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

September 16, 2010

AN AMBIGUOUS LANDSCAPE.... You don't need a meteorologist to know which way the winds are blowing -- frustrated voters are in a sour mood and the Democratic majority is poised to feel the brunt of the public's anxieties and frustrations.

But the closer one looks at the data, the more ambiguous the political landscape appears.

Republicans are heading into the general election phase of the midterm campaign backed by two powerful currents: the highest proportion of voters in two decades say it is time for their own member of Congress to be replaced, and Americans are expressing widespread dissatisfaction with President Obama's leadership.

But the latest New York Times/CBS News poll also finds that while voters rate the performance of Democrats negatively, they view Republicans as even worse, providing a potential opening for Democrats to make a last-ditch case for keeping their hold on power.

Right off the bat, Republicans may be inclined to feel encouragement from the results. President Obama's approval rating has edged lower; the public doesn't like health care reform or the Recovery Act; and among likely voters, the GOP is ahead on the generic ballot. That's not a bad position for the minority party to be in less than seven weeks before the midterms.

But go ahead and dig through the data. You'll notice that it's apparent Republicans aren't exactly popular right now.

* Asked for their opinion on the way congressional Democrats have done their jobs, 30% of respondents approved. Asked the same about congressional Republicans, only 20% approved.

* Generally speaking, 45% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, the highest score in a year. For the GOP, 34% have a favorable opinion. At this point in 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress, the party's favorable rating was 52%.

* 39% of Americans believe President Obama has a clear plan for solving the nation's problems. 18% say the same about congressional Republicans.

* Which party has better ideas for solving the nation's problems? 40% say Democrats, 33% say Republicans.

* Who's doing more to improve the economy? 48% say President Obama, 28% say Republicans.

* Which party is more likely to create new jobs? 44% say Democrats, 38% say Republicans.

* Which party will do more to help the middle class? 55% say Democrats, 33% say Republicans.

* Who's to blame for the economic mess? 37% say the Bush administration, 11% say Congress, 5% say the Obama administration.

Even on health care, 40% support repeal. But when the poll tells respondents that repeal would go back to allowing insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions, support for repeal drops to 19% -- suggesting the repeal push would fail miserably if Americans were told of the consequences.

I realize Republicans already assume they're taking at least one chamber of Congress, and the odds of them doing so are pretty good. It's possible, if not likely, that voters will find the GOP's message, agenda, and tactics to be completely wrong, and then elect them anyway.

But reading a poll like this, it's hard not to think Dems still have a chance.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

True, reading the poll might lead one to think the Dems have a chance. But then you actually look at them and see what a cowardly, craven, contemptible bunch they are. If the Dems could present a clear, positive message and then act on it (and then go out and sell it), yes they'd have a chance. Instead, they run and hide at the slightest sign of trouble, convinced that if they not stand out everything will be ok. No Steve, they're doomed.

Posted by: NHCt on September 16, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, with unemployment near 10%, the anti-incumbent feeling is the overriding emotion. And most incumbents are Democrats.

No matter that the public favors Democratic Party ideals, the Democrats have been largely ineffective at implementing the policies the public favors.

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on September 16, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't matter. Too many of the swing voters belong to the 'kick the dog' school. They have no idea what needs to be done to make things better. When things are bad, they punish those currently in office or 'kick the dog'.

Obama and the Dems were stupid to not do more to create jobs. Swing voters = pocketbook voters.

Posted by: bakho on September 16, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

"the public doesn't like health care reform or the Recovery Act"

I wonder what the percentage is who SAY this, because they have been TOLD this endlessly by the MSM, the GOP, Rush.

Neither program has been fully implemented, and I doubt they have had any measurable impact on "the public".

Posted by: DAY on September 16, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

What NHCt said.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 16, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

In the end, it's Obama's responsibility to lead, to get people excited, to articulate and then to hammer home day in and day out a "clear positive message" (I quote NHCt from above). He was able to do something of this as a candidate, but he's lost his vocal chords or some other essential body part in the meantime.

Posted by: sjw on September 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

""the public doesn't like health care reform or the Recovery Act""

In 2012 I really, really, really don't want to see healthcare top the list of people's concerns as it did in 2008.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 16, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with most of the polls I've seen is that the questions are sort of thumbs up/thumbs down, and they don't ask people why they approve or disapprove. So, when you write something like: Asked for their opinion on the way congressional Democrats have done their jobs, 30% of respondents approved. Asked the same about congressional Republicans, only 20% approved... it really doesn't tell us how many 70% who disapprove of the Democrats disapprove because they are a bunch of wimps and how many disapprove becuase of policy. Same goes for the Republicans where I am sure, given Tea Party successes in the primaries, that a fair number of the 80% who disapprove, disapprove because they don't think the current Republicans are right wing enough. In this hyper-partisan atmosphere some portion of each party's disapproval rate is set by those who don't feel that their party is sufficiently partisan. On the right side they have all but driven the party off the scale, while the Democrats are, arguably, still well within the mainstream.

Now that Obama is talking tough, if he and the Dems start acting tough, I expect that their approval ratings will go up, rather than down. If they can just find a way to GOTV, they could actually turn this election cycle into another "Dewey defeats Truman" shocker.

Posted by: majun on September 16, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

The only part of health care that needs to be repealed is the individual mandate. And that part will, of course, need to be repealed because it's anti-American to the core. Democratic losses this year may reasonably be chalked up to this single screw-up on the part of Obama.

Posted by: NealB on September 16, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"No matter that the public favors Democratic Party ideals, the Democrats have been largely ineffective at implementing the policies the public favors."

Cheers to Ralph Kramden for that one. That sums it up all in one sentence. Thank you.

Posted by: whichwitch on September 16, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you're missing the whole point of the Tea Party take-over of the Republican Party. Republican candidates are now free to agree with people about how bad Republicans were in the past, but now the bad Republicans have all been purged from the party.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on September 16, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the 'civil war' in the Republican party that we're all treating as some sort of springboard for Democratic success is a fabrication intended to fire up the GOP base.

How quickly we forget that the 'civil war' between the Clinton supporters and Obama supporters in 2008 was one of the reason why the Democratic base was so fired up.

Sure there were a few holdouts, but ultimately everyone rallied around the nominee, the same way the GOP will unify behind all of their candidates.

I can't believe that the war between the Tea Party and the GOP is nothing more than manufactured drama intended to create distance from Bush, rebrand, and allow racists to hide comfortably in plain sight.

Posted by: doubtful on September 16, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

You don't need a meteorologist to know which way the winds are blowing

Dylan paraphrase fail. Sorry, Steve.

Posted by: Gregory on September 16, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Aw, c'mon, man. It was a harmless paraphrase. Not as powerful as a quote...but,no biggie.


Here's the key: Democrats, young, not-so young and old and moderates who consider themselves independents cast votes against radical tea party people AND the party that has the policies which drove the car into the ditch. The GOP really hasn't done much to raise their stature to the public since 1) Katrina, 2)the Financial Crisis and the Recession began.

For the GOP as a whole to the public, there is no there there. That's why the tea party has gained traction as an alternative to the GOP.

People like Palin are doing the Democratic Party a favor by splitting the GOP. Everytime one of those jokers is deemed credible by another, more nationally reknown joker (an angel gets its wings?)....(nah.) it only furthers to splinter the republican party.

The "groundswell" is most likely barely there. The most animated voters in GOP primaries were supporting tea party people. They will be the most animated ones come November. But, in sheer numbers, they may not be there. And, their numbers will be negligible if the Democratic Party can turn out the vote.

Sure, we can think large numbers are disenchanted. And, I am, too. But, I don't want to think that a hyper-crazy version of the 1994 "revolution" will result. There's nothing appealing to that for any progressive minded person. And, believe me, whether they articulate or not, no matter how they articulate their beliefs, only a few stragglers don't want progress.

I have yet to hear of one tea party candidate truly saying how their solutions truly will make things better. More often than not they point fingers and say that shouldn't be and they are against it.

But, even if the numbers of disenchanted tea party people aren't there, it won't mean a dang thing if more Democrats and moderate republican/independents decide not to vote. And, surely, there are moderate republicans who can see that their interests aren't gonna be served by that lady in Delaware.

Posted by: gus on September 16, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Let me put it this way, when it comes down to moderate republicans: if they are asked if they identify with the tea party candidates, in their districts or states or elsewhere, would they say yes?

They may agree on the fiscal stances of the candidates.That may be true. But, truly identifying? Wanting to have a beer with them? I get the feeling some of the moderates and some of the conservatives are not exactly comfortable with the fringe of their party.

I may be wrong and maybe some of them will think: just get them in the door and we'll shut the cage and then we'll tame them. But, how likely is that? When it comes down to discipline, I think the wheels are off the bus for the GOP. If the wheels were still on, the tea party would be a third party and we wouldn't be discussing them now.

So, that lack of party cohesion isn't beneficial for the GOP come November.

Posted by: gus on September 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

There is always hope; that and $5 will get you a number three breakfast heart attack at McDonalds. Democratic party leaders need to "rock the vote" or some or all of these lunatics will come to power. I would rather arm jihadists with nuclear weaponry... They are at least more predictable!

Posted by: Trollop on September 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

"...it's hard not to think Dems still have a chance."

Until you realize that the so-called leadership of the dumbocrat party abandoned Howard Dean's 50 state strategy in favor of the Clintonian 15 state strategy.

Like Billy Bob Clinton, the Obomination objective seems to be more about reelection of the president than it does about dumbocraps controlling the Senate, Congress, and national political accomplishments.

Posted by: SadOldVet on September 16, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

i'm one of those voters who say it is time for their own member of Congress to be replaced, but my current gop rep is a lock....besides, somewhere between 85%-90% of all voters live in house districts where there is no race....they can say it's time for a change until they're blue n the face...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on September 16, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I hope it's not true but Americans are acting like children who are going to hold their breath till they turn blue or vote for Republicans or something.

Posted by: plapeir on September 16, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Who's doing more to improve the economy? 48% say President Obama, 28% say Republicans.

Wow! And what do those 28% think that the Republicans have actually done to improve the economy? Are those the same 28% that still think George W. Bush was a most awesome President?

Posted by: josef on September 16, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

@Gus - Have to agree with Gregory there. "Weatherman" and "meteorologist" are not interchangeable in the political context. The double entendre in Dylan's original lyric would have hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Dave on September 16, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about turnout, Steve. Republicans will turn out in droves in November. Half the Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008, won't even bother to vote. Watch. Democrats will be utterly slaughtered in this election.

Posted by: Sam Simple on September 16, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Even on health care, 40% support repeal. But when the poll tells respondents that repeal would go back to allowing insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions, support for repeal drops to 19% -- suggesting the repeal push would fail miserably if Americans were told of the consequences."

The Democrats were fools not to build their health care message around the hideous pre-existing condition exclusion. People despise it, and the Democrats could have hammered the GOP on that issue. Instead, the Dems allowed the GOP to control the health reform debate and drag down the popularity of the bill. The Dems' only hope now is to remind the voters that the GOP wants to bring back the vile insurance practice of "dump and deny." The Dems need to make clear that this so-called "socialist" bill merely allows breast cancer survivors and other uninsurables to purchase their own private insurance, whereas they were banned before. If Democrats don't make political hay out of the GOP's reinstatement of the pre-existing condition exclusion, they are truly hopeless.

Posted by: ameshall on September 16, 2010 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Actually there have now been 4 polls showing pretty much a tied race.

First you have the Politico poll showing a dead heat.

But you also have a number of polls that have come out in the last 36 hours, most of which look measurably better for the Dems than recent soundings have.

The GWU poll shows the two sides tied. PPP shows a 1 point Dem advantage. CBS/NYT shows a 2 point GOP advantage.

I still don't know why it seems to be a given the Repubs will have a net gain of something like 40 seats in the house when the latest polls just don't indicate that.


Posted by: ESM on September 16, 2010 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Does the Huckster realize that prohibiting health insurance to people with preexisting conditions would mean that the following people would be unable to buy health insurance at any price for he following ailments:

Rush Limbaugh for his ear implants and prescription drug addiction;

Sarah Palin for her youngest child with Down's Syndrome;

Dick Cheney for his heart disease;

Laura Ingraham for breast cancer or perhaps any other form of cancer;

Rudy Giuliani for prostate cancer or any other form of cancer;

Michael Milken of junk bonds and Shas Party West Bank settlements infamy for prostate cancer or any other form of cancer; and,

David Koch of Koch brothers' infamy for cancer.

Posted by: Mark on September 17, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't want to be rude, here, but...
Mark, you do realize that every person you listed would always be able to buy health insurance for themselves, no matter what their medical histories looked like, don't you?
I wouldn't be terribly surprised if any or all of them were comped for their own policies...

Posted by: smartalek on September 17, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

you've got a great weblog here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my weblog?

Posted by: Cheyenne Point on March 28, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

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