What do you think of the job Congress has been doing? If you’re like four in five Americans, you were not happy with the legislative branch of our government. Polls from most polling organizations taken over the past two seasons report Congressional job approval ratings from eleven percent to a high of 18% (meaning more than 80% of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
So what did we do about it? In the elections of 2016, we voted out 3% of our Representatives and 2% of our Senators. In other words, we decided to re-elect, keep in office, rehire, more than 97% of the people we said were doing such a poor job. That’s why we are perennially unhappy with our government, and why Congress doesn’t bother to change what they’re doing. We can keep saying we don’t like what they’re doing, but if we keep re-electing them, they have no reason to change what they do or how they do it.
The actual numbers:
There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In 2016, 43 Representatives chose not to seek re-election, 5 Representatives lost their bids for re-election in primary elections, and 8 Representatives were defeated in their bids for re-election in the general election. In other words, 87% of the members of the House of Representatives will be returning to their seats in the next Congress. And of those who wanted to return, 96.7% were re-elected.
There are 100 seats in the Senate. In 2016, 34 of those seats were up for re-election. 5 Senators chose not to seek re-election. 29 ran for re-election, and 27 of them won re-election.
Some Congressional approval ratings come from polls conducted by Gallup (18% approve, 79% disapprove; October 5-9, 2016); The Economist (11% approve, 67% disapprove; November 4-7, 2016); CBS News / The New York Times (15% approve, 76% disapprove; October 28-November 1, 2016); Associated Press (14% approve, 86% disapprove; October 20-24, 2016); Fox News (18% approve, 79% disapprove; September 27-29, 2016).