Congressional approval ratings are nonsense

Congressional approval ratings are nonsense & the truth about incumbents 

Bottom Line: There’s no shortage of annoying, ineffectual polling that’s frequently perpetuated – but nothing grates on my nerves more than Congressional approval ratings. With Republicans holding majorities in Congress and the midterms under three weeks away, many in the media are excited to perpetuate Congressional approval ratings. The current average of polling shows a sub 20% approval rating for Congress. To casual observers of politics who’re checking in for the midterms that might sound awful and might suggest that everyone can’t wait to throw their representatives out. That’s naturally what most in media want to communicate. To the highly informed politically you know that A) Low Congressional approval is the norm and B) There’s not a more meaningless polling statistic available. Congressional job approval hasn’t been in positive territory since the days after 9/11. It also isn’t at all predictive of Congressional outcomes.  

Over the past 50+ years... 

  • 93% of those who run for re-election in the US House win re-election 
  • 83% of US Senators who run for re-election win

So, in short, we’re never happy with Congress but we almost always re-elect those who represent us which is the more important point. The question is asked ubiquitously of the 535 members of Congress but really only applies, in a political context, to the three we vote for ourselves. For most of us in South Florida that’s even going to be a mixed bag. For example, how many people approve of their US House Rep AND both Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson? I’d imagine that’s a pretty short list.

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