New poll shows anti-incumbent mood more intense than 06, 94

Jon Ward Contributor
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American voters are ready to throw the bums out this November.

A new poll shows that attitudes toward incumbent members of Congress are more hostile than they were in the last two midterm elections when the minority party retook control of the legislature. Republicans did it in 1994 and Democrats in 2006.

In both 1994 and 2006, the same percentage of voters said they wanted to elect someone new to represent them in Congress rather than reelect their current Senator or Congressman.

In the ABC/Washington Post poll released just before midnight Monday, the anti-incumbent mood is significantly higher.

About 60 percent of voters in the poll said they want new representation in Congress, while only 29 percent said they want to keep who they have. That’s compared to 54 percent anti-incumbent and 37 percent pro-incumbent in 2006, and a nearly identical 54/36 split in 1994.

“Just 29 percent are now inclined to re-elect their representative, the fewest in ABC/Post polls since 1989,” wrote Gary Langer, ABC’s polling analyst.

As for President Obama, his approval ratings have stabilized somewhat, but the American public’s perception of him as a leader is slipping.

On two questions — whether Obama “understands the problems of people like you,” and whether he is “a strong leader” — the president lost major ground in the last three months, which only continues a downward trend since he got elected.

Only 57 percent of those polled think Obama is a strong leader now compared to 77 percent in April 2009, while 43 percent think Obama is not a strong leader, compared to 18 percent just before his inauguration in January 2009.

Only 51 percent said they think Obama understands their problems, down from 72 percent in January 2009. The number of people who don’t think he understands has doubled, up to 48 percent from 24 percent.

The poll shows that negatives attitudes about the Tea Party movement have also increased. Favorability ratings have stayed constant through three polls this year, at about 38 percent. But unfavorability increased from 39 percent in March to 50 percent now, the poll showed.

“Young people especially have turned away, their unfavorable views of the Tea Party rising by a dramatic 22 points, from 38 percent in March to 60 percent now,” Langer wrote.

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