Now that the State of the Union speech is out of the way, America can get down to the business of the mid-term election season. While the narrative surrounding the speech was that the President had to address his critics, the campaign trail is where Congress is going to address theirs. A recent poll from YouGov and The Huffington Post found “that most Americans don’t think that most members of Congress should be reelected.” This is great news for challengers and seems to have very little to do with their representatives’ political ties.
A recently released Gallup Poll shows similar results. For the first time since 1992, 46 percent of people polled said that their representative deserved to be reelected. Still, this is only two points lower than the previous record in 1993. Even more telling is the number of Americans who think “most members deserve re-election” which is also at a record-low of 17 percent. The previous nadir also came in 1993, but was twelve points higher than now.
These numbers are more drastic than even the 2010 mid-term election in which the Democrats lost the House of Representatives. Yet, where those mid-terms and the 2006 mid-term election in which the Democrats took the House differ from now is that the public animus closely followed party lines.
However, close to a quarter of the respondents to the YouGov poll don’t even know to which party their representative belongs. Instead, these numbers may suggest a general malaise amongst the electorate towards Congress as an entity. Voters may simply want “fresh blood” in Congress and—if a “wave” of challengers win general elections—may be sending a message to politicians that Americans are finally tired of partisan chicanery.
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The largest fight in Congress has been—and still is—the implementation of the President’s health care plan, a fight that ultimately shut down the government. Each side played their expected partisan roles, but the shutdown and relative inaction from Congress may have brought about a tipping point. Earlier this summer, it seemed as if the GOP was in a good position to win back the Senate, but in these recent numbers challenge that idea.