President Obama’s approval ratings have returned to where they were at the end of last summer—54 percent say he’s doing a good job, as opposed to the 44 percent who are disappointed, according to the most recent Washington Post poll.
Approval for the Democrats as the party better prepared to cope with the major issues facing the United States is up, as well. According to the Post poll, which was conducted in late April, 46 percent of Americans say they trust the Democrats, as opposed to just 32 percent who say they trust the Republicans. That compares with a much-narrower 43-37 split three months ago.
Asked which party “best represents your own personal values,” Americans chose the Democrats by a 2-1 margin
So Democratic fortunes would seem to be good.
Consider the response when the Post’s pollster asked: “Right now, are you inclined to vote to re-elect your representative in Congress in the next election or are you inclined to look around for someone else to vote for?”
Only 32 percent said “re-elect.”
A remarkable 57 percent responded that they intended to “look around” for someone else.
That’s the highest level of openness to kicking out incumbents since the fall of 1994, when Republicans took control of the House and Senate from the Democrats.
That’s why veteran senators such as Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas—and House members such as Jame Harman in California—are scrambling to beat back serious primary challenges.
Should these Democratic incumbents be scared?
How pronounced in the anti-incumbent mood?
In the first rounds of primaries—in Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina—Democratic and Republicans incumbents have been battered, with many winning by far narrower than expected margins.
They kept winning, however, until now.
On Saturday, Utah Republicans rejected veteran Senator Bob Bennett at their state party convention, blocking him from a place on the primary ballot and effectively ending his Senate career.
On Tuesday, West Virginia Democrats rejected Congressman Alan Mollohan, who was seeking a 15th term. The incumbent had held the seat representing a traditionally Democratic district since 1983, and before that his father had held it from 1969 to 1983. But he lost his primary by a 56-44 margin.
To be sure, Mollohan, who has been plagued by ethics problems, was a weaker incumbent than most. But West Virginia has a stronger history of reelecting even troubled representatives.