Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 9, 2009

LIMITED EFFECTS.... The bad news is, throughout the debate over an economic stimulus plan, Republican voices have been the most prominent. The good news is, the GOP's talking points have been widely heard, but apparently haven't been persuasive.

A new Gallup poll asked respondents about the government's efforts to pass a stimulus package. President Obama enjoys strong support; a plurality approve of congressional Democrats, while 58% disapprove of the way in which congressional Republicans have handled the issue.

gallup.gif

The same poll found that they have more confidence now in the Obama administration's ability to improve the economy than before the president took office, while a majority of poll respondents (including a majority of independents) believe it is "critically important" that policymakers pass a stimulus package. Gallup's analysis of the results added, "President Obama would appear to have the upper hand in the current focus on Congress' efforts to pass a major economic stimulus bill."

Two quick thoughts on this. First, I'm a little surprised by these results. Not only have conservative Republicans been dominating the discourse, but the critics' talking points have been largely internalized by journalists covering the debate. There's at least some data suggesting Americans actually want less stimulus in the stimulus bill. It's at least possible, then, that the Gallup results are an outlier. (It's also possible that the numbers are connected to Obama's personal popularity -- Rasmussen doesn't include the president's name in its stimulus polling, while Gallup did.)

Second, Gallup noted "the degree to which Obama appears to be maintaining the upper hand over his opponents." If only that were true. Given what we've seen of late, there's no reason to believe Republicans' conduct is in any way connected to the demands of voters. The president would have the upper hand if the minority party were swayed by public opinion, but at least for now, the GOP is more interested in standing on the party's "core principles" than anything else.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

"President Obama would appear to have the upper hand in the current focus on Congress' efforts to pass a major economic stimulus bill." - Gallup Organization

So naturally, Harry Reid's first instinct will be to offer even more concessions to the Republicans in the hope that they won't call him nasty names.

Posted by: SteveT on February 9, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

The general public is uninformed. Read Krugman today.

Posted by: impartial on February 9, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aGq2B3XeGKok&refer=home

"The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages."

"Only the stimulus package to be approved this week, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed four months ago and $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates approved in 2008 have been voted on by lawmakers. The remaining $8 trillion in commitments are lending programs and guarantees, almost all under the authority of the Fed and the FDIC. The recipients’ names have not been disclosed."

Posted by: Doomer on February 9, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, at what point do Dems stop negotiating, take back concessions, and play only to the two R's they need to poach in the Senate? Isn't this poll the green light for that approach?
Honestly, is that too much to ask?

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on February 9, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yah, it's great that the public sees the need for stimulus and supports it; it sucks that the longer the debate drags on, the stimulus the public will get.

Thanks mostly to the Democratic dogs who reflexively capitulate to every GOP temper tantrum. The centrist compromise is without a doubt the most disappointing thing that's happened in Obama's young administration. Let's hope Obama and/or the public can find some way to straighten these losers out.

Posted by: David Bailey on February 9, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I used to think, even if the media is corrupted by their top crust ownership and access connections, at least they'd notice if the public didn't like their slant or who they always talked to the most. Now, I wonder if even that is enough corrective pressure on them ...

Posted by: Neil B. on February 9, 2009 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

But Mike Pence said the tide of public opinion was turning against the Obama Stimulus bill. Guess not!

It's curious that the daily Gallup tracking poll has shown through all this winger teevee Blabbathon slamming the plan, a locked in approval of Obama at circa 65%. Locked in the same way of circa 30% disapproval the last three years of Bush. Could it be a sign that people are tuned into the debate and are immune some from the right wing noise machine?

Posted by: Stuck on February 9, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

echoing SteveT, Harry Reid will fold in half at even the slightest hint of a filibuster. He is weak and unprincipled. Make them ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER! The public is behind the Dems, history is behind the Dems, the economists are behind the Dems. Force the clowns to stand up there for weeks and explain to the world why, yet again, they're against progress. Put their bullsh*t on the public stage. Damnit, Reid! You fool!

Posted by: Badass4Peace on February 9, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Really not that surprising. Remember that Clinton's approval went up to 70% as the DC hounds swarmed over impeachment trivialities, and that Bush's approval ratings sank even as the DC press corps groveled at his feet. The American people may not be perfect, but they're a lot smarter than the Beltway pundits, and they have been for a long time. B/c we who observe politics closely watch that media so much, we always overstate their influence.

Posted by: RMcD on February 9, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

The media message is not just about the Congressional debate over the stimulus package. Right next to the story about Republicans blasting the plan are articles about the street resurfacing and school building rehab and restoring the state services that have just been cut and rehiring the municipal employees and going back to regular trash collection schedule. The Republican message is being drowned by real life outside D.C. The Republicans better hope most people never see the clip of Sen. Kyl saying states and local governments are not laying off people.

Posted by: Th on February 9, 2009 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

The republicans won't be swayed because they haven't felt any pain yet.

Once the public (especially those in republican districts) start feeing some pain and looking for relief, we can start pointing at them as the main obstacle. They need to have people getting up in their grill and giving them some heat up close and personal.

Posted by: bdop4 on February 9, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

No outlier. Outliers typically come from f'ing up likely voter turnout models. This is all adults generally, so that's not a factor. Controlling for phrasing of questions (Gallup's was much more neutral) these numbers are well in line with previous polls (including, when you look under the hood, Rasmussen's).

Posted by: slaney black on February 9, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

It's at least possible, then, that the Gallup results are an outlier.

Or perhaps Rasmussen is the outlier (from Steve M's blog).

Posted by: Danp on February 9, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe when it comes to feeling the pain of a drastic economic downturn the american people start paying closer attention to what's actually going on. As the economic situation gets worse and worse the people that were blissfully ignorant of politics are suddenly paying closer attention. And hopefully aren't buying in to the never ending republican bull shit about tax cuts being the answer to all problems.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 9, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

People have figured out this situation. Our political structure more or less guarantees that the GOP will have a faction among the governmental elite. Mainstream journalists will pay attention to them, if the GOP faction is aggressive and has a definite point of view. The problem is becoming that the left blogosphere ends up mirroring the concerns of the mainstream media. Turn around and face the other direction and you see that people have figured this situation out. They know what the GOP is up to.

Posted by: Tom in Ma on February 9, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

The approval rating for Democrats in Congress is somewhat problematic. Some diapproval may be from the fact that they are not aggressive enough in pushing the stimulus.

Posted by: qwerty on February 9, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The gop has made the fatal mistake of believing that they represent what the public at large thinks. Perhaps they should spend less time inside the beltway and more time talking to people who have lost their jobs, are in danger of losing their homes- in danger of losing everything. The more they talk the clearer it is that they just don't get it- AT ALL.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on February 9, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

(It's also possible that the numbers are connected to Obama's personal popularity -- Rasmussen doesn't include the president's name in its stimulus polling, while Gallup did.)

I've been folowing Rasmussen for a number of years, and in my opinion, his polling is excellent in run ups to elections. Not so much at other times though. In 2005, when Bush's numbers started to go south, at a point during the approval decline, Rasmussen decided to change his weighting that gave numbers consistently higher that any other poll. He's a good pollster, but also a loyal republican. And I think Obama's high and consistent numbers involve not only a personal liking but also trusting him to do the right thing in improving the economy. And they are smart enough to know that no human has a perfect handle on what might work, or not.

Posted by: Stuck on February 9, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I love the take Fox news has on David Axelrod bringing up the poll:

"That Obama aides so quickly seized upon the Gallup numbers indicates a degree of insecurity that belies Axelrod's confidence. Still, it does appear Obama has in the public mind fared better than the current inside-the-Beltway perceptions suggest."

Posted by: DR on February 9, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

The gop's 31% approval rating shows that Bush's base are the only people still in their corner. Heh. By dominating the discussion with all of their bs is resulting in more self-inflicted wounds.

Keep it up, gop. Keep proving to everyone that you haven't learned a thing since November.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on February 9, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see how the level of public approval of the media's handling of this issue and whether it correlates with approval levels of Republicans.

Posted by: something missing on February 9, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

i think the regular folks who oppose the stimulus bill are suffering from two problems: (1) misleading information from the media and (2) conflation of the stimulus bill with the blank-check bank bailout.

Posted by: karen marie on February 9, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Not only have conservative Republicans been dominating the discourse, but the critics' talking points have been largely internalized by journalists covering the debate."

More "sensible liberal" delusions about the media.

It is a lot simpler than that.

The so-called "conservatives" of the corporate-owned Republican Party and the so-called "journalists" of the corporate-owned mass media are regurgitating the same scripted talking points from the same script. They are all shills for their owners, America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc., saying what they are told -- and paid -- to say.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 9, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Not only have conservative Republicans been dominating the discourse, but the critics' talking points have been largely internalized by journalists covering the debate.

Republican talking points internalized by the so-called "liberal (Matt Drudge Rules Our World) media"? You don't say...

Posted by: Gregory on February 9, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

This is one of the many reasons I've been saying that Republicans were making a huge mistake by opposing the stimulus. Because this was entirely predictable. There's just no other way of cutting this situation than to realize that Obama is trying to get us a common sense plan for pumping the economy back up. And for Republicans to flat-out reject it makes them look partisan and obstructionist. Only the dopes in the media could think otherwise.

This is one of the big mistakes Republicans always make: They only listen to their base and the media. And so they assume if their base and the media is in agreement with them, that they're winning. But as RMcD points out above, the general public is often in disagreement with the media; as we saw throughout the Clinton days. The trick for Obama is to take advantage of that, which Clinton rarely did. It appears so far Obama is doing that.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on February 9, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly