Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Don’t Hold Your Breath for an Anti-Incumbent Election

Surveys over the past couple of weeks have shown former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) ahead of Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) by 8 points, Andy Harris (R) leading Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) by 13 points, former Rep. Tim Walberg (R) leading Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) by 10 points and former Rep. Steve Chabot (R) leading Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) by a whopping 17 points.

In addition, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) leads unknown challenger Randy Altschuler (R) by only 2 points, while controversial Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is drawing 55 percent in an early ballot test against state Sen. Tarryl Clark (D).

Even if only most of these results are close to being accurate, they suggest that other Democratic House incumbents are seeing significant erosion in their numbers from what those same numbers were even a year ago.

Over in the Senate, Democratic numbers are equally terrible.

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid are sitting with unfavorable ratings larger than their favorable ratings. Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who would be crushed if this year’s political environment resembled that of the 2006 or 2008 cycle, is running even or ahead of his potential Democratic opponents, and Democratic prospects over the past year have deteriorated in Ohio and Missouri.

Polling in North Carolina is particularly instructive. Recent surveys continue to show roughly equal numbers of respondents approving and disapproving of the job Sen. Richard Burr (R) is doing. But even with those mediocre numbers, Burr is holding clear (if unintimidating) leads over his potential general election opponents.

The bottom line on all of this seems pretty clear: Voters are not enamored of incumbents of either party, and GOP incumbents or “establishment” candidates facing strong “outsider” primary opponents could be in for more rough sledding than they would normally need to expect.

But when the general election rolls around, unless there is a significant change in the national mood, voter dissatisfaction will be aimed overwhelmingly at the candidates of one party. And that is why Democratic insiders are privately raising their own estimates of party losses.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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