Americans' Overwhelming Desire For Congressional Term Limits Isn't Because They Trust Or Admire Congress
As we've seen in California, there are real drawbacks to mandatory legislative term limits, not the least of which is how even more power devolves to lobbyists, something that has made Sacramento virtually worthless as a vehicle for progressivism, despite huge Democratic majorities. But Congress is so hated by the American people-- and rightfully so-- that term limits is supported overwhelmingly. A 2013 Gallup Poll show support at 75%-- 82% among Republicans (the dumb angry party), 79% among independents, and 65% among Democrats (the dumb complacent party). Over the weekend, the Democratic Party's convention platform committee voted down a plank opposing the TPP-- which is opposed by the vast majority of Democrats-- voted down strengthening the call for a $15 minimum wage by adding in a phrase about "eventually," and thanks to the delegates appointed by Hillary and Wasserman Schultz, killed an amendment to prevent the lobbyist/government revolving door. Congress, if anything, is even worse.
Last week Brookings released a study by Elaine Kamarck, Alexander Podkul, Grace Wallack and Nicholas W. Zeppos about the congressional elections coming up in November, all House seats and a third of the Senate seats. As we've been explaining (here and here, for example, the primary season for congressional seats is "just over halfway finished. Much has been said so far about the impact of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on congressional candidates, either in the primary or in the general, but little has been tested empirically. In the second cycle of the Brookings Primary Project, we have taken exit polls from congressional primaries to see what effect-- if any-- the presidential candidates are having down ballot. The answer so far: Not much."
On the Republican side, two incumbents out of 76 incumbents facing challengers have lost their seats so far, both due to redistricting. First, on June 7, Representative Renee Ellmers lost her seat in North Carolina’s CD-2. Ellmers was elected in 2010 during the Tea Party wave when she unseated a long-time Democratic incumbent. This time around, Ellmers lost to another GOP incumbent, Representative George Holding. Holding formerly represented the 13th district, but ran in the new 2nd district after a court mandated that North Carolina redraw the map. The new 2nd district included much of Holding’s old constituents. Just one week later, in the June 14 Virginia primary, another Republican incumbent fell victim to redistricting. Representative Randy Forbes, previously of Virginia’s 4th District, sought reelection in the 2nd District after the 4th was mandatorily changed to include more Democrats. Although VA-2 was open (vacated by Scott Rigell), Forbes lost to state Delegate Scott Taylor.Trump cut a robo-call for Ellmers and endorsed her but it didn't help.
...Voters for all the presidential candidates in Republican primaries uniformly chose to vote for their sitting representative. A slightly higher percentage of Trump voters chose the non-incumbent, but this difference was not statistically significant. Trump voters were also the least likely to not vote in the congressional race, dispelling the earlier fears that Trump voters would only show up to vote the top of the ticket.
Brookings reported that the only Democratic incumbent to lose his seat so far was Chaka Fattah, who had had tons press for his criminal enterprises and was indicted on 29 charges of corruption including bribery and racketeering just before the primary. He still managed to come in second in a 4-way primary nd lost to a state Rep, Dwight Evans who had been in the state legislature for 35 years-- even longer than Fattah had been in Congress.
The good news was that the overwhelming majority of both Hillary and Bernie voters chose the non-incumbent, although Bernie voters were slightly more likely to choose Fattah, which is highly ironic considering he had taken a million dollar campaign loan in 2007 and then fraudulently routed federal grant and nonprofit money to cover it up. The real tragedy-- in Pennsylvania and around the country-- was that Bernie supporters were also slightly more likely to not vote for a congressional candidate.
Hillary has given some vague support to the DCCC and DSCC but hasn't tried to help any Democratic candidates. Bernie, whose campaign was more bootstraps-like and less of a machine, didn't do much-- other than help with fund-raising (probably the single biggest thing he could have done) for a few candidates-- Lucy Flores and Eric Kingson, who lost, Zephyr Teachout, who won, and Tim Canova and Pramila Jayapal whose primaries are coming up. Bernie traveled to Syracuse and gave Kingson a boost but it was too late to win the race for him and a worthless DCCC hack won.
It isn't much of a political revolution if Bernie voters turn out for his race and then don't bother informing themselves about the down-ballot candidates and then just skip voting or, worse, vote for the bad guys. We've got to work on that-- at least in time for Maria Chappelle-Nadal in Missouri and Pramila Jayapal and Angie Marx in Washington on August 2, August 23rd for the primary runoff in Oklahoma City between Berniecrat Tom Guild and party hack Al McAffrey and, most important, for a spate of races in Florida August 30, including Grayson's Senate race against Wall Street errand boy Patrick Murphy and Canova's House contest against #DebtTrap Debbie Wasserman Schultz. You can chip in for any of these races here: