CONGRESS

Poll Shows Tough Landscape for Incumbents

Matthew Cooper
Add to Briefcase
Matthew Cooper
July 24, 2012, 5:20 p.m.

A strong plur­al­ity of Amer­ic­ans are seek­ing mem­bers of Con­gress who are more will­ing to com­prom­ise, but that im­pulse, so far at least, has not re­doun­ded to the be­ne­fit of either Mitt Rom­ney or Pres­id­ent Obama, ac­cord­ing to the latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll.

When asked wheth­er they would be more or less likely to vote for a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who “would make com­prom­ises with people he or she dis­agrees with,” a full 43 per­cent of re­spond­ents said they would be more likely to vote for that can­did­ate, while only 20 per­cent said they would be less likely. Some 34 per­cent said that it would make no dif­fer­ence.

By con­trast, back in May 2010, only 30 per­cent said that abil­ity to com­prom­ise would make a dif­fer­ence in how they de­cided to vote. That’s a 13-per­cent­age-point in­crease over the last two years.

When asked about the pres­id­en­tial race and reach­ing agree­ment with mem­bers of the oth­er party in Con­gress, Amer­ic­ans gave high­er marks to Obama. Forty-three per­cent said he would do a bet­ter job reach­ing agree­ment with the oth­er party, versus 33 per­cent for Rom­ney.  

Cleav­ages along ra­cial and party lines were gap­ing on this ques­tion. Non-His­pan­ic blacks were more than twice as likely as non-His­pan­ic whites to give a thumbs-up to Obama for be­ing best at find­ing agree­ment with the oth­er party. And a whop­ping 79 per­cent of Demo­crats saw Obama as bet­ter able to work across the aisle, while 73 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans said the same for Rom­ney. In­de­pend­ents split just bey­ond the poll’s mar­gin of er­ror, with 36 per­cent of them say­ing Obama would do bet­ter versus 32 per­cent for Rom­ney.

The res­ults of the sur­vey don’t bode par­tic­u­larly well for in­cum­bents. Only 14 per­cent of re­spond­ents said that they would be more likely to vote for an “in­cum­bent run­ning for reelec­tion.” That’s the same level of anti-in­cum­bent sen­ti­ment as two years ago, when voters ended Demo­crat­ic con­trol of the House.

Un­like 2010, however, there’s slightly less in­terest in elect­ing polit­ic­al neo­phytes. Back then, 24 per­cent of voters said that they would be more likely to vote for a can­did­ate who “has nev­er held elect­ive of­fice.” That’s down to 19 per­cent in the latest sur­vey, with a ma­jor­ity — 51 per­cent — say­ing pre­vi­ous of­fice­hold­ing ex­per­i­ence made no dif­fer­ence.

Does a new­found ap­pet­ite for can­did­ates who com­prom­ise be­ne­fit either Demo­crats or Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress who vow to help im­ple­ment their pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee’s agenda? The an­swers are de­cidedly mixed. Those polled were asked if they would be more likely to sup­port a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who sup­por­ted Obama or Rom­ney “most of the time.” Just 28 per­cent of voters said they would be more in­clined to back a can­did­ate who would vote in sup­port of Obama. That’s down a tick from earli­er this year, when 30 per­cent of voters said that might make them more likely to vote for a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate.

Rom­ney came in even lower, with only 18 per­cent of those sur­veyed say­ing that if a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate vowed to back a hy­po­thet­ic­al Pres­id­ent Rom­ney’s po­s­i­tion most of the time, they would be in­clined to vote for such a can­did­ate. Lar­ger plur­al­it­ies said that it wouldn’t mat­ter.

The Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll, con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, sur­veyed 1,001 adults by land­line and cell phone on Ju­ly 19-22. It has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.8 per­cent­age points. The poll is taken most weeks of the year when Con­gress is in ses­sion and is de­signed to give law­makers — as well as oth­er poli­cy­makers and the pub­lic — an in-depth look at where Amer­ic­ans stand on the most im­port­ant is­sues that are fa­cing Con­gress.

Dig­ging deep in­to the sur­vey res­ults re­veals a po­lar­ized elect­or­ate. On the ques­tion of wheth­er they’d be more likely to sup­port a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who backed Obama most of the time, only 3 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans felt that way, while only 5 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans were more fa­vor­ably in­clined to­ward a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who prom­ised to side with Rom­ney on is­sues most of the time. Among a group that has proved prob­lem­at­ic for Demo­crats — white men without a col­lege edu­ca­tion — 35 per­cent said that they would be less in­clined to back a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who sup­por­ted Obama. In­de­pend­ents were less likely to back a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate who sup­por­ted Obama than one who car­ried the flag for Rom­ney.

When 80 per­cent of those polled say that the two parties have “been bick­er­ing and op­pos­ing one an­oth­er more than usu­al,” that’s a dif­fi­cult en­vir­on­ment for either party to run in, es­pe­cially when 52 per­cent say that “there have been good ideas” but fights between the parties have “blocked needed gov­ern­ment ac­tion.”

On the oth­er hand, the poll gives politi­cians breath­ing room to com­prom­ise — a par­tic­u­larly im­port­ant gift to mem­bers as the Au­gust re­cess ap­proaches and the lame-duck ses­sion of Con­gress looms.

What We're Following See More »
THE PLAN ALL ALONG?
Manchin Drops Objections, Clearing Way for Spending Deal
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."

Source:
UNCLEAR WHAT CAUSED CHANGE OF HEART
Giuliani Out of Running For State
1 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.

Source:
ALSO VICE-CHAIR OF TRUMP’S TRANSITION TEAM
Trump Taps Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior Secretary
1 days ago
BREAKING
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

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