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

March 4, 2009

A STRONG PUBLIC-OPINION ADVANTAGE.... Congressional Republicans are apparently under the impression that they're doing everything right. They're sticking to their far-right principles, refusing to cooperate with President Obama, embracing message discipline, and taking orders from right-wing radio hosts. They are, as Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) recently put it, "Back in the saddle."

As it turns out, they've impressed themselves far more than they've impressed the country.

After Barack Obama's first six weeks as president, the American public's attitudes about the two political parties couldn't be more different, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.

Despite the country's struggling economy and vocal opposition to some of his policies, President Obama's favorability rating is at an all-time high.... By comparison, the Republican Party -- which resisted Obama's recently passed stimulus plan and has criticized the spending in his budget -- finds its favorability at an all-time low.

The news wasn't all good for Democrats. The poll shows that the president's popularity is stronger than the support for his individual policies. For that matter, some GOP talking points, no matter how wrong, are beginning to resonate -- Americans are reportedly concerned about wasteful spending in the stimulus and increasing the deficit too much.

But those reservations notwithstanding, the NBC/WSJ poll is bound to bring a smile to the faces of White House staffers. Obama enjoys a 68% favorable rating and a 60% approval rating, while 67% feel more hopeful about his leadership. In one of the more interesting surprises, the number of Americans who believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction has jumped from 26% to 41%, despite the severe economic conditions.

And perhaps most importantly, the overwhelming majority of the public doesn't blame Obama for the state of the economy (sorry, Wall Street Journal editorial page), and two-thirds of the public believe the president has at least a year before he's responsible for it.

As for the minority party:

Just 26 percent view the Republican Party positively, which is an all-time low for the party. That's compared with 49 percent who have a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

In addition, a combined 56 percent say the previous Bush administration deserved "almost all" of the blame or a "major part" of the blame for the partisanship in Washington, and a combined 41 percent say the same of congressional Republicans. [...]

Also, the public overwhelmingly believes the GOP's opposition to Obama's policies and programs is based on politics: 56 percent say they're trying to gain political advantage, versus 30 percent who say they're standing up for their principles.

Finally, Americans don't seem to have confidence in the Republican Party when it comes to the economy. By a 48-20 percent margin, they think the Democratic Party would do a better job of getting the country out of the recession.

Republicans, Hart argues, "have been tone deaf to the results of the 2008 election... They never heard the message. They continue to preach the old-time religion."


Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

some GOP talking points, no matter how wrong, are beginning to resonate -- Americans are reportedly concerned about wasteful spending in the stimulus and increasing the deficit too much.

Only a fool wouldn't have at least some concern about the size of the deficit, which isn't to say I don't fully support the stimulus package. And although the GOP talking points pushed nonsense like the marsh mouse and the $200M for condoms, a certain amount of cynicism toward wasteful spending from a committee of 535 is always warranted. In this sense I would read nothing into the numbers for these two questions.

Posted by: Danp on March 4, 2009 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

That Wall Street Journal op-ed is just a disingenuous piece of crap.

Posted by: KJ on March 4, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

This poll genuinely reflects what I have been hearing from friends and family. The Republicans are way off the track and don't even know it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 4, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I am with Danp, only a fool wouldn't be concerned about wasteful spending and increasing the deficit too much. The trick is knowing how much is too much and what is wasteful in this economic environment.

There is a growing belief that the guy Obama installed at treasury is part of the problem. He should be taking over the zombie banks instead of rewarding their failed executives with ever more money.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 4, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Just 26 percent view the Republican Party positively, which is an all-time low for the party.

So despite their efforts to pretend Bush wasn't a Republican and a conservative, the GOP is now as unpopular as he was. I love it!

some GOP talking points, no matter how wrong, are beginning to resonate

Of course they are! As you pointed out, the GOP is good at message discipline, and if they repeat the same talking points often enough to the pack of stenographers that masquerades as the news media, the message will get thru.

Americans are reportedly concerned about wasteful spending in the stimulus and increasing the deficit too much.

I'll point out that neither of those are bad things. But, as usual, the Democrats' message has to be complex to counter the Republicans' lies. They need to point out that the wasteful spending the GOP likes to complain about, by and large, doesn't exist. (And I, for one, would like to see the counter that if you want to look at cutting wasteful spending, look no firther than the Defense Department -- it's the same tactic the GOP uses, reversed on them. You can't be seen as opposing the spending in general, but rather hawkish on waste.)

They also need to point out that the GOP didn't care about deficits when they were exploding under Bush, even as he was using accounting tricks to hide how bad it was. Obama's being honest, by contrast, in ending those tricks, and a strong Democratic-led economy can reduce the deficit as it did under Clinton. (Don't give me the bull of crediting the Republican Congress -- we saw their concern for deficits when Bush was in the White House.)

Posted by: Gregory on March 4, 2009 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

The thing about Limbaugh's GOP is that the echo chamber is no longer helping them get their message out-- it's hurting them. They are all now stuck INSIDE their echo chamber and don't seem to realize it. They've built themselves such a strong propaganda machine-- Fox, Rush, Hannity, Beck, rightwing think tanks, rightwing internet forums-- that it may lead to their undoing. Not to mention that it's completely reinforced by their total distrust of everything that comes from the MSM or non-rightwing sources.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on March 4, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Cantor and his fellow foot soldiers for Limbaugh are confident because they know what their strength is: message discipline. They have found their footing and they believe their game plan will be effective. The American public is being bombarded with the same talking points and they will come to accept them as factual. Democratic talking points need to be deployed now, with the same consistency and simplicity, because it is much easier to prevent Republican lies from finding a foothold that it is to dislodge them when they are accepted.

Posted by: Eric on March 4, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Deficits don't matter... DICK Cheney.
(Of course if the democrats create them, then yes they do).

I have to echo the sentiment Zoe Kentucky (shout out to a fellow Kentuckian as well)has put forth, that they for so long have been spewing their nonsense, they have come to believe their own lies, much like a snake handling bible thumper believes without a doubt in his own convictions. They are inside an echo chamber of their own making, and what I think (HOPE!) we are witnessing is self cannibalizing; so far gone are they in their hysterical opposition to anything democrat or Obama, they will reduce themselves to a little green globule of ineffectual and irrelevant mass before they realize what has happened.

Posted by: citizen_pain on March 4, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Obstruct, but give us the money - A red 'burb of very Blue Portland, OR has asked for $2.5 mill to "quiet the city" - Recently, a light rail system was placed into operation over an existing freight line - The tracks run through Tualatin, a red city. The locals were not amused when the WES commuter trains were required by federal law to blow signals for the several street crossings through the city. So, they are now, hat in hand, asking the Feds for money to create barriers. Perhaps, the RepuGs have not considered going to the store and purchasing "Two longs, one short and a long" ear plugs. But, keep Big Guvment off their backs.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 4, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

and two-thirds of the public believe the president has at least a year before he's responsible for it.

and this to me is a critical point dems need to highlight because i'm seeing alot of cable hysteria about how long the public will support his policies... 'obama's been in office for over a month! dammit! why hasn't the economy improved!'...

Posted by: linda on March 4, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Just 26 percent view the Republican Party positively... 30 percent [] say they're standing up for their principles.

26, 28, 30.... Spooky how that same narrow range comes up again and again.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 4, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers - With due respect, I wonder if you would be so quick to advocate a particular solution if you fully appreciated the scope of the problem and the ripple effect it would have on a host of other financial institutions both in this Country and globally.(See e.g., Thomas Friedman - today's column) It is not as simple as creating bad banks, or buying toxic assets, or nationalizing banks, or rewarding shareholders (the price of the stock should be enough to punish anyone who owns a share of Citi.) These things are all completely interwined and if anyone knew how to fix it, Paulson would have done it last fall. My guess is that while the government is the last man standing, the problem is simply too big for government to fix. Thus we are left with triage on a cadaver. The enormity of the problem really should humble all of us about rushing to suggest solutions without the necessary information, or suggesting bad faith on the part of those charged with fixing this mess. I am sure you are smart guy, but unless you are one of the lucky ones getting daily Treasury briefings, we just don't have enough information to make informed judgments about what Treasure should do or not do. I am not saying you shouldn't have an opinion,but we need to understand that there are opinions and then there are opinions.

Posted by: Scott F. on March 4, 2009 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

It is worth pointing out that the republicans in congress actually won their election in the fall, so maybe they think they are on to something.

But don't expect republicans to change their tune. The most compelling evidence is how they vote after they have lost an election, the final few months in office. If there was ever a time to get religion and realize your ideas didn't match up with your district, that would be the time to switch gears.

I haven't seen any evidence of it. Bush had to steel money from TARP to keep the auto industry alive.

Posted by: tomj on March 4, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Major bailouts of foreign Banks and Countries in the offing,will greatly depress values of American Dollar on all Foreign Markets. Coming soon to a tax Plan near you.

Posted by: rom on March 4, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

That's not a saddle, Eric. It's called a sheep fold.

Posted by: digitusmedius on March 4, 2009 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Gotta wonder what the motives are behind the WSJ polling whether Americans blame President Obama for the state of the economy. Sometimes I wonder if the Mighty Whurlitzer understands, even a little bit, how the economy ended up in this big ol' mess.

Posted by: bcinaz on March 4, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats' undeniable public opinion coup was brilliantly and expertly executed by the party. The sheer volume of positive response to the new administration is proof positive that the methodologies used to obtain that response were carried out perfectly.

This is a tried and true model, last used with such stunning efficiency, by Joseph Goebbels of the National Socialist Party in 1933. Reap what you sew fools.

Posted by: Oskar Schindler on March 4, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but the GOP *is* sticking to its principles by obstructing Obama + the Democrats; they don't have any other principles by this point.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 4, 2009 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who plans his moves expecting public opinion to remain constant is a fool.

If public opinion never changed, we'd all still have pet rocks.

Posted by: Dave H on March 4, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

That's ok, Republicans, you can always pay Rasmussen to make another skewed little poll to make y'all feel real good about yourselves. Now stand aside and let the grown-ups work.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on March 4, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Gregory on March 4, 2009 at 8:37 AM:

"Of course they are! As you pointed out, the GOP is good at message discipline, and if they repeat the same talking points often enough to the pack of stenographers that masquerades as the news media, the message will get thru."

That is just TOO rich! Read the comments here...seems that is something Democrats do! Same ole talking points...like "8 years of failed policies"...really? How so? The war...pardon, the illegal war?!? Why were Democrats supporting it then? Why were Democrats telling us that there were WMD in Iraq? Tell you what, go back and read about the last 8 years (and not just at one of your 'favorite' sites)...read the Senate papers...READ IT FROM THE SOURCE! The media has been doing it's best to destroy the Republican party for the last 6 years. They could not stand the fact that President Bush handled an horrific thing that happened to this nation and he was being supported by Democrats as well as Republicans...so they did what they could to demonize him. Go to the Senate papers and read...don't let the media tell you what happened...look for yourselves. Perhaps when you're done there you can look into what really happened to our economy...it wasn't just Republicans. Question everything...you'll be richer for it.

Posted by: Really, Really on March 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

You Dems just don't get it. The problem is that Obama's war on Capitalism is only going to make the country worse off and is the wrong thing to do to improve our economy. In two years, the GOP who opposed this mess will look like the Dems who opposed the Iraq war. Republicans are very comfortable in opposing the stupidity that is Obama's spending plans because there is hard evidence that such a plan has NEVER worked. There really isn't a downside.

Posted by: Father of 4 on March 4, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"...there's hard evidence that such a plan has NEVER(sic) worked." Father of 4 @ 3:26 PM.
Sources? Just one, pretty please? Because there's also "hard evidence" that any male who parrots the latest Republican/Faux News misinformation is probably suffering from something that only ME* drugs can alleviate.
(You know, that guy in the TV ads with the moronically smiling wife and the envious male friends)

Posted by: Doug on March 4, 2009 at 7:55 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