Friday, April 09, 2010

Congressional Backlash in 2010?

image:: Gallup poll results for Congressional re-election, 1992-2010

The doomsayers are out expecting carnage in this fall's US midterm election. HuffPo is reporting that the above Gallup polls reflect an anti-incumbency sentiment and refer to 1994 and 2006, two midterms with dramatic overturnings for the Democrats and Republicans, respectively, as evidence of this.

The fact of the matter is that incumbents, i.e., those already sitting in office, have a tremendous advantage, even in 1994 and 2006. This has been cited as a cause of Congressional stagnation. I don't have the breakdown of incumbents by party, but I don't expect huge deviations from the trend of incumbents willing at the rate of high-80s to mid-90%s.

Looking at the numbers, I'm not buying the argument. In 1994 and 2006, the attitudes-towards-congress were 49% and 52%, which resulted in a total loss of seats in both the House and Senate of 62 and 36, respectively. In 2002, the attitude-towards-Congress {support for re-election} was 57% for a Republican-controlled House and Senate, which resulted in a pickup of 10 seats. I'm not seeing a magical discontinuous tipping point at 53-56% support for re-election. Moreover, in 1998, the attitudes-towards-Congress were relatively high for a Republican-controlled House and Senate—they lost 5 seats.

The Monkeycage has an interesting graphic that used CNN data from earlier in the year::

In ten years, voters dislike Congress as an institution much more and are supporting their representative much less.

My initial thoughts are that Congressional dissatisfaction isn't always acted upon and it interacts with attitudes-towards-the-President and the political zeitgeist. In 1994, Newt Gingrich was offering an alternative and the Republican party was cohesive and organized. In 2006, the Republican coalition of social and fiscal conservatives was breaking down and the party started to lose the support of moderates. The Democrats need to credibly address the key issue:: the economy and the Republicans need to craft a solid strategy like they did in 1994. Barring these happening in a dramatic fashion, the Dems are likely to lose a few seats given the number of incumbents retiring, but expect the status quo.

Twitterversion:: Support for re-relecting members of Congress falls to 28%, but will this result in a landslide for Republicans? @Prof_K

Song:: Black Eyes Peas-'Where Is the Love'

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