Over the past few weeks, every political poll disseminated across the internet seems to defy at least one long standing historical precedent. The new CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, unsurprisingly, adheres to this trend. According to the findings – for the first time ever – less than 50% of Americans want to see their own member of Congress reelected. CNN reports:
And the CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday also indicates that while Republicans may have had the upper hand in the recent battle over raising the debt ceiling, they appear to have lost a lot of ground with the public and the party's unfavorable rating is now at an all time high.
Only 41 percent of people questioned say the lawmaker in their district in the U.S. House of Representatives deserves to be re-elected - the first time ever in CNN polling that that figure has dropped below 50 percent. Forty-nine percent say their representative doesn't deserve to be re-elected in 2012. And with ten percent unsure, it's the first time that a majority has indicated that they would boot their representative out of office if they had the chance today.
"That 41 percent, in the polling world, is an amazing figure. Throughout the past two decades, in good times and bad, Americans have always liked their own member of Congress despite abysmal ratings for Congress in general," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Now anti-incumbent sentiment is so strong that most Americans are no longer willing to give their own representative the benefit of the doubt. If that holds up, it could be an early warning of an electorate that is angrier than any time in living memory."
In short, while members of Congress have historically been well supported in their home districts, the new CNN/ORC poll suggests that Americans are furious with the way Democrats and Republicans have conducted themselves in Washington. Americans now only support reelecting their own Congressman by 41%, which is the lowest since the poll was first administered, and furthermore, 10% remain undecided – signifying that ambivalence, not fierce opposition, could be the impetus that unseats congressional incumbents in 2012.
Republicans, in my view, are losing the media war. Their message of small government, fair taxes, and fiscal responsibility is clearly not resonating with voters. While Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) have failed to garner high approval ratings recently, Americans in general have favored their handling of the debt crisis as compared to Republicans. Speaker Boehner and his congressional cohorts, for the most part, have been left holding the bag.
Although factions on the left have insidiously engaged in a smear campaign against the Tea Party, Republicans would be wise to ignore these attacks and instead focus on the economy. Job creation is, after all, what the American people care about after years of chronic unemployment and wasteful government spending. While this might not be enough to sway public opinion back in their favor, it's certainly a step in the right direction and may give them the upper hand in 2012.
To read the full results click here.