Time to throw my guy out of Congress?
October 16th, 2013
01:45 PM ET
8 years 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    Trying to save yourself, CNN? After all the mumbo jumbo polling data, you all are now willing to give up Republican talking points, or have you gone from the Republicans aren't taking a beating to its anyone's guess what will happen in 2014? Hint: The Republican party is divided and in-fighting with itself.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, folks are upset. More so than anyone at CNN has begun to understand. This is not 2010 to be repeated all over again. The TeaPers are history.

    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.

    October 16, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    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."
    One would think that common horse sense should be telling the Republicans to push the debt ceiling and the government funding out to December 2014. But, no! The higher priority is radical right wing social engineering. They're going to want to have this same fight every three months, because they know their days are numbered. Why not take as many cracks at it as you can get? Right? Isn't that the losing strategy that they've been following? How many repeal Obamacare votes are we up to now? 46?

    October 16, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. PaulCat

    If you're a member of the
    Tea Party group, you will be re-elected. This is how this mess got started in the frist place. Just think how far this country would be if it wasn't for the tea party group. And most of them are from the south.

    October 16, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Any member of congress, dem or teatard/repug, who voted, or not, and kept the blackmailing and extortion of the country Nd US citizens on edge and without pay after the shutdown should be thrown out.
    If you think that a foreigner like Rafael bin lDen has the power lets show them, and the world, starring in 2014 that we are not going to take it anymore.
    Find out how your reps voted and if they are anti American and pro Canadian Rafael bin laden, even if they like that haircut hiding the horns, they are gone. Take no prisoners.

    October 16, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. TheObserver

    They all need to go, red, blue and everything inbetween. Their generation had a nice long stay in the White House, made lots of money, enjoyed the life, and have collectively failed. In their time poverty (esp w children) has gone up, as have the salaries of CEO's and upper level employees. Financial institutions have mastered how to socialize all risk and privatize all profit. Public education has been all but gutted to pave the way for more profiteering. We've engaged our military in several pointless conflicts, and healthcare has become a privilege for the wealthy. This group has FAILED.

    New rule: No federal politicians older than 50.


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

    if they had anything to do with shipping jobs overseas –kick the traitors out

    October 16, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. S. B. Stein

    If my member of the House was a Republican that was for all the attempts to repeal the ACA, then yes even if I like his positions on other things. Fortunately, my member of the House wasn't one of those guys.

    October 16, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    unfortunately alot of the dissatisfaction on the right is that their reps were not extreme enough. There will be a lot of primary challanges to those who don't tow the T-T line.

    October 16, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. HenryMiller

    Yeah, it's time to toss the lot of them. And the twerp in the White House too.

    October 16, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Data Driven


    "They all need to go, red, blue and everything inbetween. Their generation had a nice long stay in the White House, made lots of money, enjoyed the life, and have collectively failed"

    I explained this to another rebel apologist today: we DID get rid of everyone already, and voted for the "tea party" who almost destroyed the country today. These are your fresh new faces. Now how do you like it?

    October 16, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. cumulus

    Simply can't understand why anyone who is not wealthy would vote Republican: everything they do hurts the working class, they keep voting gop and their standard of living keeps going down, hello, ever think about doing some research before you vote?

    October 16, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. A Kickin' Donkey

    I hope the President goes on TV and calls for the 28th Ammendmeent to the Consitution that would prohibit payment to any elected official whenever there is no valid, approved US budget. we need 2/3 rds and 3/4ths support in Congress and in state legislatures to pass this. I'"m certain the people [Republican, independent, Democrat, Libertarian] would ALL support this. It would provide a counterbalance to the motivations that gerry-mandered districts provide. I'll bet when enough of those Republican Congressmen can't pay a bill from their $175K salary, and it wouldn't take many of them to crack to force action instead of gridlock. Mr. Obama, Ronald Reagan would do this under these circumstances. Let it be part of your legacy to make Congress more responsive to the people. It woulds also improve the Democrats "brand".

    October 16, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Ronnie Rice

    When we keep going from crisis to crisis ALL Americans LOSE!

    October 16, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. cumulus

    Well stated observer, tired of SMH in disbelief

    October 16, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. buongiorno

    nothing surprises me just look at your selves

    October 16, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. NC2012

    To; The Observer THANKS 🙂 well said ~ Let us start with NC Dist 11 and remove MARK MEADOWS 🙂 ~ time to go home Mark go back to building houses..

    October 16, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Katie Roncker

    You betcha... get rid of all the congressional clowns! Vote them out next term. Not one of them is smarter than a 5th grader.

    October 16, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Rep. Rigell(R) came to his senses and called for the end of the shutdown, but that was only after he got chewed out by the thousands of military/government employees in his district. My thing is, he should have been listening to his constituents rather than playing partisan politics. I didn't vote for him last time and I won't be voting for him next year.

    R.I.P.G.O.P. 11/14

    October 16, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. NameLorraine Hutson

    I want to know why the president has not submitted a budget to congress in 4 yrs. the congressional budget act of 1974 requires the president to submit to congress by the first Monday in february each year. How can he get away without submitting a budget?

    October 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Romney is STILL NOT My Hero

    "After the current confrontation ends, voters could easily return to their default partisan positions...
    This is exactly what keeps me up at night. I hope that people will actually learn from this and vote according to what the candidates stand for instead of doing "auto votes" along party lines.

    October 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. annoyed

    1. We have term limits - it's called elections.
    2. I would like to know what percentage of democratic voters want their representatives out. 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.

    October 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. NC2012

    Wow can anyone believe the confederate flags outside the White House and those who threatened OUR POTUS? isn't that illegal to threaten our President telling him to come out with his hands up? NUTS People are NUTS Tea Party must go ~ maybe they can go further south to another country... I would help them pack...

    Thank you President Obama for standing with the American People !!!

    October 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    No need to take such extreme measures. Just throw the immature and irresponsible Republican Tea Partiers out of office.

    October 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. O'drama ya Mama

    I tend to disagree with this. All of the tea party that got voted into office in 2010 is the problem with Congress. Nearly every single senator and house rep that was there before 2010 are acting rather reasonably. If we continue to elect freshman senators and house reps we will continue to create a dysfunctional Congress. It was these 2010 freshman that could not sit back and learn from their elders. They thought by jumping into the spotlight they would create a new Congress and they did just not a better Congress. Many may disagree with me but try looking at it from that perspective and you may understand my point.

    October 16, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. Ellen

    After the meanness of a Steve Pearce Twitter (GOP/NM) which he says came from a staff member, I can tell you many of us will work whole heartedly to remind the public of how little he listened to his constituents. Many suffered because of his inability to cross lines.

    October 16, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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