“Throw the bums out!”

A commonly heard sentiment, especially when talking about members of Congress. Congress has an approval rating of the high teens to low twenties, truly abysmal. And it’s been there for awhile. With no signs of improving.

So one would think congress people would be removed left and right.

But that’s not the case this time. Of the 33 Senate seats being contested, only 2 incumbents were defeated; Brown of Massachusetts in the general election and Lugar of Indiana in the primaries. That’s about 94% re-election rate. Retirees, such as Herb Kohl are not considered as incumbents here.

And the House? Twenty-two incumbents were defeated in the general election and 13 in the primaries, a return rate of 92%.

Not exactly throwing the bums out. It doesn’t take the mind of a giant intellect to determine that while people may not like the job Congress is doing, they like their representatives just fine.

And historically that’s also true. There are exceptions; the 2010 mid-terms,in fact, a lot of mid-terms, the 1992-1994 “revolution,” the Reagan Revolution, and others.

The Senate is actually more “volatile” than the House…more power, more money, more people seeking the office.

But it’s still not exactly cleaning house.




  1. You have stumbled into my single most favorite political statistic of all time.

    Here’s the Real Clear Politics average of 17%.

    But individual congressional polls usually show high numbers for one’s own district. I’ll dig around and see if I can find some links.

  2. deaninwaukesha says:

    Here’s one:

    Pew research

  3. Perfect! Thanks for sticking to it. I was side-tracked last night.