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

    ↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑This guy has me motivated↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

    October 17, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. larry

    I think they should throw out the whole republican party simply because they are going to try and get every body social security I am 67. And retired and drawing social security my wife is dissablet to she has to get a lawyer to get her social security it a shame all the old people have to suffer. Be cause of the republicanparty where does all that money go on social security when some one dies in the ha DS of the elected officials

    In Washington DC and they want to cut of social security if they do they need to cut there mothers out to and even there's to

    October 17, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. Joyce

    Time to throw congress out of congress

    October 17, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    In Michigan we need to can both Carl and Sandy Levin. All they do is want to tax and spend!

    October 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. gary

    Once again, the Republicans cost the country $24 billion for nothing. Yet, they claim they are fiscal conservatives. Now, they will remew the fight in January again. The Ryan budget will come to the floor once more and they will never give up on Obamacare. The only way to end this is for the voters to throw them out of the House in 2014. No other way will end the debacle in their politics. It is an embarrassment!

    October 17, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. AngryInTheMiddle

    . Businesses make money. That's what they do and that's right. But govt helps protect the little people. Do you favor toxic pollution and dangerous consumer products? What we NEED are politicians who put the regular American first and who stop catering to businesses. (sorry tea party -you're supported by big business interests and your policies favor business interests over the well being of average americans – you are minimal- govt-libertarians in republican clothes)
    I WANT to have big guns (figurative) available if some business decides it's better for their bottom line to dump[ toxic waste in my neighborhood. You do away with every govt program and you undermine the things that help protect our health and well being. We NEED people who support the idea that govt should help people in the interest of health and safety but at the same time do it in a sensible and fiscally responsible way. But no..we have ppl so far to the right and left ...one side wants to bury us in debt and the other side wants to deregulate us to the point where big business can run over anyone they please. If you consider yourself "real" anything it just means you're "real" stupid.

    October 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. Brett

    Throw all the bums out.

    October 17, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Anonymous

    get a life what is so wrong with all people being entitled to health care. It is so wrong to deprive the less fortunate of benefits there are good and bad habits of people. With the help of God we all need to repent and turn away from our wicked ways and allow him our creator to heal this nation. We are all God's children. Black or White, Red or Yellow. God Bless America

    October 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    Daniella

    When will the impeachment of Obama happen. I agree with what the republicans say. The democrats need to leave.
    ------------

    When? As soon as you go back into your FoxNews-induced coma. Don't forget to pay attention to the sparkly unicorn dolls since that's about as much retention you have

    October 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Oh Poor Ed

    ED – your issue is that the democrats didn't want compromise when the fact remains that they had a full year to talk and comprise when Obama care was being first introduced. What happen these past 16 days were horrible and I plan more than effort to donate my time and money to elect these clowns out of office.

    October 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Jaime

    The problem is that some of us are too forgiving. Some congress members will act as heroes and we forget what they have done. They sure want our taxes on time, no exception. We must demand they do their job in a timely matter.

    October 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Tom1940

    Now the attention of the country in the media will be back to Obama Care Registration problems, ongoing Scandals etc. In other words, business as usual, until this agreement expires and the political class is back in the trenches again. Too bad the Republicans did not "push" for full, unrestricted, un-delayed implementation of Obama Care, with no cut outs for the political class, the Big Unions, Big Business and put "us" all in the same boat to proceed forward as fast as we can to get this thing "done". Personally, I believe it is the biggest fiasco and fraud ever perpetrated upon the public – ever. Bankrupting the country, resuting in implementation of "death panels" and restrictions upon care and access to, and drugs that now prolong life, being withheld, (and the list goes on). I bureaucratic nightmare only now emerging that will not get better, but worse. The young will "opt" out. Shortfall in revenue will require curtailment of goods and services or additional taxes. Where will it all end. Probably in bankruptcy, collapse and total destruction of both the public and private sectors of health care providers, and the insurance infrastructure that will no longer exist to support private health care. Not a pretty picture, but one those voting for "free-bees" from Obama and his minions seem to want. I hope all of us can survive this terrible and costly decision.

    October 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. NamBrittee

    Mike Kelly has got to go

    October 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. avdin

    Anyone who puts blame on just one party or person for this debacle is delusional. Everyone had at least some fault in it. In my opinion they should all resign.
    There is no way that I will vote for anyone who is currently in office to continue to be allowed to do the job of representing the opinions and interests of the people, both of which they discarded in this recent fiasco.
    Be the incumbent Democrat or Republican they will not get my vote in their next election.

    October 17, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. KWA

    All members of the Senate and Congress need to go. Our so called govt. could care less what we the people want and are more interested in telling us what we want and then convincing us they are right. Screw that! I for one would support a no party govt elected by the people for the people of course we are now a socialist republic and that will never happen

    October 17, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Ed pot meet kettle

    Ed, seriously, read your post about thinking you know something you don't...because based on what you said it clearly applies to you as well...you are officially part of the problem...

    October 17, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Vat

    As I recall, the President asked Congress to come to the White House, many times, and they refused. Why can't they except that he's won, and work toward moving our country on.
    I can see from this morning news , the Tea Party is still try to stir the pot.

    October 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Name daniel. c.

    I for one will not vote for any democrat in the next election, I don't like their position on the commitees that are currently shown, as though the republicans are making up their position. Do I think that democrats will lose out in the 2014 vote I say no. Look at N.J. a democrat senator won. It goes to show dem voter like things as they are, not this dem, I can't vote for stupidness over and over again

    October 17, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Widow

    I find it pretty funny that republicans are the big ones talking the fall.. They didn't spend 7 trillion with zero sustainability like Obama.. A few voted how their constituents wanted them to vote against the ACA.. That is how the country works.. The lead negotiator is Obama and he chose NOT to lead and to just let congress fight it out. That is in no way a leader.. If this was a business with 300 million investors they would have voted Obama out a long time ago. Congress has many issues but it is the JOB of the President to make them work together.. Obama ran on being the most bipartisan candidate and pledging to work with republicans when he ran the first time.. All he did was waste trillions and let congress bucket and fight. Even his own party has a difficult time dealing with him. This is a two way street both parties are to blame equally. But the leader is Obama and in any company the leader takes responsibility and Obama has never done that.. He always throws it back for congress to fight it out with the only guidance being not removing or changing the ACA like he did for his corporate buddies. I know UPS employees are sure livid about the ACA and they aren't the only large corporation with tens if thousands of workers who now have to pay a huge sum to get insurance through the ACA

    October 17, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. A

    I don't understand why everyone blames the businesses... Aren't the businesses the ones who employ Americans? They're the ones giving paychecks to their employees. Why pick on businesses who would like to expand and create more jobs but are hurting. Instead of dishing out welfare checks left and right, why would we not take care of business so they can take care of their employees? I've never understood how people could think differently.

    October 17, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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