Opinions of Congress Crater

The Washington Post has a new poll out today that shows the widespread disgust with Washington you'd expect to see. The number of people who have confidence in Washington's ability to handle the economy has plunged, and nobody comes out looking good. To Republicans, this might seem like mission accomplished. As the anti-government opposition party, they can use obstructionism and blackmail to destroy government's ability to function, then turn to the voters and say, "See? We told you government doesn't work! Now vote for us!"

Nevertheless, opinions of Republicans couldn't sink much further. Only 18 percent of respondents have confidence in Congressional Republicans' ability to make the right decisions on the economy, meaning that even most Republican voters don't trust their own party's representatives (the number for the president was 33 percent, not good, but not as bad as his opponents).

The result that really jumped out at me was a question about the next election. We should remember that it's a long way until November 2012, and this is only one survey, but this is striking nonetheless. This graph shows just registered voters:
WaPo 8-11.jpg

Just before the Republican sweep of 1994, 37 percent of registered voters said they were inclined to vote to re-elect their member of Congress. Before the Democratic sweep of 2006, it was 35 percent. Before the Republican sweep of 2010, it was 32 percent. Today it's 18 percent. Unless they start strangling puppies on the House floor, opinions of Congress can't get much lower. It's a fair bet that in 2013 there are, once again, going to be a lot of new members of the people's house.

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