Approval of the Congress is up roughly 3.8 points from where it was a year ago and disapproval is down 0.6 points.

Approve Disapprove
Real Clear Pol. 12/19/22 27.6% 62.4%
Real Clear Pol. 11/23/22 23.8% 62.8%
Real Clear Pol. 10/13/22 25.3% 65.8%
Real Clear Pol. 8/30/22 20.6% 67.4%
Real Clear Pol. 8/2/22 19.6% 71.0%
Real Clear Pol. 6/15/22 21.2% 69.0%
Real Clear Pol. 5/17/22 22.4% 68.0%
Real Clear Pol. 4/16/22 22.2% 67.5%
Real Clear Pol. 3/15/22 21.8% 67.8%
Real Clear Pol. 2/18/22 20.8% 68.3%
Real Clear Pol. 1/17/22 22.4% 66.4%
Real Clear Pol. 12/21/21 23.0% 65.8%
Real Clear Pol. 11/30/21 22.2% 68.6%

The Religious Composition of the 118th U.S. Congress

Religion Number in Congress % of Congress % of U.S. adults
Protestant 303 56.70% 40%
Catholic 148 27.7 21
Mormon 9 1.7 2
Orthodox Christian 8 1.5 1
Messianic Jewish 1 0 .2 <1
Jewish 33 6.2 2
Buddhist 2 0 .4 1
Muslim 3 0.6 1
Hindu 2 0.4 1
Unitarian Universal 3 0.6 <1
Humanist 1 0.2 <1
Unaffiliated 1 0.02 29
Don’t Know / Refused 20 3.7 4

[PEW 1/3/23]

The House of Representatives

Of the more than 120 times since 1789 that the U.S. House has elected a new speaker, there have been only 14 instances in which the process required multiple ballots, according to the Congressional Research Service. Following this Congress’ selection process there will have been 15 instances in which the process required multiple ballots. [NYT 12/31/22 and 1/3/23]

It took two months and 133 ballots for the House to elect its speaker in 1856. There were 237 seats in the House in that year.

The last time the House needed more than one ballot to confirm a speaker was 1923. [Axios 1/3/23]

On the 15th ballot, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (age 57) was elected Speaker. He was first elected to the House in 2006.

To secure the gavel, McCarthy had to chip away at opposition from a bloc of hardline conservatives in what turned out to be the longest contest in 164 years. To win over critics, McCarthy and his allies made a series of concessions to conservatives.

The struggle that McCarthy faced may serve as a preview of the kind of challenges he will face in trying to unite his members in the future.

The following are a selection of the numerous concessions and promises McCarthy and his supporters made in trying to help him win this election.

(There are reports that there is an additional list of concessions and promises that have not been made public and that won’t be made public any time soon. Time will tell.)

  • Any member can call for a motion to vacate the Speakers’ chair. This would make it easier to trigger a no confidence vote in the speaker. (It still requires a vote.)
  • Efforts to raise the debt limit must be paired with spending cuts.
  • The 12 appropriations bills must move individually instead of as part of an “omnibus” bill that rolls everything into one bill.
  • Members must be given at least 72 hours to review bills before they come to the floor.
  • The final election vote required 6 members to answer “present” when they were asked who they would vote for as speaker. This allowed McCarthy to be elected with less than 218 votes.

[WW – In short, to secure his election as Speaker, McCarthy gave away just about everything he could possibly give.]

[WW – C-Span cameras on the floor provided an intimate picture of the goings on.]

Washington Watch uses the report by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report for its report on elections in the U.S. House of Representatives.
(One seat is open)

  • Republicans – 221
  • Democrats – 213

Amid this week’s chaos, an occasional TV soundbite has been that House Republicans might not even have won their razor-thin majority without a boost from redistricting. After all, our pre-election estimate was a GOP gain of up to three seats from new maps alone. Instead, 2022’s results show redistricting didn’t hurt — and even may have even helped — Democrats, another reason Kevin McCarthy has had such difficulty reaching 218 votes.

In December, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejia wrote an excellent piece hypothesizing how the House outcome might have been different had redistricting not occurred, concluding that the decennial process likely didn’t cost Democrats the House.

“Our analysis, using an approach similar to the Cook PVI, arrives at a similar conclusion: Republicans wouldn’t have won the House without gerrymanders in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. But overall, Democrats fared slightly better than they would have under old maps thanks to their own gerrymanders in Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon and a temporary court-drawn map in North Carolina.

“Whereas Republicans focused on locking in as many safe GOP seats as possible (some of which have produced McCarthy detractors), Democrats embarked on a riskier strategy of drawing as many Democratic-leaning seats as possible — and it paid off. Democrats won 24 of the 25 seats they set out to draw for themselves in Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon — including five seats by less than five points.”

The Senate

  • Republicans – 49
  • Democrats – 48
  • Independents – 3

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is the 22nd sitting senator since 1890 to switch parties. Her decision does not have an immediate impact on Democrat’s control of the Senate. The Senator has not said whether she will run for re-election in 2024. [Inside Elections 12/16/22]

Sinema has also engaged in something else, previously unknown in U.S. Senate circles. She appears to be selling her used clothing and other personal items. Included are a $215 cycling ensemble, a $25 trucker hat, a $150 stainless steel watch, a $150 fitness tracker ring, an $80 cycling jersey and a $500 bicycle travel case. The total list appears to be endless. [Slate 12/15/22]

The U.S. Senate has four caucuses.

The Republican caucus has 49 members.

The regular Democratic caucus has 48 members.

The independent Democrats caucus has 2 members – Sanders and King

The garage sale caucus has 1 member – Sinema

The question of the day is whether the garage sale caucus member will take items that other Senators want to sell and what will be her commission on anything that is sold.

Having served for 16 years as the Senate GOP leaders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now the longest serving Senate leader ever.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), having served in the Senate since 2000, has announced she will not stand for re-election in 2024.

The 2024 Senate Election

Democrats Republicans Independent
Seats not up in 2024 28 39 0
Seats up in 2024 20 10 3
Baldwin Barrasso King
Brown Blackburn Sanders
Cantwell Braun Sinema
Cardin Cramer
Carper Cruz
Casey Fischer
Feinstein Hawley
Gillibrand Romney
Heinrich Scott
Hirono Wicker