2012 Election Could See Bigger "Wave" Than 2010

Barely 1 in 5 voters think their representative should be reelected.

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Brace yourself for a swing to the left, America.

In the wake of 2010's anti-incumbent fervor and Republican "wave," Americans may be more enthusiastic than ever about dumping their representatives in Washington. Polling firm Gallup yesterday reported that just 21 percent of registered voters (margin of error four points) believe that most members of Congress deserve to be reelected, an all-time low in the poll's 20-year history. Another poll released yesterday by CNN and opinion research firm ORC International showed that just 41 percent of all Americans and 45 percent of registered voters believe that their own representatives deserve to be reelected, and 25 percent of all Americans and 23 percent of registered voters believe that most members should be reelected (margin of error 4.5 points). When compared to a similar Pew Research Center poll from November 2009, those results suggest that voter discontent is great enough to bring about a larger "wave" election in 2012 than in 2010. At that time, 52 percent of registered voters wanted to see their own representatives reelected, and 34 percent wanted "most representatives" reelected.

The CNN poll suggests that members of both parties are in danger, but that Republicans have lost significantly more ground than Democrats. Forty-seven percent of Americans currently view the Democratic Party favorably, up three percentage points from almost a year ago. Meanwhile, 33 percent of Americans view Republicans favorably, down 12 percentage points from September 2010. [Read why the Tea Party wants Boehner to recall congress.]

Polling data also shows growing anti-Tea Party sentiment. The CNN poll shows the movement's unfavorability to be at an all-time high, 51 percent. A new Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll also shows growing Tea Party opposition. Twenty-nine percent of respondents told Pew that Congress members who support the Tea Party have had a negative effect, compared to 18 percent who said in January that they thought the movement would have a negative effect (margin of error 4 points).

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