A Gallup poll released on Friday proclaimed that the survey group had found “record high anti-incumbent sentiment toward Congress.” The situation certainly sounds dire. 76% of registered voters told the pollster that most members of Congress do not deserve re-election, the highest such percentage the organization has found in nearly two decades of surveys. The previous high of 70% was recorded in August. And, once again, the national consensus spans all partisan lines. 68% of Democrats, 75% of Republicans and 82% of Independents told Gallup that most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.
The situation is quite different, however, when one inquires about registered voters’ views toward their own representatives. In the very same poll, Gallup found that 53% of registered voters believe their own representative in the US House deserves to be re-elected, compared with just 39% who said the opposite. Historically, Americans tend to have more positive views about their own representatives than of Congress as a whole. The 53% majority who believe their own representative deserves re-election is just 5% higher than the survey’s record low of 48% on this particular question in 1992.
Unfortunately, so long as Americans continue to turn a blind eye toward the deficiencies of their own representatives, we will all continue to suffer from inadequate representation in government. When we cast our ballots, after all, we do not vote on Congress as a whole, but rather for our own individual delegate. If we are going to clean house, we have to begin at home. If you desire to “throw the bums out,” as the old saying goes, you must first stop voting them in.