Politics: Video

Obama: Bin Laden Killed

Add to Briefcase
May 1, 2011, 8:57 p.m.

A Fox News poll; con­duc­ted 10/9 by Pulse Opin­ion Re­search (IVR); sur­veyed 1,000 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.1% (re­lease, 10/12). Party ID break­down: 38%D, 38%R, 24%I. Note: Pulse Opin­ion Re­search uses “meth­od­o­logy and pro­ced­ures li­censed from” Rasmussen Re­ports (IVR).

Obama As POTUS

- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom 10/2 9/25 9/18 9/11 Ap­prove 33% 67% 6% 23% 30% 36% 38% 39% 38% 39% Dis­ap­prove 58 18 92 69 66 52 56 54 57 55

(For more from this poll, please see today’s OH SEN and OH GOV stor­ies.)

The ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post and CNN/Opin­ion Re­search na­tion­al polls re­leased this week that show Con­gress’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing drop­ping to re­cord low levels are barely cre­at­ing a ripple — be­cause the news is not new. With the ex­cep­tion of the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of ex­traordin­ary events like 9/11, the pub­lic routinely holds Con­gress in, as they say, “min­im­um high re­gard.” But now, the new norm is re­cord lows. Both polls showed that up­wards of eight of 10 Demo­crats, Re­pub­lic­ans, and in­de­pend­ents alike dis­ap­prove of the in­sti­tu­tion — an in­stance of rare agree­ment for three such dis­par­ate groups.

What is new is that in re­cent months, the long-held dis­tinc­tion between how voters see Con­gress over­all and how they view their own mem­bers of Con­gress seems to be di­min­ish­ing as well. An NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al sur­vey in Au­gust found that 54 per­cent of re­spond­ents would choose the op­tion (if it were on the bal­lot) to de­feat every single mem­ber of Con­gress, in­clud­ing their own. Only 41 per­cent would not do so. Now, routinely, when voters are giv­en the choice of reelect­ing their own (un­named) mem­ber of Con­gress or choos­ing to “give a new per­son a chance,” ma­jor­it­ies opt for the lat­ter.

One of the more un­for­tu­nate trends in re­cent years has been that Wash­ing­ton and the polit­ic­al world have in­creas­ingly looked at polit­ics and policy on a single lat­er­al par­tis­an or ideo­lo­gic­al plane, without con­sid­er­ing oth­er pos­sibly im­port­ant di­men­sions. Too many view everything on a left-right ideo­lo­gic­al ax­is or on a Demo­crat­ic-Re­pub­lic­an plane, view­ing every is­sue or de­vel­op­ment as a zero-sum game. If we can make the oth­er side look bad on this is­sue or sub­ject, we will look bet­ter, they reas­on.

Polit­ic­al op­er­at­ives and re­port­ers, cable polit­ic­al shows, and In­ter­net blogs tend to feed this tend­ency. Mem­bers of Con­gress gamely go along with it. Little ap­pre­ci­ation ex­ists for how much these at­tacks dam­age the in­sti­tu­tions or the pro­cess. Law­makers seem un­aware that they are also in­flict­ing dam­age on them­selves. The cu­mu­lat­ive im­pact of this mu­tu­ally as­sured de­struc­tion is that con­gres­sion­al ser­vice that used to be viewed back home as a ped­es­tal may start look­ing like a ditch; the ad­vant­age of in­cum­bency, in oth­er words, can be­come a dis­ad­vant­age.

When the Gal­lup Poll tal­lied up its 20,392 in­ter­views over the 2011 cal­en­dar year, it found that a re­cord 40 per­cent of adults called them­selves in­de­pend­ents. By com­par­is­on, just 31 per­cent iden­ti­fied them­selves as Demo­crats and 27 per­cent as Re­pub­lic­ans. Those people in polit­ics should con­sider how in­de­pend­ents re­act to this tow­el-snap­ping. Par­tis­an at­tacks and jock­ey­ing for a bet­ter po­s­i­tion may earn ap­prov­al from a party’s ad­her­ents. But the re­ac­tion of in­de­pend­ents is something else: They take a dim view of com­batants on both sides. Also note­worthy is that while Demo­crats hold a 4-point edge in over­all party iden­ti­fic­a­tion, when in­de­pend­ents are asked which way they lean, more of them point to­ward the Re­pub­lic­an Party than to the Demo­crat­ic Party — a new de­vel­op­ment as well. The Gal­lup “leaned party iden­ti­fic­a­tion” is now dead even at 45 per­cent, mean­ing that 45 per­cent call them­selves Demo­crats or lean that way, with an identic­al per­cent­age tilt­ing to­ward the GOP. The re­main­ing 10 per­cent are “pure” in­de­pend­ents. It’s a safe as­sump­tion that this 10 per­cent takes a dim view of both parties and both cham­bers of Con­gress.

Of course, so many dis­tricts are drawn so par­tis­anly that it takes a fer­tile ima­gin­a­tion to come up with a scen­ario in which many in­cum­bents lose reelec­tion. But that list of mem­bers who can pretty much do whatever they want shifts a bit from one dec­ade to an­oth­er as new lines kick in after re­dis­trict­ing. We will un­doubtedly see more com­pet­it­ive con­gres­sion­al races in Cali­for­nia in 2012 than in the en­tire last dec­ade be­cause an in­de­pend­ent com­mis­sion drew the lines, for­cing some mem­bers to clean off the cob­webs on their polit­ic­al or­gan­iz­a­tions, to the ex­tent that they still have or­gan­iz­a­tions, back home. Oth­ers may be fa­cing a fresh set of con­stitu­ents. Will voters see their new mem­bers of Con­gress in the same way that they saw the old ones, par­tic­u­larly if they know next to noth­ing about them?

Will one-fourth of all House mem­bers seek­ing reelec­tion lose either their primary or gen­er­al elec­tions this year? Ab­so­lutely not. Will a fifth? Prob­ably not, giv­en that the Vi­tal Stat­ist­ics on Con­gress re­ports that the House’s low­est reelec­tion rate in the past half-cen­tury was 86.6 per­cent in 1962. But we could see about a tenth of in­cum­bents lose, an un­usu­ally high turnover rate, with some losses at­trib­ut­able to re­dis­trict­ing and oth­ers to the de­teri­or­at­ing en­vir­on­ment for in­cum­bents. While a tenth of all in­cum­bents seek­ing reelec­tion los­ing doesn’t sound like a dis­aster, it is cata­stroph­ic for the mem­bers (and their staffs) who come up short.

The big­ger toll, however, may be the grow­ing re­luct­ance of able men and wo­men to run for Con­gress. Al­though the House and Sen­ate will nev­er lack for am­bi­tious people seek­ing seats, will the caliber match that of the past? How many good people will opt not to seek a seat in an in­sti­tu­tion that has taken such a bat­ter­ing? Since the mid-‘80s, Con­gress has taken a furi­ous pound­ing, from with­in. How will that dam­age ul­ti­mately mani­fest it­self? The an­swer is not en­tirely clear, but no doubt it will.

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
3 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login