According to a new Gallup poll, just 7 percent of Americans have faith in how Congress is doing. It is the all-time lowest congressional approval rating in history, down from 42% when Gallop first asked the question in 1973. A conveniently inverse twist on the data reveals that congressional incumbents in both the House and Senate currently enjoy re-election rates at a rate of almost 90 percent.
There may be several reasons for this anomaly. Out of a total of 242 voting districts (117 Democrat, 125 Republican) in the U.S., most members of Congress hail from areas dominated by heavy partisanship. Thus, re-election candidates face little to no threat from losing their seats to another party. Swing districts, where party equilibrium tends to be the decider, have been on a steady decline over the last twenty years whereas landslide districts are on the rise.
Some of these fluctuations are consequences of the redistricting process in many states' post-2010 elections. Others are caused by an increasing overall political polarization between the parties.
Twelve states have closed primaries, which means only registered voters for a particular party are permitted to vote. Twenty-one have mixed primary systems, giving the power to decide who can vote directly to the parties. For example, Arizona has a mixed primary system, but it is considered semi-closed since only unaffiliated voters may choose a party primary. Others must vote in the primary for the party in which they are registered.
Expectedly, the consequence of political polarization tends to create extensive legislative gridlock up on the Hill. Some speculate that it is because House Republicans have a well-documented history of killing or obstructing just about any legislation introduced by Democrats during this administration.
House Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) believes the Senate is the true culprit rather than President Obama. He charges that under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV.), the upper chamber has "not moved anything," and he may have a point.
The Republican-led House has passed more than 15 bills that they believe promote job growth. All have since stalled in the Senate. During the unemployment extension showdowns in January, the New York Times described Reid's leadership as "iron-fisted," unleashing a bitterness that has been blamed for derailing efforts.
Off the Cuff - My Take:
Obstruction, backbiting and finger-pointing? In MY Congress? You don't say! In other breaking news, the sun is hot.
Frankly, a 7 percent congressional approval rating seems almost complimentary and frankly a bit hard to swallow at this point.
Seems there's little to no compromise to be had these days in the hallowed halls of Congress. Whether your priorities lie on the side of the House or the Democratic-led Senate, no one seems to be budging. How on earth can this look good to constituents?
Perhaps some encourage the gridlock. They don't want to see one party rule the majority of seats. Multiparty legislatures are always a possibility, however in our current political climate, I don't see that scenario playing out any time soon.
The identity of our 113th Congress seems to be rife with adolescent political tantrums and he-said, she-said sound bites that address very little about the issues and tend to be more about pushing ideologies, unless you're really into the nuts-and-bolts of actually watching entire sessions yourself on C-Span, that is. I know I've learned my lesson in that arena, but your mileage may vary.
Perhaps this little statistic shows the American public is wising up. Or, perhaps we've just let ourselves become complacent to the antics of our congress-folk, the servants of our republic that spent 126 days in session in 2013 working tirelessly for the little folk. That must have been overkill, because they plan to work even less this year! We're #1!! Or something...
Feel confident yet??
Thanks for reading, and as always, your candies and flowers (or pitchforks and torches) are very much appreciated.