Mid-terms are fast approaching and are often the subject of some scrutiny. It is not uncommon for the mid-terms in a President’s 6th year in office to be viewed as a referendum on his success and can lead to him becoming a ‘lame duck’ president. This is not always the case (see President Bill Clinton) but nonetheless, the statistical analysis always begins in earnest.

Equally, it is a common view that while Americans love their own Congressman, they dislike Congress as a body. This is borne out by the statistics in the attached article which shows Congress’ approval ratings at an ‘historic midterm low’ with only 16% of Americans approving of the job Congress is doing.

This is very useful for questions on the balance of power between the President and Congress. Traditionally, the thing that can stop a President being ‘imperial’ (Schlesinger) is his own approval ratings. While Obama’s are the lowest of his presidency (mid-40’s), Congress is worse. This means they are unlikely, as it stands, to be able to utilise the President’s low approval ratings to their own ends.

In almost every case, the answer to a balance of power between President and Congress question is ‘it depends’, usually on approval. This article therefore make for great evidence for that.