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January 7th, 2010 11:21 am
As the President Goes, So Goes Congress
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The arrival of 2010 ushers in yet another federal election.  This year, every seat in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate is up for grabs.

A new study from the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies demonstrates that President Obama’s approval rating could determine the fate of his strong Democratic majorities in Congress.

Public Opinion studied midterm election results and presidential job approval numbers from 1962 to 2006.  The results aren’t too surprising, but they are nevertheless discouraging for the current party in power.

Even a strong approval mark of 60% has only historically garnered the president’s party one seat in the House.  For example, President Ronald Reagan had a 63% approval rating in 1986, but Republicans still managed to lose five seats in Congress that year.

An average approval rating of 50% to 59% historically results in an average loss of 12 seats.  President Obama’s current approval rating is 50%.

If his approval rating dips below 50%, he may be welcoming Speaker John Boehner in 2011.  When the president’s approval rating falls below the Mendoza Line (50%) for politicians, his party loses an average of 41 seats, or one more than Republicans currently need to take back the lower chamber.

Generally, a president’s popularity and tenure in Congress are inexorably linked.  When November arrives, President Obama will learn that lesson anew.

Stay tuned for more coverage by CFIF on the 2010 elections.

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