Americans Don't Like Republicans, But They're About to Give Them All of Congress

Source: AP

Americans by and large disapprove of the job Republicans are doing in Congress. But they're likely to vote the GOP into control of both houses of Congress in this year's midterm elections.

That may not seem like it adds up, but it's the result of demographics and polling data — in addition to a general dislike of everyone in Congress, not just Republicans.

The numbers: In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this month, 72% of respondents said they disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs. That figure gets even worse when the sample size is restricted to registered voters, who give the GOP a 76% disapproval rating.

Democrats fare better, though not by too much — 61% of respondents disapprove of the job Dems are doing (64% when limited to registered voters).

Yet FiveThirtyEight predicts that Republicans have a 59% chance of winning the Senate. It's no paradox — it helps to understand the difference in the way people treat specific issues versus general ones. For instance, the same poll reveals that more than three-quarters of respondents do not like the job Congress is doing. But a plurality — 45% — think their representative is doing well.

People don't like Republicans in Congress, but they can be kinder to the specific person running for office. Apathy can also help — the poll shows that 40% of respondents think there will be no real difference if Republicans control the Senate instead of the Democrats. 

States to watch: Whether or not that comes to pass depends on the outcomes of a few key swing states.

The leading candidates in Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Colorado and Alaska each have less than a 70% chance of winning, per FiveThirtyEight's projections. Defeating the Republican candidate in Kansas might actually come down to Democrats throwing their weight behind a popular independent candidate while Republicans parachute in to support struggling incumbent Pat Roberts.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts
Source: 
AP

Another big effort is underway in Georgia, where Democrats think they have a chance to flip what seems like a pretty solid red state. As Slate notes, Dems there have registered more than 85,000 minority voters, and they're hoping to keep the push going until Election Day.

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Matt Connolly

Matt has written for Mother Jones, the Washington Examiner and Chicago Public Radio among many others. He's a resident of Washington, D.C., but much like Bruce Springsteen and pork roll he is a product of New Jersey.

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