A January 29 Gallup poll found 59% of Americans believe their own U.S. representative deserves reelection, while just 35% say the same for “most” members of Congress. Both numbers are the highest they have been since 2012, when 60% wanted their own member of Congress to be reelected and 37% wanted members of Congress overall to be reelected. Both Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (61%) and Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (60%) believe their own congressmen deserves reelection, but the parties unsurprisingly differ when it comes to most members of Congress overall. Forty-three percent of Democrats say that most members of Congress deserve reelection, while only 29% of Republicans say the same.
So what does this mean for the battle for control of Congress? Gallup says reelection rates were at their high points between 1998 to 2004, when Americans’ support for their own representative and most members of Congress was high as well. Reelection rates fell from 98% in 2004 to 85% by 2010, and at the same time, so did public support for members' reelection.
If Republicans are to re-take the House of Representatives, they need to do it district by district for they will not be bolstered by a national wave, at least not today. Unless the choice of the Democratic presidential nominee changes these numbers, a one-size-fits-all approach to every race will fail. Republicans must offer candidates that fit each targeted districts, people who focus on issues that matter to the district and highlight the current member’s extreme positions. For as of today, the battle for the House is a series of individual contests, not a wave election.