A Summer of Discontent with Washington
All three branches of the federal government are under fire from the American public. Just 29% approve of President Bush’s job performance while the proportion with a favorable view of Congress has declined 12 percentage points since January. Even favorable opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court have fallen, from 72% in January to 57% currently.
Democrats Fail to Impress in First 100 Days
As the Democratic-led Congress approaches the 100-day mark, pluralities approve of House Speaker Pelosi’s and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s leadership. But Democrats get mixed reviews on campaign promises and policies and proposals.
Solid Majority Favors Congressional Troop Deadline
40% now say the situation in Iraq is going fairly or very well but nearly six in ten want their representative to vote for a withdrawal deadline and only 36% think the U.S. troop buildup will work.
Public Cheers Democratic Victory
The Democrats’ big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP’s electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago.
Democrats Made Gains in All Regions of the Country
With roughly 95% of the votes tallied so far in House races across the country, the overall partisan breakdown is 52% for Democratic candidates, 46% for Republican candidates and 2% for others. In actual votes, Democratic House candidates in 2006 have already tallied nearly 5 million more votes than they did in 2002, while the Republican tally is down more than 3 million from four years ago.
The Real Message of the Midterms
A sweeping election tends to invite sweeping conclusions — and the Democrats’ takeover of both houses of Congress this November provides a tempting array of opportunities for exaggeration or misinterpretation. With that in mind, let’s look at the major lessons to be gleaned from the exit polls and opinion polls about how America voted this November.
Voter Turnout and Congressional Change
In recent decades, there have been three basic ways that turnout has worked to produce the sort of “big wave” midterm that the Democrats are hoping for next week.
Lack of Competition in Elections Fails to Stir Public
The concern among some politicians and political experts over the lack of competitiveness in U.S. elections is generally not shared by the public. Moreover, voters appear to lack a clear sense of whether the elections in their own House districts are competitive or not.
How Often Do Members of Congress Tell the Truth?
Not often, two political scientists found. Plus, economists say they know why tall people earn more.
A Do-Nothing Congress That’s Done Too Much of the Wrong Thing
Approval ratings and reelect numbers are way down.