In Washington D.C., it is well understood that the game of politics is all about the money. If I win my election, and online polling suggests that there is a ton of enthusiasm for my campaign, I will be expected to spend most of my time on the phone raising money. As a freshman member of Congress, at orientation it will be explained to me that I am supposed to spend approximately four hours a day doing fundraising, and that is why the House and Senate floors are so empty most of the time.
Of course most members of Congress have learned how to play the game, and this is why it is nearly impossible to defeat incumbents. Over the past six decades, the re-election rate for members of the House of Representatives has consistently been well over 80 percent, and according to the UVA Center for Politics incumbents actually did far better than that in 2016
Since World War II, the overall success rate for Senate incumbents has been 84 percent, and the overall success rate for House incumbents has been 94 percent.
Incumbents are almost always armed with huge war chests and most of them have tremendous name recognition, and so toppling them is not easy.