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Most voters' view of Congress: 'Throw the bums out'

  • Story Highlights
  • National poll indicates majority believe most lawmakers should not be re-elected
  • CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll finds most anger directed at Republicans
  • Still, majority of respondents say their own lawmaker deserves to be re-elected
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From Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that a majority of U.S. registered voters don't think most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected, and most of the anger seems directed at Republicans.

Capitol at dawn: A poll finds the majority of voters think most of those inside don't deserve re-election.

Capitol at dawn: A poll finds the majority of voters think most of those inside don't deserve re-election.

Fifty-eight percent of registered voters questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday said that most members of Congress do not deserve to be re-elected; 37 percent said most members should be returned to office.

"It's a "throw the bums out" sentiment similar to how the public felt in 1994, when Congress switched to GOP control, and 2006, when Congress switched back to Democratic control," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress for the past two years.

But which bums should be thrown out?

Fifty percent of those questioned said most Democratic members of Congress deserve to be re-elected, but that number drops to 36 percent for Republican lawmakers.

"This is just not shaping up to be a good year for Republican candidates," Holland said. "It's possible that voters are so angry at George W. Bush that they are thinking about voting against anyone whose name is followed by an 'R' in parentheses."

Although many voters are ready to "throw the bums out," that doesn't mean they think their own member of Congress is a bum. Fifty-five percent of those questioned said their member of Congress deserves re-election; 38 percent said no.

"Americans tend to dislike large groups, such as all bankers or all lawyers, but they also tend to like their own banker or their own lawyer -- or their own member of Congress," Holland said.

"It's a phenomenon that pollster David Moore calls the 'BIMBY effect' -- Americans tend to believe that things are 'better in my back yard.' The BIMBY effect has helped incumbents get re-elected to Congress for years, and 2008 looks like it will follow the same pattern."

Democrats control 235 seats in the House of Representatives. Republicans control 199. One seat is vacant.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted October 17-19, with 1,058 adults questioned by telephone.

The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

All About Opinion Research CorporationU.S. CongressDemocratic PartyRepublican Party

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