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

    My Senators (Warren and Markey) and Representative (Neal) have been waiting for Boehner to grow a spine and kick the Tea Party fanatics to the curb. America does NOT need to be held hostage by 30 lunatics who care more about Ayn Rand and a promise to Grover Norquist than they do about their oath of office.

    October 16, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Teeno

    I'm going to do everything I can come time to vote to see there is a total change of leadership in the congress. I wish terms of office were limited to two like they are with the President. Washington is rotten with entrenched special interests.

    October 16, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Workhard03

    Can you imagine if Barry spend a lot Obama had dems running the house??? O wait that happened already. That's why we are here!!! We are spending too much!! Wake up.

    October 16, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I am amazed at those who think that the entire congress should be voted out because the Tea Bag minority controlled the spineless speaker and tried to sink our country into chaos. Vote out that faction, keep the Gop members who tried to act responsibly and the democrats that were unable to do anything because the speaker would not stand up to these teabag nuts.

    October 16, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. Daniella

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

    October 16, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. T. Sinha

    Rumer has it that, Ted Cruz is so ashamed of himself that he decided not only not to block the voting, but also he may not even run for senate in the next election.

    October 16, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. gman11

    Absolutely will be voting out Republicans Senators and Congresman from Ga,Phil Gingrey,Tom Graves and others are on the way out,not another single teabagger will get elected with my vote. I will still vote Republican,just non affiliated with that party or its supporters. I have had enough of thier crap for a lifetime

    October 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. mike

    If the Isreal government cannot pass a budget within six months, they have automatic elections. Why can't we have something like this? It would put a stop to some of this nonsense.

    October 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. dubw

    Toss the idiots out. Walter B Jones has done everything in his power to appease the fanatics, now its time for a sensible representative.

    October 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. not hienuf

    The term Congress means to gather. With the age of the internet why can't we vote for ourselves? Just get an agreed upon forum, pose the question, list relative arguments and cast our votes electronically and securely.

    October 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. notahistorianbut

    In addition to term limits, something like pay for performance, pay penalties for putting party before country, no midnight rule game changes (i.e.that eliminates the ability of any house member to call a bill to the floor (last action of angst); no refusal to a vote on any bill presented to the house or senate. Neither house or senate is allowed to refuse budget conference and/or negotiations – if a bill is received its worked. It may be voted down, but at least it'd eliminate the THEY'RE NOT NEGOTIATING WHINING FITS of late. Pay revoked for dereliction of duty, incompetence, etc. If the 12 appropriation bills have not been conferenced/negotiated/signed by 10/1 of every year – NONE of them get paid. I'd love to see, not only the loss of pay, but maybe hit them harder by charging THEM for every day/month they do not do their jobs.

    October 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Jesse

    Two things may happen either the Tea Party gets booted or the rest of the moderate Republicans get booted out and replaced with tea party guys. It's really hard to replace a Republican with a Democrat or vice versa. I know I would have a really hard time voting for a democrat because I just don't agree with anything they push.

    October 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. buffalo

    I live in Hawaii. My elected "representative", Tulsi Gabbard, was one of the first to return her paycheck in protest against the foolish and juvenile behavior of some of the older and more firmly entrenched old lizards. Old or young, it's not about you or your chances to keep your nose in the trough, it's doing what you were elected to do.

    October 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Jack

    I agree with Mr. Frank, it's past the time to have a surplus and owe nothing to other Countries. It's also time to "throw the bums out"! All 535 of them. Install term limits, cap election spending and limit the outrageous benefit packages for congressional retirees! It's time for successful retired business professionals to step up to the plate and run for the congressional seats for a two to four year term (max), then step aside and have the next contingent of retired professionals fill those positions.

    October 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Anon

    The Tea Party is a political toxin

    October 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "I want to know why the president has not submitted a budget to congress in 4 yrs."

    I want to know why you are so ignorant that you think he hasn't. He has. Moreover, the Senate and House both passed their own budgets in April. The Senate, led by the Dems, has offered to go to conference on those budget NINETEEN (19) times and the House, controlled by the GOP/Teatrolls, has refused every single time. We don't have a budget because the GOP/Teatrolls don't want one. Why would they want a budget if keeping one from being enacted allows them to threaten a gov't shutdown every 3 months in hopes it gets them some ransom?

    October 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Larry L

    @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,...
    Republicans in the Senate have filibustered every initiative, including McConnell's famous filibuster of his own proposal! Republicans in the House voted with the Tea Party and never offered anything but toxic legislation. Republicans offered nothing to replace Obamacare but tried to kill it anyway. Why does the movement to throw Republicans out "amaze" you? They are the ones holding America's prosperity hostage!

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

    The Congress needs a good enema!!!! They need to do away with all the MONEY influences in DC and every state with people seeking public office. Heritage Action telling congress to vote NO-–this should be illegal as hell!!!!!!!!!
    Also, Congress needs to be in DC doing the nations business. Maybe one month out of the year at home time out. Why was congress home all of August and part of September? There was plenty of work to do in DC and now the American people are paying the price.!!!!!!!!!

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

    We haven't had enough yet. Mid January it will be an early ground hog day. Let's wait for the next round of obstruction. This is yet another reason for economic turmoil.

    October 16, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Phil Boroff

    It is not the time to throw out ANY lawmaker, but it is certainly to time to throw out ALL Tea Baggers. I cannot call them "lawmakers," for they are merely nothing more than uneducated, unintelligent obstructionists. Sadly, because of gerrymandering, they will probably maintain their offices when they should not. What ever happened to a democracy that works for everyone, not just for some?

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

    Voters have a short memory and focus more on the local race. This will be old news by then.

    October 16, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Every single Republican needs to be thrown out. I am livid that they think they can hold our country hostage for the sake of their own pitiful agenda. They are spiteful, hateful, narrow minded prejudice people who do not represent me! I usually vote for the person, not the party and I am an Independent. I can promise you that I will not vote for anyone who has an R by their name.

    October 16, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. Ann

    We'll soon forget.

    October 16, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. 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!!!!!

    October 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. Tom Sickler

    Vote out the Tea Baggers. We all know the Tea Party is just a Koch Brothers by-product. If you don't you have been living under a rock or are one of the many un-educated Teabillies out there. Look before you leap folks. Greed and corruption feed on stupidity...which we certainly have an abundance of in this country. Look at your elected officials and if they have not been representing your interests, vote them out.

    October 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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