59% Would Vote to Replace Entire Congress
Congress was front and center in the national news last week and the American people were far from impressed. If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, 59% of voters would like to throw them all out and start over again. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 17% would vote to keep the current legislators in office.
Today, just 23% have even a little confidence in the ability of Congress to deal with the nation’s economic problems and only 24% believe most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it.
Last week, the House of Representatives initially rejected a financial bailout bill proposed by the Bush Administration. Later, after the Senate added a number of items that some call “pork” and others call “sweeteners,” the measure eventually passed. While the bill survived Washington, it did so at a time when just 30% of voters favored it and 45% were opposed.
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Only half (49%) believe that the current Congress is better than individuals selected at random from the phone book. Thirty-three percent (33%) believe a randomly selected group of Americans could do a better job and 19% are not sure (see crosstabs).
A separate survey found that just 11% of voters say Congress is doing a good or an excellent job. (see crosstabs and recent trends).
Despite these reviews, more than 90% of Congress is likely to be elected this November due to an electoral system designed to benefit incumbents. The biggest advantage offered those in the House of Representatives is a process known as Gerrymandering where Congressional Districts are loaded with friendly voters from Representative’s own party. In effect, Members of Congress—working through their state legislature--get to choose their voters rather than letting voters choose their Congressman.
Also aiding incumbents is high name recognition from news coverage, large staffs funded by taxpayers, and other perks. While the staff positions are technically excluded from politics, the constituent services they provide in a Congressman’s name are among the most effective of all campaign techniques.
Forty-nine percent (49%) of all voters believe Members of Congress are paid too much while just 5% believe they are paid too little. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say Congressional pay is about right.
While unhappiness with Congress cuts across partisan and demographic lines, Democrats are a bit less unhappy than other voters. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans would vote to throw out the entire Congress as would 62% of unaffiliated voters. Only 43% of Democrats go along. Still, just 25% of those in Barack Obama’s party would vote to keep the entire Congress even though it’s controlled by Democrats.