As restive voters head to the polls
today in 11 states to set the table for the November elections, two new polls show a greater anti-incumbent mood in the nation than previous years when the public was unhappy, with many saying they are dissatisfied or angry with government and ready to dispense with current members of Congress.
Sixty percent of Americans say they are "inclined" to look around for another candidate when it comes to how they vote in this year's midterm elections, while 29 percent would re-elect their current representative, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll
conducted June 3-6.
That is tempered somewhat by the response Americans give when asked if they approve or disapprove of the way their current representative is doing his or her job. Forty-nine percent say they approve and 44 percent say they disapprove.
Similarly, newly released numbers from a USA Today/Gallup poll
of registered voters conducted May 24-25 says 60 percent would rather vote for a candidate who has never been in Congress compared to 32 percent who favored the incumbent, with 8 percent undecided. Sixty-three percent say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election, compared to 32 percent who say they do, the highest negative figure Gallup has recorded since 1992.
But 50 percent in the Gallup survey say their own representative deserves re-election, compared to 40 percent who do not believe that, although that is the lowest percentage to come down on the side of re-election since 1992.
In the Washington Post/ABC poll, 71 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing, compared to 63 percent in May 2006 -- when voter unhappiness with years of GOP rule helped the Democrats re-capture the House -- and 61 percent in June 1994, the year the Republicans took control
of the House for the first time since 1954.
The extent of voter unhappiness is not all good news for the Republicans. Six in 10 say they have a negative view of policies put forward by congressional Republicans and only a third trust them over the Democrats to tackle the nation's most important problems, according to the Post/ABC News poll.
And while the Tea Party movement has been scoring victories within the Republican Party, the poll says half of Americans have an unfavorable impression of it.
Forty-seven percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Democratic congressional candidate if the election were held today, while 44 percent would vote for the Republican. But 59 percent of those surveyed said they could change their minds or are undecided, with 26 percent of Democratic supporters and 24 percent of Republican backers in the category of those who could change their minds.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans in the Post/ABC poll said they were dissatisfied or angry with the way the government works, while 30 percent were enthusiastic or satisfied.
In the USA Today/Gallup poll, Republicans and independents were far more likely than Democrats to be in favor of a candidate who has never been in Congress. Seventy-one percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents felt that way, compared to 41 percent of Democrats. Forty-five percent of Democrats said they favored a candidate who had been in Congress.
"A stronger-than-usual anti-incumbent bias is another challenge for a majority Democratic Party that is trying to minimize the losses usually dealt to the president's party in a midterm election year," Gallup said. "[Election] day is still nearly five months away, but typically, voters' attitudes toward incumbents do not change dramatically over the course of an election year. To the extent change has occurred in a given election year, it has usually been toward a more negative rather than a more positive view of incumbents."
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