So Much for the Power of Incumbency

Publication: Washington Post

Author: Chris Cillizza


11/16/2009 - Amid the spin spewing from the parties over what this month's elections in New Jersey, Virginia and New York meant, there is one indisputable lesson learned: Voters don't like incumbents these days.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) was thrown out by voters, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) was nearly defeated despite outspending his opponent by 20 to 1.

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In Pew Research Center's polling, just over half of Americans said they would like to see their members of Congress reelected next fall. Only 34 percent said they want most incumbents to be reelected in the midterms.

Pew describes those numbers as among the most negative in two decades of collecting data. They approach levels found in the run-ups to the 1994 and 2006 midterms – elections in which there were significant seat changes in the House and Senate. In October 2006, 55 percent said they wanted to see their lawmakers reelected and 37 percent favored the reelection of most members of Congress; in October 1994, 49 percent favored the reelection of their own lawmakers and 29 percent backed reelection of Capitol Hill incumbents in general.

Read the full article So Much for the Power of Incumbency on the Washington Post's Web site.

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