Registered voters by 62-26 percent are inclined to look around for someone new for Congress rather than to re-elect their current representative–the broadest anti-incumbency on record in ABC/Post polls since 1989. Backing for incumbents has lost 11 points since February, an unusually steep decline.
This is historically bad news for incumbents, and since Democrats currently hold large majorities in both chambers, this is also bad for the Democratic Party. Voters have every reason to despise their current members of Congress. We have nearly 10 percent unemployment, no economic turnaround in sight, an overwhelming feeling that Washington is filled with corruption to benefit Wall Street at the expense of regular people, and a Senate stuck in endless gridlock, incapable of passing simple laws to help people.
That said, one of the poll questions receiving a lot of attention is too badly worded to be meaningful.
A year and a half into his presidency, 51 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll would rather have the Republicans run Congress “to act as a check on Obama’s policies,” vs. 43 percent who want the Democrats in charge to help support those policies.
The phrase “act as a check” is far too leading. We have the wisdom of our Constitution’s set of “checks and balances” hammered into us in school. We are universally taught that the words “checks” and “balances” as related to government are very good things. That’s skewing the poll. I think the question should have been a more accurate variation on one of these: “Would you rather Republicans run Congress to: block Obama’s policies, force Obama to abandon some of his policies or force Obama to change his priorities?”
The generic ballot question is more useful. Instead of using a loaded question and a vague reason, it asks voters who they are actually planning to vote for to control Congress. The poll found 47 percent of registered voters would select a Republican candidate, and 46 percent would choose a Democrat. This is still bad news for Democrats and an indication they will likely lose most of their majorities in November.
The only real silver lining for Democrats is that the Republican brand is still in terrible shape after eight years of George W. Bush. Few Americans really trust Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions for our country’s future. Only 26 percent have a great amount or good amount of confidence in Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions, compared with 32 percent for Congressional Democrats.