Congressional approval has never been lower and incumbent anti-re-election sentiment higher.
Congressional approval began its latest descent in July as the debt ceiling gridlock dominated the media. It continued during the collapse of the House and Senate Super Committee negotiations and became a national and international statement of political futility as the Senate and House bypassed each other with legislation and the President Obama mostly won on points by focusing on assigning blame.
Generally speaking, the public states it wants compromise. Sixty percent of national adults wanted the Super Committee to agree to a compromise. Even 55 percent of Republicans said they wanted a compromise. Of course, 42 percent didn’t, and 53 percent of Tea Party members said hold out, and they are most likely to show up at Republican caucuses and primaries.
The payroll tax cut was popular and the administration framed it in their favor. Republicans gave up to cut their losses. Obama’s approval numbers have improved. He ended the year at 47 percent in the year’s last Gallup poll.
As the election year begins, will voters translate this disgust with the national political process by voting incumbents out? Although historically a majority of voters have told pollsters they are planning to vote against incumbents, they still send the vast majority of U.S. congressmen back to the House – the “my Congressman exception.”
Voters’ options are to vote against the incumbent President’s party as they did in 2010, vote against all incumbents reflecting their general disdain or vote mostly against Republicans as the party of gridlock as the President prefers.
A new Pew poll (December 15, 2011) argues that incumbents, specifically the Republican majority, could be voted out of office. The President and Democrats are apparently gaining same traction in blaming Republicans for the Washington impasse.
The presidential election may be an even more potent factor in congressional elections this year as President Obama runs on his “do nothing Congress” theme.
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