About one in five U.S. voters say most members of Congress deserve re-election while 72 percent say they do not, a level of incumbent satisfaction that is on pace to be the lowest measured by Gallup in an election year.
The percentage in favor of re-election for most federal lawmakers is up from the 17 percent that Gallup measured in January, but the pollsters have only obtained sub-30 percent readings twice before — in 1992 and 2010.
Democratic voters are more likely than Republicans to say members deserve re-election, 28-22 percent, while independents (16 percent) are the least likely to support incumbents.
Yet about half of voters think their own member deserves to keep his or her job, a proportion that is roughly consistent across the parties.
Republicans are trying to use unfavorable ratings of President Obama and his health care law to take back the Senate this year. While incumbent Democrats are hanging tough in their races, the implications of the Gallup poll are favorable for the GOP.
“Even though the vast majority of congressional incumbents who are seeking re-election this year will win, the likelihood of an incumbent winning appears as if it is on track to be lower than usual,” Gallup said.
“The percentage of registered voters who think most members of Congress and their own member deserve re-election are at or near lows compared with prior election years, which indicates a more challenging environment for incumbents.”