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Monday, October 6, 2008

59% Would Vote To Replace Entire CONgress

Rasmussen Reports
Sunday, October 05, 2008

Congress was front and center in the national news last week and the American people were far from impressed. If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, 59% of voters would like to throw them all out and start over again. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 17% would vote to keep the current legislators in office.

Today, just 23% have even a little confidence in the ability of Congress to deal with the nation’s economic problems and only 24% believe most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it.

Last week, the House of Representatives initially rejected a financial bailout bill proposed by the Bush Administration. Later, after the Senate added a number of items that some call “pork” and others call “sweeteners,” the measure eventually passed. While the bill survived Washington, it did so at a time when just 30% of voters favored it and 45% were opposed.

Only half (49%) believe that the current Congress is better than individuals selected at random from the phone book. Thirty-three percent (33%) believe a randomly selected group of Americans could do a better job and 19% are not sure (see crosstabs).

A separate survey found that just 11% of voters say Congress is doing a good or an excellent job. (see crosstabs and recent trends).

Despite these reviews, more than 90% of Congress is likely to be elected this November due to an electoral system designed to benefit incumbents. The biggest advantage offered those in the House of Representatives is a process known as Gerrymandering where Congressional Districts are loaded with friendly voters from Representative’s own party. In effect, Members of Congress—working through their state legislature--get to choose their voters rather than letting voters choose their Congressman.

Also aiding incumbents is high name recognition from news coverage, large staffs funded by taxpayers, and other perks. While the staff positions are technically excluded from politics, the constituent services they provide in a Congressman’s name are among the most effective of all campaign techniques.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of all voters believe Members of Congress are paid too much while just 5% believe they are paid too little. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say Congressional pay is about right.

While unhappiness with Congress cuts across partisan and demographic lines, Democrats are a bit less unhappy than other voters. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans would vote to throw out the entire Congress as would 62% of unaffiliated voters. Only 43% of Democrats go along. Still, just 25% of those in Barack Obama’s party would vote to keep the entire Congress even though it’s controlled by Democrats.

However, there is agreement across party lines when it comes to whether or not most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it—25% of Democrats say yes along with 24% of Republicans and 24% of unaffiliated voters.

Democrats currently enjoy a nine-point advantage in the Generic Congressional Ballot.

When the Constitution was written, the nation’s founders expected that there would be a 50% turnover in the House of Representatives every election cycle. That was the experience they witnessed in state legislatures at the time (and most of the state legislatures offered just one-year terms). For well over 100 years after the Constitution was adopted, the turnover averaged in the 50% range as expected.

In the twentieth century, turnover began to decline. As power and prestige flowed to Washington during the New Deal era, fewer and fewer Members of Congress wanted to leave. In 1968, Congressional turnover fell to single digits for the first time ever and it has remained very low ever since.

Scrapple Face offers some satire on this;

59 Percent Would Vote to Replace Entire Congress
41 Percent Would Skip the Voting Part Entirely

By Scott Ott.

(2008-10-05) — According to the latest Rasmussen poll, in the wake of the financial-sector bailout bill passed last week, 59 percent of Americans would vote the entire Congress out of office. The other 41 percent would achieve the same result without the voting part through a variety of means, the most popular of which involves a coal or petroleum byproduct along with a poultry byproduct.

Wall Street May Skip Bailout Bucks
Meanwhile, concern grows in the mainstream media, and its Democrat party, that few financial firms will take advantage of the bailout, but will instead seek so-called private-sector solutions to their balance sheet woes.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-MA, said it would “add insult to injury if Wall Street snubbed this generous offer from the American people after all we did to make it possible.”

Wachovia Tries to Reject Gracious Offer
Rep. Frank said he was also concerned that Wachovia has moved to accept a roughly $15 billion all-stock buyout offer from Wells Fargo rather than the $2.1 billion acquisition by Citicorp of Wachovia’s banking assets — a deal brokered and backed by the FDIC, which would have put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $42 billion in Wachovia losses.

“Here we have another case of rude Wall Street fatcats essentially saying that taxpayer money is not good enough for them,” said Rep. Frank. “Its like when your grandma slaves over a hot stove all day, and then you don’t eat the turnips. It’s an insult.”