Gallup: Bad year for incumbents

posted at 10:55 am on April 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday morning, the news from Gallup was rather subtle.  Their latest survey showed a dead heat on the generic Congressional ballot between Democrats and Republicans, with only the enthusiasm gap giving indications of midterm troubles for Democrats.  By the late afternoon, Gallup had a warning of epic disaster for incumbents:

A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

The trend for previous midterm elections reveals that the 28% re-elect figure puts the sitting majority party in a danger zone. In the two recent midterm elections in which the congressional balance of power changed (1994 and 2006), the percentage of voters saying most members deserved to be re-elected fell below 40%, as it does today. By contrast, in 1998 and 2002, when the existing Republican majority was maintained, 55% or better held this view.

Additionally, 65% of registered voters — the highest in Gallup history, and by far the highest in any recent midterm year — now say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.

This strong rebuke of congressional incumbents comes from a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup survey. The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election.

How bad are these results?  Consider the numbers from Gallup in 1994, on the eve of the last midterms that Democrats lost a majority.  They had survived a 58% peak of incumbent rejection two years earlier, but lost over 5o seats in 1994 with a 49/37 split in favor of tossing incumbents.

That twelve-point split looks like a slice of heaven in retrospect.  Now it’s more than three times as large at 37 points, 65/28.  Moreover, it appears that Democrats fundamentally misread their previous successes.  In 2006, they won the majorities when the anti-incumbent fervor peaked again at 52/38, but that actually plateaued for the next two years.  As in 1992, Democrats got rescued in the election by a popular, charismatic presidential contender.  Since gaining complete control in 2009, their radical agenda has created a huge backlash against incumbents.

What may be worse, independents are almost identical to Republicans in wanting to clean house.  The split goes to 72/25 among unaffiliated voters, not far off from the 83/13 of Republicans.  Democrats hardly have enthusiasm for incumbents, either, only preferring them over generic challengers by a 46/41 margin.

Gallup says that these results are “like nothing Gallup has seen in the past four midterm election cycles.”  The results of this anti-incumbent anger could also be something we’ve not seen before, either, or at least not since 1994.


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Lets lock up the arsonists after our house is engulfed in flames…

Nice work 52%.

DavidM on April 8, 2010 at 10:58 AM

From your lips to God’s ear, my friend.

Midas on April 8, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Gallup says that these results are “like nothing Gallup has seen in the past four midterm election cycles.” The results of this anti-incumbent anger could also be something we’ve not seen before, either, or at least not since 1994.

What I wouldn’t give to see the Dems lose 60-80 seats in November. And Pelosi forced to hand that massive gavel over to Boehner.

Doughboy on April 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM

What may be worse, independents are almost identical to Republicans in wanting to clean house.

A lot of the “independents” are just Republicans too embarrassed to be associated with the Republicans…

ninjapirate on April 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Change.

BPD on April 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM

We elect socialists. We get socialism. Why is anyone surprised?

Cicero43 on April 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Even my liberal son said that it’s “good” that Boxer is facing a challenge, citing that no congressperson should be automatically reelected.

I took that comment to mean: BIG trouble.

AnninCA on April 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM

I soooooo can’t wait till November….I got the shakes.

royzer on April 8, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Bad news for incumbents, good news for America…finally.

Now if we could get that supermajority and reverse HCR.

wordsmithy2009 on April 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Like cleaning old style fabric diapers, dunk,rinse,flush and repeat.

thomasaur on April 8, 2010 at 11:09 AM

November will be referred to in Democratic history as “The Blood Bath”. Damn those ‘rednecks’!

Wonder how many up for re-election will protest when ballots come out and they don’t want the word INCUMBENT next to their name.

GarandFan on April 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Let’s not replace them with their clones.

Disturb the Universe on April 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

A lot of the “independents” are just Republicans too embarrassed to be associated with the Republicans…

ninjapirate on April 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Any evidence to back up this statement?

LastRick on April 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

This waiting for November is driving me crazy, I am on the edge of my seat…

OmahaConservative on April 8, 2010 at 11:13 AM

My own Congressman,
Leonard Lance, NJ-7
Does not deserve it.

But against a Donk,
I’ll crawl over broken glass
To vote him back in.

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 11:14 AM

I feel a Temper Tantrum coming on…

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

We elect socialists. We get socialism. Why is anyone surprised?
Cicero43 on April 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

The National party of Socialists only admitted that fact after the election when we couldn’t do anything about it – hopefully we will be able to do something about it in November.

Chip on April 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

I hate to wish time away but damn I wish it were November already. Can’t wait to see what botox looks like when the shock sets in.

farright on April 8, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Any evidence to back up this statement?

A bunch of news stories were done on this phenomenon during the 08 election…

ninjapirate on April 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Isn’t the flames burning large, will there be anything left by the time the firemen arrive?

tarpon on April 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Let’s not replace them with their clones.
Disturb the Universe on April 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

You’ve got that right.

Or maybe it should be: Let’s not replace them with RINOS.

Chip on April 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

The problem is that people seem to be talking about all of those other incumbents, not their own.

Muledriver on April 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

And Obama’s slipping again at Rasmussen, back to -14.

I love it when he slips.

EnglishMike on April 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

The problem is that people seem to be talking about all of those other incumbents, not their own.

Muledriver on April 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Indeed.. Other than me.. I loathe Sheila Jackson Lee and I have to be tormented in my district.. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get rid of her here..

Zippy_Slug on April 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM

A bunch of news stories were done on this phenomenon during the 08 election…

ninjapirate on April 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

I’m assuming you’re referring to people that voted for McCain but refused to call themselves GOP. Yes, that happened during the ’08 election. But your original statement (a lot of independents are just Republicans) is disingenuous then because the studies I’ve seen show that the moderate/independent voters, when asked which way they lean, also split down the middle conservative/liberal. Which would imply then that a lot of independents are just Democrats too embarrassed to be associated with the Democrats.

LastRick on April 8, 2010 at 11:22 AM

Now if we could get that supermajority and reverse HCR.wordsmithy2009 on April 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Mathematically impossible in the senate, but I bet you will see some dems willing to join in on the vote.

Vashta.Nerada on April 8, 2010 at 11:23 AM

The problem is that people seem to be talking about all of those other incumbents, not their own.

Muledriver on April 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Not necessarily true. A recent poll showed that voters wanted their own representative reelected at 49% IIRC; this was only the second time it was ever under 50%. Which means, the voters are slowly getting it: their own representative is part of the problem too.

LastRick on April 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM

About the best news I’ve heard all week.

JamesLee on April 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM

November is going to be interesting. The people who ran out and voted during the presdiential election who never voted before are more than likely to stay home. (most of which will still be calling the insurance companies looking for that free Obamacare). The good thing about November is, the people who are “tuned in” to what has been happening will be at the ballot box and will be making an educated vote.

milwife88 on April 8, 2010 at 11:31 AM

The National party of Socialists only admitted that fact after the election when we couldn’t do anything about it – hopefully we will be able to do something about it in November.

Chip on April 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

As far as congress critters go, you’re right, but not Obama.

He told everyone what he was going to do as president and all of his questionable associations were known. Many of us were warning of the impending disaster of his agenda.

Got run over by The Hope and Change Express!

donh525 on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

November will be referred to in Democratic history as “The Blood Bath”. Damn those ‘rednecks’!

GarandFan on April 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM

“The Great Misunderstanding.”

Kafir on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

And Pelosi forced to hand that massive gavel over to Boehner.

Doughboy on April 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM

This needs to be carried live across all cable news networks. I will take the day off just to be in front of the TV for this glorious moment, seeing Queen Nanzi deposed at last.

NoLeftTurn on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

We elect socialists. We get socialism. Why is anyone surprised?

Cicero43 on April 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I, for one, am not surprised, and doubt many on here are. Most of us knew what Obama was and most probably didn’t vote for him. So I like to think “we” didn’t elect him; however, we are stuck with the results of the 52% idiot vote that did. What I am surprised at, though, is the speed of his implementation of so much of his agenda. I don’t know if it is possible to undo it all if we ever get the chance. Their smug, seemingly uncaring, attitude about re-election makes me wonder what shenanigans they have up their sleeve for the upcoming elections.

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 11:34 AM

This needs to be carried live across all cable news networks. I will take the day off just to be in front of the TV for this glorious moment, seeing Queen Nanzi deposed at last.

NoLeftTurn on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Make sure to watch it on MSDNC. We may literally see someone’s head explode.

Doughboy on April 8, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Boy, the gap really seemed to widen after 2006.

What happened in 2006?

cntrlfrk on April 8, 2010 at 11:38 AM

And Pelosi forced to hand that massive gavel over to Boehner.

Doughboy on April 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM

That is going to be sweet! I imagine Boehner pulling out a can of lysol to decontaminate it.

farright on April 8, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Then again, the largest numbers indicate that their own Congress-critter deserves re-election.

As they say, all politics are local.

cntrlfrk on April 8, 2010 at 11:42 AM

The National party of Socialists only admitted that fact after the election when we couldn’t do anything about it – hopefully we will be able to do something about it in November.
Chip on April 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

As far as congress critters go, you’re right, but not Obama.
He told everyone what he was going to do as president and all of his questionable associations were known. Many of us were warning of the impending disaster of his agenda.
Got run over by The Hope and Change Express!
donh525 on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Yes, that was true – but it was virtually covered up by the NSM.

They just parroted the Hopenchange mantra like good little propagandists and uninformed people filled in the blanks.

Chip on April 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Seeing how 83% of Republicans want to throw out the incumbents, they’re probably talking about DEMOCRAT incumbents controlling Congress, not necessarily their own incumbent if he/she’s a Republican.

Republican incumbents can run on “I’m from the party of no (Socialism)” and proud of it!!!

With better than 2-to-1 (65-27) wanting to “throw the bums out”, Republican challengers need to feed this fire till November, with a new Contract with America, starting with repealing ObamaCare. Forty seats is DEFINITELY possible with this kind of anger, 50 or 60 are more likely.

Burn, baby, burn!!!

Steve Z on April 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM

And Pelosi forced to hand that massive gavel over to Boehner.

Doughboy on April 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM

I’d support the one time expense to purchase a new gavel as the one Madam Speaker is using has been tainted. Throw it out and start anew.

wordsmithy2009 on April 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM

I don’t know if it is possible to undo it all if we ever get the chance. Their smug, seemingly uncaring, attitude about re-election makes me wonder what shenanigans they have up their sleeve for the upcoming elections.

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 11:34 AM

We need to do more than take back Congress. Every single Democrat in Congress has to go, from Pelosi on down. There should be no such thing as a “Safe District” in this election. Every Democrat should feel the heat.

For instance, in the NJ-6th, Frank Pallone (D) is running for re-election in a district that was carried by Chris Christie (R) in the NJ Governor’s race just last Fall. And yet Pallone is “assumed” to be in a safe district.

We need to challenge these assumptions.

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

BTW, Christie won Pallone’s district by a whopping 15.5% margin!

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Throw them all out. Most of them are arrogant, from all sides of the isle. Fortunately there are more lefties to discard.

Schadenfreude on April 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM

We elect socialists. We get socialism. Why is anyone surprised?

Cicero43 on April 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

NO surprise here. Our people are pretty naive and stupid. However, right now they are scared, for themselves and their progeny. This gang of thugs might have instinctively awakened the populace to save itself.

Schadenfreude on April 8, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Gallup says that these results are “like nothing Gallup has seen in the past four midterm election cycles.” The results of this anti-incumbent anger could also be something we’ve not seen before, either, or at least not since 1994.

and the hurricane gathers…..

ted c on April 8, 2010 at 12:09 PM

They should all go. Every single one of them. Congress created the financial crisis, supported Wall St, Fannie and Freddie then bailed them out with our money.

If anyone has been listening to Rubin and Prince testify about their involvement, they are two of the dumbest smart dumb guys I’ve ever seen. The bottom line is that all parties are in it for the money. All of them. We’re just considered to be an endless piggy bank, and none of them care about what’s going on out here.

They’re all lying.

Cody1991 on April 8, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

I totally agree with you. And on the subject of everyone thinking their own Congress person deserves re-election, up until a few days ago I would have been one of them. But after (my) Senator Coburn made his dumb-a$$ statements about what a nice lady Nancy Pelosi is, I wrote and told him that making statements like that showed he was part of the problem. Also, told him that if really thinks that, then the country is in deeper trouble than I thought. Also, that his good friend, Obama, Nancy, and Harry are evil, that they are dismantling our country and all we stand for at warp speed, and if he can’t see that, then he is naive and/or not as well informed as a lot of us out here. I’m sure I’ll eventually get the usual form letter back. But the point is, as good as he has been on health care and many other issues, with the statements he made, I feel he needs to go. If they don’t see that we are at war with these people for our very survival as a country, and that either we win or they do, there’s not much hope. That’s just my own opinion.

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM

There are complacent and non-fiscally responsible incumbents on BOTH sides of the aisle that need to be swept up like so much trash and thrown out the door. The bitter medicine must be taken to restore the Republic back to the Consent of the Governed. These economic illiterates and those that have ignored their Oaths to the Constitution need to be thinned out from the herd.

Incumbency is not “tenure” in a contractual sense nor should it Make any seat safe or sacred. Vote those undeserving rascals out in November because the Republic is worth saving.

old trooper2 on April 8, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Party like it’s 1994?

Naa. Party like it’s 1946

J_Crater on April 8, 2010 at 12:16 PM

It will all turn in the Dems favor once the American people learn what’s in the euphoric Health Care bundle from heaven.

I recomment that Obama give some speeches to explain it.

It should be a landslide for incumbents.

notagool on April 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM

I emailed Coburn also about the stupid remarks but it will not do any good. I would like to see a fire breathing conservative primary challenger to retire Coburn to his niceness.

farright on April 8, 2010 at 12:21 PM

farright on April 8, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Good for you! I hope he heard from a lot of people, and was glad to see it mentioned here on HA. I don’t even know when he is up for re-election, but he may not run again. It seems I remember something about him last time term-limiting himself, but I could be mistaken.

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Good, get rid of every Democrat and RINO in one fell swoop.

Hope and change.

NoDonkey on April 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I love that Rush is now calling the Obama administration a “regime”!

silvernana on April 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I am telling everyone I know that this could be the last election in which taxpayers are a majority. We had damn well better vote and elect a Congress that will protect us before it’s too late. I’m surprised at the positive reaction I get when I say this to people. Most taxpayers really don’t watch the news and they have no idea how close we are to the tipping point.

Our job between now and November is to educate as many people as we can about the stakes in this election. We don’t need to even mention any candidates. Just make people aware of the facts and they will vote the right way on their own.

rockmom on April 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM

They’re all lying.

Cody1991 on April 8, 2010 at 12:12 PM

To be sure. What has happened in the last 18 months is a travesty. Running up that level of debt and turning the country into a socialist regime is unforgivable. Throw all those bums out.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Between now and November, watch for a MAJOR effort to grant existing illegals AMNESTY. Then, when they all register as Demodonks, there will be no American representation in that Great Little Whorehouse on the Potomac.

As American citizens, do we have standing to begin a Class-Action Law Suit against Obamacare and pending Obamanesty?

SeniorD on April 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Let’s not replace them with their clones.

Disturb the Universe on April 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

We will. Power corrupts, and it will corrupt the new crew of Republicans if we manage to elect them. And then we’ll have to replace them.

Bobbertsan on April 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I love it. You can see the seething hatred of Democrats and squishy RINOs all throughout that poll.

Sultry Beauty on April 8, 2010 at 1:51 PM

I can’t wait to vote my congressman Bart Stupak not only out of office, but out of the country!

flytier on April 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM

I would love to vote Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin out of office, but unfortunately there are too many morons residing in Southwest Michigan for that to every happen. Levin will be the next Robert Byrd…

flytier on April 8, 2010 at 4:25 PM

“The Great Misunderstanding.”

Kafir on April 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

LOL, yes indeed. “We just didn’t explain our Marxist incineration of America to the untermensch quite well enough.”

Django on April 8, 2010 at 5:15 PM