Monday, September 11, 2006

Anti-Incumbent Spirit Runs High

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (AP) - Dissatisfied with Congress, voters would probably hang a "Help Wanted" sign on the U.S. Capitol if given the chance.

"They're not doing their job," says Scott Newland, 39, an independent voter who backed President Bush in 2004.

The factory worker had harsh words for congressional Republicans and Democrats as he helped close his sister's New Castle deli one recent evening. "You need people that care. They don't care."

Such angry sentiments echo up and down the Ohio River Valley as it cuts through Republican-held congressional districts in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio - politically pivotal House seats in an election year in which Democrats hope to end 12 years in the minority.

At lunch counters, post offices, city parks and downtown streets, voters in this region and nationally are quick to voice their frustration with the GOP-controlled Congress, and their desire for more responsive replacements for the current crop of lawmakers.

It's a general disgust that may lead to firings of some politicians on Nov. 7. People already have hinted as much in Republican and Democratic primaries.

Kenny Brown, an independent, knows precisely what he's looking for in a congressman. "Somebody who cares for the working man," the supermarket employee, 66, says before picking up his mail at the PeeWee Valley, Ky., post office.

Judging by the past few years, Brown said, Bush and Republicans don't care. "Maybe the Democrats do, or maybe they don't."

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With congressional elections less two months away, the public is consistently giving the GOP-run Congress dismal marks. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll in August found that only 29 percent of the public approve of the job Congress is doing.

A CNN poll earlier this month found that 55 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for the challenger in any election this fall. And an ABC News/Washington Post poll in August found that 53 percent of Americans call themselves "anti-incumbent," a figure as high as it was in the summer 1994 shortly before Republicans seized control from Democrats.

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