Americans long ago lost faith in Congress, but they historically were predisposed to give their own representative the benefit of the doubt. Not any more, though. For the first time in the 25-year history of the ABC News/Washington Post poll, a slim majority disapproves of the job their own member of Congress has been doing.
This poll found the public’s disapproval of their member rising to 51 percent with just 41 percent of the public approving of the job their representative has done in office. “That’s a new low, though it’s not significantly different from ratings last October (43 percent), immediately after the end of a 16-day partial government shutdown that sent Republican approval ratings through the floor,” The Post’s write up of the poll read.
This result is actually the continuation of a trend. While the ABC News/Washington Post survey did not ask respondents about their voting intentions in the fall, other surveys have found voters are growing more predisposed to tell pollsters that they believe their own member does not deserve reelection.
At the start of the year, Gallup found a record low number of voters, 46 percent, saying they believe their representative should be returned to Congress. Just 17 percent of the voting public thinks everyone else’s member of Congress should be replaced.
In 2011, CNN/ORC also found that, for the first time, only 41 percent of voters said that their member deserves to be sent back to Congress. “Never in modern times, through the financial crisis, the Iraq war, or Clinton’s scandals and impeachment, have American adults been quite this disgusted with their reps,” AllahPundit observed at the time.
What happened in 2012? 90 percent of House members and 91 percent of senators were sent back to Congress by their constituents.
Even in spite of a motivated base of change voters, the wave midterm election of 2010 only saw 85 percent of incumbent House members returned by their constituents. And that was an aberration; the last time the House incumbent retention rate was that low was in 1970.
While most analysts expect the 2014 midterm election cycle to take on a more anti-incumbent character than 2012 – and the polls indicate sustained, historic revulsion with Congress and its members – few political prognosticators are predicting a wave election along the lines of 2010 or 1970 (yet).
Even this historic ABC News/Washington Post poll, which found that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of their representative, also revealed that those who actually vote are far more forgiving of their member of Congress. Among registered voters, only 48 percent disapprove of the job their member has done while 46 percent approve of their representative – a gap well within this poll’s margin of error.
For all the sturm und drang reflected in the polls, don’t expect the bums to be thrown out any time soon.