How to End a Failing Relationship

May 10

Ending failing relationships in our personal lives can be very difficult. However, it appears to be even harder for us to end failing relationships with Members of Congress.

The Center for Responsive Politics notes that 93 percent of U.S. Senators were re-elected in 2016. Meanwhile, when Americans were asked whether they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, only 18 percent said they approved. So where is the disconnect?

There are many theories on why this contradiction exists. Political experts have studied it for decades and even have a name for it: Fenno’s paradox. One article suggests that, “Voters tend to know more about their representative than about Congress itself, and their views of the former are based on what they feel their member has done for the district and individual constituents. The typical constituent’s view is, ‘Our member is a smart, hard-working and caring person. It’s the rest of them who are a bunch of lazy bums.’” So, do we North Dakotans believe that each of our senators “is a smart, hard-working and caring person”? Let’s see.

What do North Dakotans think of Senator John Hoeven? A 2017 poll showed that he had a 66 percent approval rating – among the top ten highest senator ratings in the nation.

Now let’s compare. In a poll just released by Morning Consult, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp received an approval rating of 44 percent, which plummeted from 60 percent in July of 2017, less than a year ago. This most recent poll shows the number of people who believe she should get another term is at 35% and dropping. Remember, she won her Senate seat by less than 3,000 votes over Representative Rick Berg in 2012. That’s less than one percent of the roughly 323,000 North Dakotans who voted in that election!

Do you see the problem here? Not only do we in North Dakota most likely not approve of the job Congress is doing, like most of the nation, we also aren’t happy about one of the senators we sent there. Whose fault is that? We can’t control which senators are elected to Congress from other states and which of these may contribute to our overall dissatisfaction with Congress, but we can control who we send from North Dakota.

I think the solution is pretty clear. If you don’t like Senator Heitkamp’s performance and her stance on issues that are important to you, such as pro-family and pro-life values (e.g., she is on record as being very pro-abortion), you need someone else representing you in Washington. It’s all up to you now.

Mark Jorritsma
President & Executive Director