In your average election year incumbent members of Congress running for reelection get a share of the vote somewhere in the upper 60s. But our newest national poll finds that if there was an election today, only 47% of voters in the country say they would vote to reelect their current Representative, with 33% saying they would definitely vote for a challenger and 20% unsure.
Those numbers are a reflection of widespread dissatisfaction with both the Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Only 36% of voters approve of the job Congressional Democrats are doing, and for Congressional Republicans that number declines to 32%.
Independent voters are particularly down on both parties, giving each a 25% approval rating. Democratic voters are more happy with their party, giving it a 74% approval rating, than Republicans are with theirs, giving it a 57% approval rating.
When voters are mad at Washington it tends to be the party in power that pays the price and our first look at the generic Congressional ballot for this election cycle reflects that. 45% of voters say they would choose a Republican if there was an election being held today, while 41% say they would vote Democratic.
That result is largely a function of independents saying they would vote Republican by a margin of 40-31. Democrats and Republicans are mostly committed to their parties, as you would expect.
Among voters who are unhappy with both Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the GOP leads on the generic ballot 50-14, a reflection of the fact that even if people don't like you they might turn to you as the alternative when you're the party out of power.
It's a long way until November 2010 but these numbers suggest we could see a whole lot of seats shift next year. That would largely be in a Republican direction, but with the extent to which voters are unhappy with incumbents generally you could see a number of sitting Representatives in both parties go down.
Full results here