If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, just 25% of voters nationwide would keep the current batch of legislators.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure how they would vote.
Overall, these numbers are little changed since last October. When Congress was passing the unpopular $700-billion bailout plan in the heat of a presidential campaign and a seeming financial industry meltdown, 59% wanted to throw them all out. At that time, just 17% wanted to keep them.
There has been a bit of a partisan shift since last fall. With Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, it's not surprising to find that the number of Democrats who would vote to keep the entire Congress has grown from 25% last fall to 43% today. In fact, a modest plurality of Democrats would now vote to keep the legislators. Last fall, a plurality of Democrats were ready to throw them all out.
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While Democrats have become more supportive of the legislators, voters not affiliated with either major party have moved in the opposite direction. Today, 70% of those not affiliated with either major party would vote to replace all of the elected politicians in the House and Senate. That’s up from 62% last year.
Republicans, not surprisingly, overwhelmingly support replacing everyone in the Congress. Their views have not changed. But Republican voters are disenchanted with their team as much as the Congress itself: 69% of GOP Voters say Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the party base.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) now believe that members of Congress are overpaid. That’s up 10 percentage points from last October. Just five percent (5%) think their Congress member is paid too little. Thirty percent (30%) think the pay is about right.
One reason for this attitude may be that most voters say they understand the health care legislation better than Congress. Just 22% think the legislature has a good understanding of the issue. Three-out-of-four (74%) trust their own economic judgment more than Congress’.
Just 14% give Congress good or excellent review for their overall performance, while only 16% believe it’s Very Likely that Congress will address the most important problems facing our nation. Seventy-five percent (75%) say members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than they are in helping people. On the brighter side, just 37% say most in Congress have extramarital affairs.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans believe that when members of Congress meet with regulators and other government officials, they do so to help their friends and hurt their political opponents. Most believe that’s why politicians are able to solicit contributions from business leaders. Most, however, say it’s generally a good investment because political donors get more than their money’s worth. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of American adults say political donors get more than their money back in terms of favors from members of Congress.
Despite these reviews, more than 90% of Congress routinely gets reelected every two years. It’s a shock when any incumbent loses. One explanation for this phenomenon frequently heard in Washington, D.C. is that “people hate Congress but love their own congressman.”
Voters have a different perspective, and 50% say 'rigged' election rules explain high reelection rate for Congress.
When the Constitution was written, the nation’s founders expected that there would be a 50% turnover in the House of Representatives every election cycle. That was the experience they witnessed in state legislatures at the time (and most of the state legislatures offered just one-year terms). For well over 100 years after the Constitution was adopted, the turnover averaged in the 50% range as expected.
In the 20th century, turnover began to decline. As power and prestige flowed to Washington during the New Deal era, fewer and fewer members of Congress wanted to leave. In 1968, congressional turnover fell to single digits for the first time ever, and it has remained very low ever since.
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