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Gallup: Eric Cantor's defeat the first of many more for incumbents

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Polls,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Economy,Eric Cantor,Approval Ratings

Gallup has put House and Senate incumbents on the politically endangered list, predicting that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's upset defeat last week will be repeated around the nation because election indicators are at historic lows.

“Cantor's defeat last Tuesday can serve as a pointed reminder for incumbents seeking re-election of just how vulnerable they may be this year,” warned Gallup.

The polling giant's warning is being echoed by another influential Hill watcher, University of Virginia's Larry Sabato, whose “Crystal Ball” newsletter has just put Democrats on the hit list. He suggests that House Republicans could pick up five to eight seats and Senate Republicans up to eight seats, giving them a majority.

Gallup said that the congressional approval rating has dropped to 16 percent, the lowest since the ratings began in 1974. For comparison, that is lower than the 22 percent approval rating in 1994, when Republicans broke decades of Democratic rule to win the House majority, and the 26 percent rating in 2006, when Democrats took back control.

But it’s not just Congress’ job approval that has Americans upset — and poised to punish Congress as a result.

Gallup found that the public is more dissatisfied than ever with the direction of the country. Just 23 percent said they are satisfied.

President Obama's bad approval rating will also be a drag on the Democrats. Gallup has Obama at 44 percent, a bad omen. “Only two presidents have had lower job approval ratings in recent midterm elections -- George W. Bush in 2006 and Ronald Reagan in 1982. In those years, the president's party lost more than 20 seats ... underscoring the peril the president's party faces when his approval rating is below 50 percent,” said Gallup.

“The political environment in which the 2014 elections are being contested promises to be difficult for congressional incumbents, as public attitudes on key indicators that predict election outcomes are comparatively worse than in prior midterm election years. The likelihood of significant improvement in any of these indicators between now and the fall is fairly low; the dominant trend for congressional approval, presidential approval, and satisfaction is that the measures become more negative by the eve of the midterm elections than they were in January of the same year,” concluded Gallup.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.