Poll: Three-quarters of Americans support House, Senate term limits

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jan 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-18 11:33:30-05

By Ashley Killough, CNN

(CNN) — While voters re-elected most of the incumbent members of the U.S House and Senate –there are 94 freshmen in the 113th Congress– three-quarters of Americans say they support term limits for elected officials in both chambers.

If given the opportunity, 75% would vote for term limits, while 21% would vote against the idea and 5% say they have no opinion, according to the Gallup survey released Friday.

Such a proposal has been backed by elected officials before, especially on the campaign trail.

In 2009, a small group of Republican senators proposed a constitutional amendment to limit how long a person may serve in office. Led by then-Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina (he resigned from his seat at the beginning of this year), the group called for a cap of 12 years for senators and six years for members of the House. The measure did not get the required two-thirds approval from the House and Senate to pass and be sent on to the states to begin the ratification process.

A similar measure –the Citizen Legislature Act– was put forward as part of the original Contract with America proposed by Republicans before they won control of Congress in 1994. It also failed to get the needed support.

According to the Gallup poll, a strong majority in both parties support term limits, though Republicans are more inclined to back the idea. Eighty-two percent of those in the GOP are in favor of term limits, while 65% of Democrats feel the same way. The notion also has strong support–at least 73%–across all age groups.

The survey also shows that more than six in 10 Americans would get rid of the Electoral College, the constitutional structure in place for electing presidents. While tweaks have been made to the rules over the years, repeated attempts to abolish the Electoral College have failed.

Gallup interviewed 1,013 adults by telephone from January 8 through January 9. The sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN Political Director Mark Preston contributed to this report.