The two-year term requires new House members to start their fundraising for the next election as soon as they arrive in Washington. This winnows the pool of candidates — and not in a good way. “The skill of telemarketing does not translate very often into the skill of governing, so there are real implications for the kind of people you get on the other end,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), formerly of the House, observed last year.
And midterms aren’t exactly a display of democracy at its finest, given that far fewer voters turn out than in presidential years. For example, in the 2010 midterm elections, 89 million ballots were cast, compared with 129 million in 2012.
Yes, the founders believed that frequent elections would give House members, as James Madison put it, “immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people.” But there’s not much responsiveness to the public when more than 90 percent of House incumbents win their races.