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Redefining Rock Bottom: Another Scary Poll For Congress


By Adam Wollner

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's one of the oldest axioms in politics: Voters always say they want to "throw the bums out," except when it comes to their own representative. That's why the re-election rate for House members is typically over 90 percent.

Heading into the 2014 midterms, that long-standing rule appears to be holding true. But against the backdrop of the federal government shutdown, a potential default and general dysfunction in Washington, there are signs it's reaching a straining point.

According to a new Pew Research poll released Tuesday, anti-incumbency sentiment among voters is a high point — and even the local congressman isn't immune to the anger. A record-low 48 percent of registered voters want their own representative to win re-election in 2014, while 38 percent said they want to see their representative in Congress defeated — the highest percentage in more than two decades.

A record-high 74 percent of registered voters said most members of Congress should not be re-elected next year; just 18 percent of registered voters said most representatives should be re-elected.

In November 2009 ­— the most comparable point during the 2010 election cycle, when 58 incumbents lost re-election — 53 percent of those Pew surveyed thought most representatives should not be re-elected, while 52 percent thought their own representative deserved another term in Congress.

Pew found that Democrats were slightly more likely to say their representative should be re-elected (54 percent) than Republicans (47 percent) and independents (43 percent).

The poll was conducted during the second week of the shutdown from Oct. 9-13.

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