Wyoming voters seldom blame their lawmakers for the problems in Washington, said James King, head of the political science department at the University of Wyoming.
Only 10 percent of Americans approve of Congress, according to a recent Gallop Poll. But the nation’s disdain for lawmakers doesn’t follow them back home, King said.
“For a long time we’ve known that people love their members of Congress but hate their Congress as a whole,” he said. “It’s not a new trend. Polling data going back to the 1960s proves it.”
So even though the issues change, the sentiments of constituents do not.
In the past seven months, the nation has dealt with the so-called fiscal cliff, sequestration and the debt ceiling. Congress’ lack of punctuality on dealing with some of the nation’s most pressing issues creates a perception among people that the system is broken, King said.
The contempt for Congress might be high, King said, but re-election rates are 90 percent.
Instead of running on platforms that cater to constituents' needs, many members of Congress who go back home to campaign say they are fighting to fix what’s wrong in Washington even though they’ve been in office at least one term, King said.
Members of the current Wyoming congressional delegation are no strangers to reflecting their constituents' concerns in nation's capital. All three have been re-elected two times.
Sen. Mike Enzi won his third term in the Senate with more than 76 percent of the vote in 2008. Sen. John Barrasso won with 90 percent of the vote, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis won with more than 68 percent of the vote in 2012.
Once people cast a ballot, they’re comfortable with their own decisions, said Robin Van Ausdall, director of the Wyoming Democratic Party.
“People think, ‘It couldn’t be my fault,’” she said.
Even though constituents may support their members of Congress, there’s been an erosion in people’s overall faith in government, she said.
“A lot of money has been spent on the narrative that government doesn’t work,” she said.
The problem with Congress is that the average American doesn’t have a say in the political system, Van Ausdall said. Regardless of party affiliation, campaign finance has the biggest influence on Congress, she said.
“Congress is doing an excellent job of representing people who pay for their campaigns,” she said.
The national mood in Congress is not representative of the Wyoming delegation, said Bill Novotny, a Wyoming GOP Central Committee member.
“We have three members who aren’t in it for personal gain,” he said. “They come home every weekend and hear about the issues.”
Wyomingites know their congressmen and congresswomen and share their values, King said.
“In the case of Representative Lummis, there are 434 others we didn’t vote for in the House,” he said. “We’re comfortable with the ones who share our values but we disagree with many of the others.”
Members of the nation’s two largest political parties differ on which chamber of Congress is doing a better job. Republicans in Wyoming often take aim at the Democrat-controlled Senate.
There’s an inability by the majority of lawmakers in the Senate to pass legislation that will benefit the public, said Tammy Hooper, chairwoman of the Wyoming GOP.
Hooper thinks differently about the Republican-controlled House.
“I think the House is serving people,” she said.