Members of Congress face the most anti-incumbent electorate since 1994, with less than a third of all voters saying they are inclined to support their representatives in November, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Dissatisfaction is widespread, crossing party lines, ideologies and virtually all groups of voters. Less than a quarter of independents and just three in 10 Republicans say they’re leaning toward backing an incumbent this fall. Even among Democrats, who control the House, the Senate and the White House, opinion is evenly divided on the question.
“I’m not really happy right now with anybody” in Washington, Sandy Davis, 64, a Republican from Decatur, Ill. said in a follow-up interview. Although she expressed “mixed feelings” about a fresh crop of lawmakers, she added: “When the country was founded, those guys were all pretty new at it. How bad would it be?”
Still, for President Obama and his party, there are some positive signs in the poll. The public trusts Democrats more than Republicans to handle the major problems facing the country by a double-digit margin, giving Democrats a bigger lead than they held two months ago, when Congress was engaged in the long endgame over divisive health-care legislation. A majority continues to see Obama as “just about right” ideologically, despite repeated GOP efforts to define the president as outside the mainstream.
Those polled also say they trust Obama over Republicans in Congress to deal with the economy, health care and, by a large margin, financial regulatory reform. And the president continues to get positive marks on his overall job performance, with, for the first time since the fall, a majority of independents approving. Disaffection among independents with Obama’s policies has been one of the major shifts in public opinion over the past year, making this small movement one to monitor over the coming months.
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