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U.S. Voters' Eagerness to Reelect Incumbents Near Lows

U.S. Voters' Eagerness to Reelect Incumbents Near Lows

Story Highlights

  • 53% say their representative deserves reelection
  • 21% believe most members of Congress deserve reelection
  • One-third of voters think Joe Biden deserves reelection

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A slim majority of U.S. registered voters, 53%, say their representative in Congress deserves reelection, while 41% disagree. The percentage endorsing reelection is similar to what Gallup has measured in its final preelection reading in most recent midterm election years, ranging from 50% in 2018 to 54% in 2006 -- except for 1998 and 2002, when voters were much more positive about reelecting their representative.


It has not been uncommon for the party holding the majority of seats to change after recent midterm elections, and that has typically occurred when voters were less inclined to support their own representative. The Democratic Party lost its majority after the 1994 and 2010 elections, while the Republican Party did so in 2006 and 2018.

Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, the political context this year appears to be much more favorable to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, based on a number of key Gallup national mood indicators.

In 1998 and 2002, when more than two-thirds of voters thought their member deserved reelection, there was relatively little turnover in congressional membership, and the Republican Party was able to hold on to its House majority.

It is not possible to reliably determine whether respondents in the June 1-20 poll are currently represented by a Democrat or a Republican in the U.S. House. However, the poll does find that voters who identify politically as Democrats or are Democratic-leaning independents (60%) are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners (49%) to say their member deserves reelection. These results indicate that Democrats are much more inclined than others to want to keep the political status quo.

Electorate Thinks Most Representatives Do Not Deserve Reelection

U.S. voters can decide only whether their own representative, if seeking reelection, gets another term. But voters are much less inclined to believe that most members of Congress deserve reelection than to think their own member does. In the latest poll, 21% of registered voters say most members of Congress are worthy of another term, while 77% disagree.

The current figure is similar to the 23% measured just before the 2014 election, the lowest to date in Gallup's trend for a final midterm election reading. An earlier 2014 measure, from January, found a record-low 17% saying most members deserved reelection.

Typically, less than half of voters think that most members deserve reelection, including 29% in 2018 and 33% in 2010. The major exceptions were 1998 and 2002, when 58% and 57% of voters, respectively, thought that most members deserved reelection.


Thirty percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 13% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say most members deserve reelection. This gap is consistent with the pattern whereby supporters of the majority party in Congress are more likely to favor another term for most members. However, the 30% of Democrats currently holding that view is on the low end of what Gallup has measured for the majority party in the past. In the 2014 midterm election year, as well as the 2012 and 2016 presidential years, between 19% and 30% of Republicans and Republican leaners thought most members of Congress deserved reelection.

Voters Sour on a Biden Second Term

Although President Joe Biden is not on the ballot this year, he would have a hard time getting reelected if he were. Currently, 33% of registered voters say Biden deserves reelection, while 67% say he does not. The 33% reelect figure is significantly lower than his 41% job approval rating.

Biden is not alone among incumbent presidents in lacking public support for a second term during the spring or early summer months of a midterm election year, but his 33% is lower than for others at similar points in their presidencies.

  • In April 2018, 37% of voters thought Donald Trump deserved a second term.
  • In June 2010, 46% of voters endorsed a second term for Barack Obama; however, by October of that year, the number had fallen to 37%.
  • In April 1994, 40% of voters thought Bill Clinton was deserving of reelection.

Obama's and Clinton's public support recovered enough over the ensuing two years that they were reelected, while Trump lost his bid for a second term.

George W. Bush was in a much stronger position in his first midterm election year, with 69% of voters in May 2002 thinking he should be reelected. Bush won a second term in the 2004 presidential election.

Currently, 71% of Democratic registered voters, 27% of independents and 3% of Republicans think Biden deserves reelection. The reelect figures among independents and Democrats are nine and 14 points lower, respectively, than his job approval rating among those groups.


Few election forecasters would dispute that Republicans have a good chance of regaining control of the House of Representatives, if not also the Senate, this year. Democrats hold a narrow majority in both chambers, and the political environment strongly favors the GOP, with Americans dissatisfied with the state of the nation at a time when Democrats have control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.

Even if the Democratic margins in Congress were larger or the political environment was less favorable to the Republican Party, the Democratic majorities would still be in trouble, with a bare majority of U.S. voters saying their own representative deserves reelection and a near-record low saying most members do. Those figures have in recent years portended a shakeup in control of Congress.

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