Anti-Incumbency Not the Issue
Republican pollster Glenn Bolger — and, full disclosure, my wife’s boss (or, at least, one of them) — argues that those who chalk up yesterday’s defeats of Arlen Specter and others to “anti-incumbency” are missing the real story:
And an anti-incumbent mood definitely exists. Voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress, and say all incumbents should be turned out.
However, with the exception of Mollohan, the nomination defeats (or major troubles at this point for Lincoln), are politicians who were punished for their votes and efforts that strayed from the party line. My polling for Republican incumbents who face challengers show that most are in strong shape to win renomination because they are generally perceived as fighting the Obama-Pelosi efforts to increase the size and scope of government, and to spend money in a way that makes previous administrations seem Scrooge-like.
Not every incumbent is endangered for renomination. However, those who face anger from the grassroots, coupled with a challenger candidate with the resources to get their message out, have challenges.
That strikes me as exactly right. After all, most incumbents who run this year will get re-elected. The difference between an “anti-incumbent wave” and a normal cycle is a re-election rate of 85% rather than 95%.