Frustration with Congress Could Hurt Republican Incumbents

Dec 15, 2011

Public discontent with Congress has reached record levels, and the implications for incumbents in next year’s elections could be stark. Two-in-three voters say most members of Congress should be voted out of office in 2012 – the highest on record. And the number who say their own member should be replaced matches the all-time high recorded in 2010, when fully 58 members of Congress lost reelection bids – the most in any election since 1948.

The Republican Party is taking more of the blame than the Democrats for a do-nothing Congress. A record-high 50% say that the current Congress has accomplished less than other recent Congresses, and by nearly two-to-one (40% to 23%) more blame Republican leaders than Democratic leaders for this. By wide margins, the GOP is seen as the party that is more extreme in its positions, less willing to work with the other side to get things done, and less honest and ethical in the way it governs. And for the first time in over two years, the Democratic Party has gained the edge as the party better able to manage the federal government.

To be sure, neither party’s leadership is viewed positively right now. Just 31% approve of how Democratic congressional leaders have performed. But even fewer (21%) approve of the job Republican leaders have done. And a good deal of this criticism is coming from within the GOP base. While Democrats approve of the job their party’s leaders are doing by a 60% to 31% margin, only 49% of Republicans approve of the GOP leaders in Congress are doing, while 44% disapprove.

Read the full report, Frustration with Congress Could Hurt Republican Incumbents, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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