Why do voters reelect members of an unpopular Congress? This question remains one of the most problematic in the study of political and policy processes. Dye writes that Congress members are reelected in the majority of instances, and a whole range of factors aid them in their striving to make a good Congress-based career. Statistically, 90 percent of House and 80 percent of Senate incumbents win Congressional elections (Dye). This is mainly because Congressional elections do not arouse much interest in voters (Dye). Consequently, once elected, members of an unpopular Congress can be reelected automatically, simply because voters are not interested in and do not try to change the political situation in Congress. On the other hand, party identification remains one of the crucial points in congressional voting (Dye). Three out of the four voters participating in congressional elections vote for preferred parties and not for particular candidates (Dye). Added to these are the privileges offered by congressional membership and action, which also increase the chances that a member of an unpopular Congress will be reelected. For instance, free mailings and informational brochures are distributed among voters, to inform them about the services and benefits provided by Congressmen in their districts (Dye). Although each member of Congress is responsible for his/her reelection, they can also obtain relevant support from the congressional organization, even through funding (Dye).
Apparently, being in Congress is a lifetime endeavor. Once elected, members of even the most unpopular Congress can become Congressmen for life. Privileges provided by membership in Congress, voters’ overall indifference to Congressional elections, coupled with increased media attention and assignment to one or more committees, increase the probability of repeated reelections (Dye). Supported by the power of their political party, members of an unpopular Congress face few chances to fail their election campaign. As a result, through years, Congressional elections have become something more of a ritual rather than actual political competition – a process that bears little influence on voters but has far-reaching impacts on the quality and consistency of future political decisions made by Congress.