Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

With this last election, 87 percent of House incumbents who chose to run for re-election got re-elected.

That’s low by modern standards. In fact, it’s the lowest since 1970, which garnered 85 percent rates for incumbents.

But it’s high by older standards. Eric O’Keefe, of the Sam Adams Alliance, says that the re-election rate may be low today but remains higher “than every election of the 19th century.”

Something changed. Individual career politicians gained the upper hand.

On the brighter side, it’s worth noting that if you include “voluntary retirement” in current figures, the turnover rate was much higher. Forty-five open House seats saw 16 flips of party affiliation, all but one going from Democrat to Republican. This leads Doug Mataconis to figure the retention rate at 64 percent. (Still, in the 19th century, that same rate averaged to under 60 percent.)

Of course, many of our recent “voluntary retirees” may have seen the writing on the wall, preferring to bow out with more dignity than an electoral trouncing would allow.

Credit this to an exceptional frisson amongst the voting public, born of anger and disgust at the political class’s habitual over-spending and general foolishness.

It remains to be seen whether this acuity of citizen focus can alone spur continued turnover and real change. It seems unlikely, which is why I’ve long supported term limits.

But, whatever the source, real change is necessary. And the current turnover, welcome.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

3 Comments

  1. Drik says:

    Real change will certainly occur just as soon as power no longer corrupts.

  2. Werner says:

    Sorry for the length of this post but copy/paste into Excel and you’ll see intesting trend in California’s run-away budget. You’ll notice it bounces up & down, dips in the few years after term limits are enacted (1991-92)and goes crazy 8-10 years after. I maintain that, once both the Assembly and Senate were “flushed”, the new members realized they no longer had to pay attention to the voters but the opportunity to feather their post-office beds. They got CLOSER to special interests instead of being the “citizen legislators” term limits were supposed to bring. Much better than term limits is radical redistricting.

    Column 1 = Fiscal year
    Column 2 = Raw CA budget
    Column 3 = Budget adjusted for inflation
    Column 4 = Budget adjusted for inflation & population

    1970-71 6.6 38.8 71.0
    1971-72 6.7 37.2 68.1
    1972-73 7.4 39.4 70.8
    1973-74 9.3 47.9 85.1
    1974-75 10.3 50.0 87.6
    1975-76 11.5 50.3 86.8
    1976-77 12.6 50.5 85.6
    1977-78 14.0 53.0 88.4
    1978-79 18.8 66.9 109.3
    1979-80 21.5 71.0 113.7
    1980-81 24.5 72.8 114.4
    1981-82 25.0 65.4 101.0
    1982-83 25.3 60.0 90.3
    1983-84 26.8 59.8 88.1
    1984-85 31.0 67.1 96.7
    1985-86 35.0 72.6 102.7
    1986-87 38.1 76.3 105.5
    1987-88 40.5 79.6 107.4
    1988-89 44.6 84.6 111.3
    1989-90 48.6 88.5 113.7
    1990-91 51.4 89.3 111.7
    1991-92 55.7 91.8 112.6
    1992-93 57.0 90.2 108.2
    1993-94 52.1 80.0 94.4
    1994-95 57.5 85.7 100.2
    1995-96 56.8 82.5 95.8
    1996-97 61.5 86.9 100.2
    1997-98 67.2 92.3 105.3
    1998-99 71.9 96.5 108.5
    1999-00 81.3 107.4 119.0
    2000-01 99.4 128.5 140.2
    2001-02 103.3 129.2 139.4
    2002-03 98.9 120.3 127.4
    2003-04 98.9 118.4 123.8
    2004-05 105.3 123.3 127.4
    2005-06 117.3 133.7 136.8
    2006-07 131.4 144.9 147.2

  3. 50s cars says:

    I voted for my incumbent congressman because A he was not a Democrat, B) because he voted the way I would have, and C) he was new in 2008. I also held my nose and voted for the Republican Senate candidate who I know to be a RINO, mainly because as a pal of mine who is a lobbiest in Springfield and knows both of them well stated: “One is a shameless, barefaced Liar; The other one is also a shameless, barefaced liar, and a crook on top of it”.

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