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

    The TEA party exists because of three people.
    1. Harry Ried
    2. Nancy Polosi
    3. Barack Obama.
    Blame those three, without those left wing liberals the TEA party would not have come into power.
    President Obama promised to bring us together he has failed because of a partisen victory.
    The ACA is a Phyrric victory.

    October 16, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. johngalt

    Since one of my representative is Ted Cruz, yes, I'd say it's time to throw the bum out. He can take the other senator and my rep with him.

    October 16, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. ShawnDH

    Bye Bye GOP. This entire episode was a national disgrace. We will remember next November.

    October 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Don Landrum

    I say throw them ALL out. Every single last one of them.....Democrats and Republicans. Start completely over and let the newbies know, if they don't work FOR the people instead of themselves and special interest groups – THEY'LL be voted out themselves. Enough!

    October 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. RJ

    All of them need to be put on term limits. So now you gotta wonder whose pork are we funding this time. I tried to raise my debt limit once, yea right. Republicans are pushed by the Tea Party, the tea party is ultra consertive. the democrats want it "my way or the highway" so they can fund every special program. So in January it will be "here we go again"
    Carear Politicians, making their living off the backs of the tax payers, then give themselves better benifit programs than they give us. All the government keeps giving themselves is more. My back is getting tired of giving them MORE.

    October 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. S

    What's the use of Democracy of they ( Congress ) bring country to brink of Default .

    October 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Edgar

    I think that there shold be a term limit, that is all. 4 2 year terms for Congress and 2 6 year terms for Senate. Oh, and no healthcare for life either, or any other perks at our expence after they are gone.

    October 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. KJF_ Minnesota

    Term limits are the answer. Limit the house to 3 terms and the Senate to 2 terms. To be fair let anyone ousted by term limits run again after sitting out a while. I believe if they know they can't get reelected then they would be more likely to work together and in the best interests of the country.

    October 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. ED1

    By the way the so called Tea Party members of Congress were elected and re-elected to stop the out of control the Democrat counterparts were doing.

    Just think we will be the largest part time employed workers in the world thanks in part to their bringing this Country down with all their left wing Government giveaways.

    I know the truth hurts but some how you will spin this the other way as CNN, CBS, ABC and all the other left wing stupid people.

    I love it when a State says they are getting free money form our Government most run by Democrats and are in financial trouble can't even understand that this is our tax dollars we paid.

    October 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Veritas

    Interesting that in this game of political chicken it was the Republicans who ultimately swerved rather than wreck the economy, while Democrats demonstrated they were willing to go all the way and default our debt in order to keep Obamacare. I guess that means the Democrats "won" but somehow I don't find that kind of victory very reassuring...

    October 16, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. John in CA

    There will be voter reckoning in the coming elections. We are tired of politicians playing brinksmanship and disrupting our government inventing crisis after crisis. Special interests and personal agendas have no place in last minute brinksmanship. Save it for the negotiating table in the normal legislative committee and brokering process. We need term limits, campaign finance reform, and pull all funding from State programs until they get these Koch and Norquist funded T-baggers and all the other gerrymandered districts redrawn to make them more diverse and representative of the people and not made to represent a lunatic fringe whose only motive is to impeach rather than improve our societies inheritance and advancement!

    October 16, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Don Landrum

    In response to some talking about the big turnover that occurred before........they learned quickly how to run for office, get kudos and live the good life. Vote 'em out. Make sure your next candidate know he/she better work for the public.

    October 16, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  13. BubblesB

    Clark, 2 year term limits is not reasonable at all. Make it 4 years for the House and Senate. The President already has an 8 year term limit.

    October 16, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. Mymy

    National referendum on term limits on all elected officials is the only way to stop this madness. Too much time campaigning and posturing not enough work.

    October 16, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. tv22

    Anyone that wants one party in and the other out hasn't been paying attention the last few years. It seems we go out of our way to send demagogues to Washington.

    October 16, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. K

    We need a "Fresh Start" campaign and start replacing these legislators that are not representing the American people. They need to realize majority rules and sometimes you need to work together and compromise.

    October 16, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Les

    It is time for middle class Americans to take control of our country back from the three piece suits who A) tell Congress how to vote, B) tell Wall Street how to invest and C) tell all of us what to believe. We have watched helplessly as Congress loosened controls on the S&L industry which led to an economical disaster WE paid for, followed by Congress refusing to add controls to Wall Street which led to a Recession that cost all of us at least a third of our retirement savings. Now they play a game of chicken which will not cost any of them a nickel whoever allegedly "wins" once again putting our hard-earned money at risk. We need leaders, not children who point the finger and play the blame game. So yes...vote them all out and elect your neighbors, not just the cat with the most money and the most powerful lobbyists behind them.

    October 16, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. David Brown

    Our Democracy has been held hostage for three weeks by political extremists. The GOP ain't 'Grand' any more ... In fact, the 'tea party' nut jobs make Regan look like a present day moderate Democrat. How can we let so few people wield so much destructive power? Hurt so many people 'for their own good'. Make no mistake about it, these people have done nothing to create, build or constructively criticize ... just burn it all down and hope someone else will clean up the mess. The stupidity shown so far is epic and may indeed be a foreshadowing of our very near future. I urge everyone to make a learned decision in voting [if that still is possible] for a candidate, any candidate either Republican or Democrat, who can build rather than destroy.

    October 16, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Ed Kidwell

    Bottom line? HELL YES!!!!!! Send them ALL packing , replace them and if their replacements don't do what we HIRED them to do............GOODBYE again until we get it right.

    October 16, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Richard Miller

    Steve Daines, the Tea Party hack from Montana, is going to be thrown out. I'll help the jerk pack.

    October 16, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. jcinter

    The GOP is no longer the Republican party of the Nixon, Reagan and Bush 41 era. The current GOP is hijacked by those Tea Bagger idiots and has become a joke. The budget and debts ceiling fight achieved absolutely NOTHING but making the USA a laughing stock in the global markets.

    Any budget discussion, cuts and gains, should have been processed and resolved during regular congress sessions and voted way before the ceremonial annual budget presentation and passing. That was how it's done in the 1950 and 60's. This bunch Tea baggers are like a spoiled kid through a fit, sitting on the wal Mart floor, crying for attention.

    Kick those Tea Baggers out of the congress and return our true GOP back to its dignity.

    October 16, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. Tom

    Yes, I definitely want my representative, Tim Huelskamp, thrown out of office. Huelskamp is one of the Tea Party jerks that started this nonsense. He's a disgrace to Kansas and the United States.

    October 16, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Tom101

    Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember 9/11! Remember the Boehner/Tea Party/GOP Attack on America!!

    October 16, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Rosa

    I live in Al-6. Been trying to get rid of Spencer Bachus since I moved here 12 years ago but he runs unoppsed in the general election every time. He is going to retire now and will probably be replaced with someone even crazier than he was.

    October 17, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  25. ed

    BeadlesAz – You are a perfect example of what is wrong in this country today. You don't know anything yet you THINK you do. The Govt is complex? It shouldn't be! It is complex because it is so big. Because politicians have to justify their phoney jobs. As the the Tea Party, are you against small Govt? Are you against low/no taxes? If you like big Govt and high taxes I suggest you move to Europe. And obama/Reid's idea of compromise is simple, give me everything I want THEN I'll consider talking to you about what you want. You think that's compromise? It's people like you that have f'ed up this country for our kids. I only hope there are enough of us left to undo the damage in 2014.

    October 17, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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