TIME 2014 Election

Gallup Poll Sees Historically Ugly Midterm Elections

USA Congress
DHuss—Getty Images USA Congress

National polling numbers have been bad for years. Now they are worse.

Congressional job approval is likely to be at its lowest ever in a midterm election year, according to a review of Gallup polls dating back to 1974. The current 16% approval rating could bring another high turnover in House membership in the election this November.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected defeat in Virginia’s primary election showed an early sign of candidates’ potential vulnerability in the upcoming elections. Approval ratings of Congress are down 5% from the 2010 survey, an election year that resulted in the defeat of 15% of House incumbents seeking re-election. In another Gallup poll taken this year, only 22% of voters said that most members of Congress deserve reelection. Fifty percent said their own member of Congress deserves reelection.

Voters’ dissatisfaction with the general direction of the country, above-average economic concern and Obama’s low job approval ratings also factor into the likelihood of a significant turnover this fall. Obama’s job approval rating of 44% is the same as it was in 2010, when the Democrats lost more than 60 seats in the House. Only two other presidents – George W. Bush in 2006 and Ronald Reagan in 1982 – have had lower job approval ratings in recent elections.

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Economic conditions are also a major cause of American’s dissatisfaction with the state of the nation and disapproval of government leaders. Although confidence in the economy is improving slightly, the public is now showing greater concern in the economy than in previous years.

Gallup predicts that improvement in the election indicators is unlikely between now and the fall midterm elections.

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