Findings: Congress Faces Record Public Discontent

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

04/26/2006 - The American public is angry with Congress, and this is bad news for the Republican Party. The belief that this Congress has accomplished less than its predecessors is markedly higher than at any point in the past nine years, and by a wide margin Republican leaders are blamed for this. Many more voters than in the recent past say the issue of partisan control of Congress will be a factor in their vote in November. And as has been the case since fall, voters are significantly more inclined to vote for Democrats than Republicans - by a 51% to 41% margin.

The public's strong appetite for change in Washington is seen both in the majority of voters who say they would like to see most members of Congress defeated in November (53%), and in the sizable minority who wants to see their representative turned out in the midterms (28%). Both measures reflect anti-incumbent sentiment not seen since late in the historic 1994 campaign, just before Republicans gained control of Congress. In recent elections, far fewer voters evinced a desire for change; in October 2002, just 38% said they did not want to see most members reelected and 19% said that about their own representative.

This national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted among 1,501 Americans from April 7-16, 2006, finds that the Democrats maintain a large advantage in voting intentions for the fall. The Democrats' current 10-point lead is little changed from February (50%-41%), but there has been only a handful of occasions since 1994 when either party has held such a sizable advantage in the congressional horse race.

As was the case in February, the Democrats' edge in the ballot test stems largely from its strength among independent voters. Roughly half of independents (51%) say they favor the Democratic candidate in their district, compared with just 31% who say they will vote Republican. And compared with recent elections, far more independents say the issue of which party controls Congress will be a factor in their vote this fall.

Read the complete findings Congress Faces Record Public Discontent on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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