Low Congressional Approval Rating, Higher Voter Participation?

People often complain about low voter turnout in the United States, and propose various solutions to stimulate electoral participation. Here’s one they may have missed: Keep congressional approval ratings low. According to polling company Gallup, the greater the public’s discontent with Congress, the higher the participation in midterm elections. Since 1994, turnout has exceeded 40 percent when the congressional approval rating was between 20 and 30 percent, but turnout dipped below 40 percent when the approval rating was above 40 percent. This relationship did not exist before 1994, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. “Since 1994, voters may have a greater belief that they can change the federal government and its policies by their choices of members of Congress in midterm elections. That belief in turn may help drive up turnout when voters feel a change is needed”, Gallup writes.

Gallup: Disapproval of Congress Linked to Higher Voter Turnout

Will the President Seek Approval for ISIS Strikes? What Would Congress Say?

The White House has not said whether it would seek congressional authorization for the use of force against the Islamic State, a terrorist group operating in Syria and Iraq. On Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters “I’m not going to speculate about what sort of congressional approval would be requested or required based on a military action that hasn’t been ordered at this point. The administration remains committed to consulting with Members of Congress.”

Although Members of Congress have joined world leaders and private citizens in voicing their horror at the execution of American journalist James Foley, a number have said that Congress needs to provide authorization for further military action. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia issued a statement on Monday, saying, “This fight, and the threat posed by ISIL, is serious enough that Congress and the Administration must be united on U.S. policy going forward. I urge the Administration to use the next two weeks to clearly define the strategy and objectives of its mission against ISIL, then bring it to Congress for a debate and authorization vote.” Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland said, “I don’t think the President can continue beyond the War Powers authorization without an authorization from Congress.”

Despite some congressional demands that the President seek authorization for additional attacks, how exactly the legislature will respond is unclear. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib, when Congress returns from recess, “one of the things it has to do is decide whether it wants to weigh in on the question of what should the United States should do to stop the threat from Islamic State” in Iraq and then maybe Syria. He says that Congress could consider a number of options, including voting to approve or disapprove the strikes already taken, or vote only if further actions are taken, or refuse to address the issue altogether.

The White House: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 8/25/2014

Senator Tim Kaine: Kaine Statement on Expanded U.S. Military Operations Against ISIL

Voice of America: US Lawmakers Urge Obama to Expand Military Action Against Islamic State

Wall Street Journal: Seib Video: Congress’s Impending Decision on Iraq

And for our latest post: Perry’s Veto Case: A New–and Potentially Dangerous–Form of Judicial Review?