Congress's rating could boost turnout

Congress’s low approval rating could drive more voters to the polls in November’s midterm elections, according to a new Gallup poll.

Voter turnout exceeded 40 percent in three of the last five midterm elections — 1994, 2006 and 2010 — when Congress’s approval was low. Its ratings during those years were 23, 26 and 21 percent. 

Less than 40 percent of voters cast ballots in the 1998 and 2002 midterm elections when more than 40 percent of the public approved of Congress. 

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Only 13 percent of the public currently approve of Congress, on pace to be the lowest rating in a midterm election year, Gallup said. 

A near-record low of 19 percent of registered voters said their members of Congress deserve reelection.

In the 1994, 2006 and 2010 elections when turnout exceeded 40 percent, majority control of the House changed. Those elections, however, occurred when an unpopular president served with a Congress dominated by the same party. 

President Obama currently has a 42-percent approval rating. He received 45 percent approval in 2010, when Republicans regained control of the House.

While Gallup acknowledged the GOP will almost certainly hold on to its House majority, the polling firm also said it's unclear whether this pattern could predict whether Republicans could win the Senate. 

The poll surveyed 1,032 adults between Aug. 7 to 10 with a 4 percentage point margin of error.

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