAYS complain about something – time to look in the mirror. And come up with some good ideas yourself for a change.

    October 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Brian

    I will make I vote against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida. She took a pay check while the rest of us did not and for that she can now take a hike!

    October 16, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Not mine: they are Democrats. They are part of the solution, NOT part of the problem, regardless of how much time, energy and air the RWNJs spend claiming otherwise.

    October 16, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. mindstorms

    It is time to get rid of "professional" politicians who spend a majority of their time running for office and kissing _ss for campaign money. Strict term limits should help.

    October 16, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @Earl: "We need to throw every last stinking one of these bums out. We need to stand up for no more political lifers that do nothing whatsoever for the people. We need a fresh, clean start. VOTE THEM OUT!!!!!"

    Boy, I get sick of reading posts like this. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, why don't you use that lumb above your shoulders, do a little research and VOTE for people who actually get things done (hint: I'm talking about Democrats).

    October 16, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. Marcus

    Ever seen a poor politician? Me neither. Throw all of them out and start anew. My Congressmen (Howard "Buck" McKeon) has lost touch with his electorate.

    October 16, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. Joe

    They all need to go and we need to force all of them to change the benefits they get for serving! They need to be on Social Security and MediCare, then, and only then will these programs be administered fairly for all concerned.

    October 16, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Chris

    I am voting out as many of the Tea Baggers as I can. Saddly enough, most how vote are not paying attention or will forget when it comes time.

    October 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Stewart

    words come to mind, "At long last, senator, have you no sense of decency?" History repeats itself.
    These words are appropriate for all of our elected leaders John and Ted first, followed by the GOP, and the Dems. All are guilty of mismanagement and serving only a few. Just like senator McCarthy, there is no caring or concern for the people hurt in their grandstanding. They should be run out of office by practical, rational voters.

    October 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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