Anti-incumbency sentiment is at unprecedented levels, according to a recent USA Today-Gallup survey, spelling trouble for the Democratic majority in Congress and foreshadowing a reversal of the Congressional balance of power in this November's mid-term elections.
A worrisome indicator for Congressional Democrats: Only 28 percent of all respondents said they believed most members of Congress deserved to be re-elected. That represents a new nadir for Congressional incumbents; the previous low was 29 percent in October of 1992.
In context, in both 1994 and 2006 --when Congressional majorities were overturned-- around 40 percent of all voters believed most members of Congress deserved to be re-elected. When Republicans retained their majorities in 1998 and 2002, that indicator held strong at 55 percent or higher.
An equally dismaying statistic for Congressional incumbents, 65 percent of all respondents believe most members of Congress do not deserve to be re-elected, the highest that indicator has ever been in Gallup history, suggesting record levels of disillusionment with Congress.
Further underscoring the extent of anti-incumbency sentiment, only 49 percent of Gallup respondents believed their own Congressional members deserved to be re-elected, another record-low on the brink of a mid-term election.
The state of the economy appears to be the primary issue on voters' minds. 57 percent of all poll respondents said the economy would be an "extremely important" voting determinant come November. Health care, unemployment and the federal budget deficit were all trumped in importance by the state of the economy as a whole.
This year's polling results differ markedly from those in 2006, the year of the last mid-term election, when Iraq, terrorism and other international concerns were far more salient.
The USA-Today Gallup poll included 968 registered voters and took place from March 26-28, with a margin of error of four percentage points.