Throwing the Bums Out?

Despite slogans from the populist movements on the right calling on voters to "throw the bums out," that is to say, to defeat all Congressional incumbents, 86% of the bums who were up for reelection in 2010 actually kept their jobs, as Catherine Rampell points out at the New York Times Economix blog. Taken as a whole, incumbents took 65% of the vote this year, just a bit lower than the 68% that they have averaged since 1972. Rampell seems to take this to mean that 2010 wasn't a bad year for incumbents.

Yet, given their tremendous advantages in fund-raising and name-recognition, and the fact that many sit in districts gerrymandered to make them nearly impossible for the incumbent party to lose, 14% is a remarkably high rate of loss. Indeed, as the graph below shows, this year was, by far, the worst year for incumbents since 1972, blowing away the so-called "revolution" of 1994.

SSDAN Office

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