Voters typically take a dim view of Congress in general, but approve of their own representative's performance on Capitol Hill.

But as Congress' ratings have tanked -- as that body dithered through a partial federal shutdown and a near-default on the nation's debts -- nearly four in 10 voters say their own representative should be replaced, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The poll was conducted Oct. 9-13, during the shutdown and the mounting debt-ceiling crisis, so antipathy toward Congress could subside before 2014's primary elections.

Then again, it may not.

Night falls on the US Capitol on the eve of a potential government shutdown, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA, 30 September 2013. The US government
Night falls on the US Capitol on the eve of a potential government shutdown, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA, 30 September 2013. The US government will shutdown beginning 01 October 2013 if the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives fail to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government. The Senate has so far rejected a House version of the resolution that included language limiting the Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare'. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

And that could mean that a number of incumbents actually have some cause for concern. In September 2005, only 25 percent of voters wanted to see their own Congress member ousted in the 2006 midterm elections; that number grew to 29 percent before the 2010 midterm races.

Right now, it stands at 38 percent.

Moreover, 74 percent of the registered voters polled would like to see most members of Congress defeated, which indicates an all-time high in dissatisfaction.

If ever there was a time for intelligent, qualified people to come to the aid of their country, this is it.

Congress in general was viewed favorably by just 23 percent. (Honestly, we wonder how nearly a quarter of voters could view Congress favorably; who are these people?)


Advertisement

Fifty-eight percent agreed that "the political system can work fine, it's the members of Congress that are the problem."

A whopping 81 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, compared to 14 percent who are satisfied.

The percentage feeling satisfied dropped nearly by half since July and is now at the lowest level since the financial crisis took hold in late 2008.

Clearly the voters are upset and in the mood for a change. But for that to happen they must be given some sort of reasonable alternative. Alas, that has often been the problem in the East Bay.

In our extensive experience interviewing candidates for Congress and other offices we find that often the only candidates worse than the incumbents are the people running against them.

Still, we can hope that this time around will be different. That more smart and well-informed candidates will challenge incumbents in the Bay Area as was the case last year when Eric Swalwell challenged and defeated entrenched incumbent Pete Stark.

Our dream is that this upcoming political season will offer us a wealth of challengers who are smart, articulate, well-informed and have the ability to work collaboratively. OK, so maybe it is a dream, but the time is right for such people.