There is data confirming the popular belief that ordinary Americans hate Congress.
By my count just 18 out of 100 U.S. Senators had approval ratings over 50% in 4th Quarter 2019. Therefore, 82 out of 100, or 82% of Senators cannot get over half their constituents to like them.
I based my calculation on The Morning Consult’s Senator Approval Rankings. I think Morning Consult’s findings show the idea that most Americans are comfortable with their Congresspeople is false.
Most Americans Dislike Congress
Instead, most Americans dislike; or disapprove, of their Senators.
For example, Morning Consult gives U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) an approval rating of 45% and a disapproval rating of 30%. However, Morning Consult reports 25% of those polled have no opinion about Alexander. Therefore, 55% of Tennesseans do not give Alexander approval.
The lack of approval; or interest, applies to both Democrats and Republicans. For example, Morning Consult gives U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) a 46% approval rating.
However, Morning Consult gives Baldwin a 37% disapproval rating. Additionally, 17% of Wisconsin residents gave no opinion of Baldwin. Thus, 54% of Wisconsin residents surveyed refuse to give Baldwin their approval.
Morning Consult finds the low levels of Senate approval all over the United States. For instance, U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) had an approval rating of 47%, a disapproval rating of 37%, and a 17% no opinion rating.
Small States Love their Senators
The only pattern I could detect in Morning Consult’s data is that small population state residents love their Senators.
The best-loved U.S. Senator; for example, is Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), for instance. Morning Consult gave Sanders a 65% approval rating. The US Census Bureau estimates Vermont had a population of 623,989 people on 1 July 2019.
The second best-loved U.S. Senator was John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) with an approval level of 64%. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Wyoming had a population of 578,759 on 1 July.
Furthermore, the third most popular U.S. Senator was Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and the fourth most popular U.S. Senator was Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).
My theory is that people in small states are more likely to meet their Senators in person. Hence, Vermont or Wyoming residents know their Senators as people rather than just faces on TV.
Big States hate their Senators
Tellingly, there were no Senators from high population states on Morning Consult’s list of 10 most popular Senators.
In fact, the highest population state on that list was Minnesota with 5.612 million people on 1 July 2019. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) had an approval rating of 56%.
Moreover, I could find no high-population Senator with an approval rating over 49%. For instance, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had a 49% approval rating and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) each had an approval rating of 42%.
My guess is that high population state Senators are less popular because they have few opportunities to meet most of their constituents. Cruz; for example, probably rarely visits smaller cities such as Amarillo and and Waco.
Sanders, on the other hand, can easily visit every town in Vermont. Hence, breaking big states up into several smaller jurisdictions could make the Senate more popular.
Nor does having power in Congress help Senators back home. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had an approval rating of 37% and a disapproval rating of 50%. Yet Sanders, who refuses to join either party is the most popular Senator.
Senate Hatred and Impeachment
The unavoidable conclusion here is that Americans dislike the U.S. Senate, and by inference Congress.
I think the dislike of the Senate could affect impeachment. For instance, Republicans who admire President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) will develop a greater dislike of Senators they see grilling their hero. Likewise, Democrats who hate Trump will despise Senators who defend the President.
Hence, it could be impossible for Trump to get a fair trial or hearing in the U.S. Senate. To explain, Senators will vote the way they think their voters want rather than do the right thing.
Hence, a Republican Senator who thinks Trump is guilty could vote against impeachment. Meanwhile, a Democrat who thinks Trump is innocent could vote to impeach.
Mitch McConnell shows why Americans hate the Senate
In fact, McConnell; who has a 37% approval rating in Kentucky, claims to be coordinating a defense of Trump with the White House. In 2016, Trump received 62.5% of the vote in Kentucky, The New York Times estimates.
Notably, McConnell faces reelection this year. I think fear of loss, not a belief in Trump’s innocence motivates McConnell’s aggressive defense of the president.
A strong possibility is that McConnell is trying to impress Trump to get a job. Probably the Vice Presidency. There is media speculation Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) could resign. To explain, if McConnell joins Trump’s reelection ticket he could avoid an embarrassing defeat by not campaigning for reelection.
I think blatantly partisan and self-serving behavior; such as that of McConnell, will turn more Americans against the Senate. Given the behavior of their leaders it is easy to see why so many Americans despise Senators.
Thus, impeachment could increase the displeasure with the Senate and cost Senators of both parties their seats, no matter the process ends. I have to wonder how American democracy can survive with high levels of dislike for so many of our legislators?
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on January 24, 2020.