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Congressional Performance

Incumbents, Beware: Just 29% Think You Deserve Reelection to Congress

Friday, March 21, 2014

Voters continue to frown on the job Congress is doing, but support for congressional incumbents has fallen to all-time lows.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only seven percent (7%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, little changed from monthly surveys over the past year.  Sixty-four percent (64%) now rate Congress’ performance as poor, but that’s down from 75% in November, its highest negative in seven years of tracking. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

More disturbing for Congress members in an election year is that just 22% think their representative is the best person for the job and only 29% believe he or she deserves reelection. Both are new lows in surveying going back to November 2009.

Forty-six percent (46%) say their local member of Congress is not the best person for the job, while 32% are undecided. Similarly, 43% think their representative does not deserve reelection, while 28% are not sure.

But then only eight percent (8%) of voters think most members of Congress get reelected because they do a good job representing their constituents. Two-thirds (66%) believe it’s because election rules are rigged to benefit incumbents.

After all, just 18% believe most members of Congress care what their constituents think. Sixty-four percent (64%) do not, and 18% more are not sure. That, too, is consistent with surveying over the past year.

Only slightly more (24%) think their local representative cares what they think, but that’s down from 28% in December and a new low. Fifty-two percent (52%) say their member of Congress doesn’t care what’s on voters’ minds. Another 24% are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 18-19, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Just 12% of voters think the House of Representatives is doing a good or excellent job, but most voters don’t think adding members to the House would improve its performance

Most voters in nearly all demographic categories rate Congress’ job performance as poor.

Unaffiliated voters are even more critical of Congress than Republicans and Democrats are. Fifty-one percent (51%) of unaffiliateds say their local representative does not deserve reelection, compared to 42% of Republicans and 37% of Democrats.

Men are more critical of their local representative than women are. Voters under 40 tend to be more undecided about their own member of Congress than older voters.

Interestingly, though, there’s general agreement across gender, age and racial lines that their local representative doesn’t care what voters think.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of all voters think most legislators listen most to their party leaders in Congress rather than to the voters they represent

Thirty-seven percent (37%) think it is worth the effort to try to contact their congressman or senator to express an opinion on an issue that is important to them. Fifty percent (50%) do not.

Only 29% now have a favorable opinion of Ohio Republican John Boehner, his worst ratings since becoming speaker of the House in early 2011. But other top congressional leaders don’t fare any better.

Congress is now haggling over a new federal budget. Most voters agree that across-the-board spending cuts are in order as long as the military budget and entitlement programs are not excluded, but just 23% think it’s even somewhat likely that government spending will be significantly reduced over the next few years.

Republicans have edged ahead of Democrats by one point on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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