As Obama's approval numbers crumbles to newer levels of low, those who'd front for the president lament in the knowledge that he is electable no longer. Some attempt to take solace however, in citing the historically low approval of Congress as well. Perhaps this a sign that opponents will be seen as equally undesirable; that a glimmer of reelection hope would yet remain upon a level-field of equally dispersed scorn.
There is are fallacies within this retreat however.
Problem #1: Congress is a multi-headed hydra.
-Ask say, a Missourian what he thinks of "congress" and he'll likely tell you that he disapproves. Ask him what he thinks of HIS congressman and you might get a completely different answer.
Problem #2: Only constituents matter.
-Individual congressman don't need to worry about what the entire nation thinks of them. As such, congressional approval has varying degrees of relevance based on the one's area of their district.
Problem #3: Its much less visible compared to executive elections.
-Unlike the president, whose every move is tracked and every multi-issue approval rating is daily documented, for the hydra that is congress, data on the approval of a specific member is difficult to track unless he's been making headlines as of late. Even then, these approvals take the nation into account as well, a repeat of same flaw of Problem #2.
Take this relatively recent poll on Paul Ryan for instance. Bear in mind, most congressmen are not tracked at all.
Congress has always possessed relatively low approval ratings as an entire entity due to such issues. Therefore, a clear understanding of the entity is generally on display only at around election time, when a map detailing the race of specific districts is on display, creating a clearer picture over who is in politcAL safety and who is at risk.
Unfortunately, such maps are scarcely maintained afterwords in a manner that enables us to tell for whom congress' approval is a particularly bad omen. Citing the approval of Congress, an entity with 535 differing people composed of it, therefore holds 535 differing cases of electoral correlation. If you are Barny Frank (who won his 2008 re-election 52 to 43%), the approval of the congress may mean little to you. If you hailed from a contestable area district, then perhaps it would correlate with your elective outlook.
One thing is for certain however:. The congressional rating tells nothing of the Presidential election. His ratings on the other hand, do. And right now, were the election today, Obama would lose. Simple as that.
There is no solace in blaming Congress.