Ron, I would like to say here, in my opinion, that the prime reason that politicians stay in office is not due to people consciously deciding to re-elect them. It's due to that darned
~~Pull Here for ALL your votes to go to this party~~~
The simple fact is most people NEVER split their party ticket. They don't investigate alternatives, they don't look for anything that contradicts their pre-conceived notions. For every 1 or 2 'educated voters' who DO check things out, there are at least 10-15 voters who cancel their vote out. People vote also based upon that psychological phenom called 'name recognition.' When faced with two choices, people vote the name they recognize / remember, and not necessarily the person best suited for the job. They recognize the incumbent's name, but may not know the challenger's name, especially in state's elections. Click....the vote is then cast for 'who they know.' They smile, think they've done the right thing, and blithely walk out of the booth.
How do I know this? In 1998, the last year the Census had a mid-term election, the incumbents were re-elected at a startling 97%!!!!! Over the last twenty years (1978-1998), the figure is 94.6% on average.
People vote like sheep, unfortunately, with total allegiance to a party, with little regard to the politician's performance. Our forefathers knew this, and this is one of the main reasons they didn't trust the populace to elect our President through the generation election. Electoral votes do. The people's vote, in this United States democracy, does not matter in the Presidential election...not in the slightest. It does, however matter quite a bit in all the other elections.
Demoracy, for all its good points, has its inherent flaws. I would like to tell this anecdote of voting in the last state election. I went into the voting booth, completely armed with a long sheet of candidates, both parties, that i intended to vote for. The groans behind me reminded me that people knew I'd be in there for a time. In the meantime, 10 or so people went into the booth next to me. They obviously banged their party level and left quickly. I actually heard someone behind me, behind the curtain tell me to 'hurry up' and whispered 'what is taking that guy so long? Geezus!' Voting is NOT fast food! It requires thought, or should anyways.