Midterms bring political newcomers to Congress

website - zachary toillionOne of the most notable changes that could come from the midterm elections is the sheer number of new people that will be representing the American electorate on January 3, 2015.

There are a record number of retirements this year. In the Senate, eight will be retiring and 24 from the House. 13 House members gave up their seats to run for Senate. An additional three House members were defeated in their primaries, the most notable of which being former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. An additional seven resigned for various reasons. Four governors are being term limited out of office, one retired, one who lost his gubernatorial primary and an additional 11 governor re-election races remain within the margin of error.

According to the most recent polling, seven Senate incumbents have races within the margin of error. Up to 16 members may lose their seats in the House, according to most political prognosticators. All in all, this creates a national environment where Americans could be represented by up to 96 new members in the House, Senate and governorships. This has the potential to outpace the 60+ new members swept into Congress in the 2010 Republican electoral wave and may have to do with the abysmal job approval rating of Congress.

According to Gallup, only 14 percent of Americans approve while 82 percent disapprove. Voters are also down on both political parties. In the most recent CBS poll, only 29 percent of voters expressed favorability toward the Republican Party while 62 percent expressed unfavorable views. The Democratic Party fared slightly better, but were still underwater with voters. The same survey found 41 percent had favorable views of the Democratic party while 51 percent viewed the party unfavorably. The numbers of the Democratic Party correlate almost exactly with those of President Obama, viewed favorably by 42 percent and unfavorably by 52 percent, according to a Fox News poll conducted the same week. When these polls are taken in conjunction, it is reasonable to conclude voters are dissatisfied with the current political incumbents in Washington and would explain why there may be so many new members in January.

Unlike 2010, the party that will benefit remains largely split. More Democrats have retired in the Senate and even more incumbent Democrat Senators are in danger, but the vast majority of endangered governors are Republicans elected in 2010. In the House, retirements are fairly evenly divided.

The 2014 election is unique in just how many races are competitive. Over 20 statewide contests remain too close to call less than a month before the election. The only thing we can say with certainty is that many of the people sworn in on January 3, 2015 will be new faces.

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