Posted by Brad @ 2:08 am on October 11th 2013

When People Don’t Believe What They Believe

One of the most useless stats in human history is the approval rate of Congress.

It is quoted Ad nauseam in any events where something “Congressional” is happening, and is intended, apparently, to show how much Americans F’ing hate Congress and all those stupid Congress-y things they do. And when a new thing happens, it’s pointed out that the approval of Congress is down – DOWN!.

So, Thing One is this: America has always hated Congress. Mark Twain was making jokes about it. John Adams threw in some quips on the subject…before Congress existed. In my lifetime there have been roughly five years when Congress was viewed with warm ambivalence. For the most part though…let’s just remember that everybody always hates Congress.

But just as Generic Democratic vs. George W. Bush will always, always return far different results than John Kerry – and vice versa – saying Congress is unpopular is absolutely meaningless as both a metric for a policy or event’s popularity, but more to the point, has next to no reflection on how people view their CONGRESSMAN or whether they vote to reelect them. In 2012, only 15% of people approved of Congress. 90% reelected their congressman. In 2002, following 911, an astonishing 82% approved of Congress (the biggest outlier in the history of the polling question, which dates back to the founding of the country). That year, 96% reelected their congressman. Of course, a mere year before 911, in 2000, 40% approved of Congress but 98% were reelected. And so on, and so forth.

Generally speaking, about 2/3s of people hate Congress and about 4/5s of people vote their congressmen back into office. Those numbers twerk a little (boyaah), but not really, in the grand scheme of things.

So, next time someone expresses consternation at the legislature, ask them if they’re going to consider voting for whatever guy is in the party opposite the party their incumbent is in, particularly if they had voted for that incumbent last time.

I dare you.

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