Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 5, 2010

GOP'S 'PLEDGE' OFF TO A VERY SLOW START.... Much of the political world has waited for quite a while for congressional Republicans to offer some kind of policy vision, so the unveiling of the "Pledge to America" two weeks ago was something of a breakthrough. Sure, the agenda was a repackaging of the same old, tired, failed, and discredited ideas the GOP has been touting for years, but it was better than literally nothing.

Two weeks after presenting the "Pledge" to the country, how's the proposal doing? Not very well. The same Republican candidates who presumably would be responsible for trying to pass the "Pledge" are pretending it doesn't exist. Most voters, meanwhile, who were presumably supposed to be impressed with the document, have never heard of it.

News of Republican congressional candidates' "Pledge to America" has not broken though, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Only about a third of Americans are familiar with the new GOP document; fully two-thirds express no knowledge of the conservative framework that proposes to reduce the size of government and reform Congress.

In a memo sent out to candidates today, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich cites the Pledge as a central component to the GOP's closing argument in the campaign's final weeks.

Yet, only 37 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of conservatives say they've heard of the 21-page policy agenda, which was rolled out with some fanfare two weeks ago.

Adding insult to injury, among those who have heard of the "Pledge," the proposal isn't winning anyone over. In the Post/ABC poll, 45% said the agenda doesn't make any difference, 29% said it makes them less likely to vote Republican, and 23% said it makes a GOP vote more likely. Among self-identified independents, it's even worse -- 51% said the agenda doesn't make any difference, 30% said it makes them less likely to vote Republican, and only 17% said it makes a GOP vote more likely.

The point isn't just to point and laugh at the wildly unsuccessful rollout of a widely-panned Republican vision, though there is some entertainment value in that. Rather, I emphasize all of this because the polls offer a hint about a future mandate -- or in this case, the lack thereof.

We obviously don't know what's going to happen in the midterms, but it still seems like a very safe bet that Republicans will gain a lot of seats, and quite possibly, the House majority. If so, GOP leaders will very likely start arguing early next year, "Americans elected us after we unveiled our 'Pledge,' which means we have a mandate to advance its provisions."

If a clear majority of the country, including Republicans' own supporters, have never heard of the thing, and those who have heard of it aren't impressed, let's state for the record right now that the notion of a "mandate" is pretty silly.

Steve Benen 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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All the GOP would ever need to claim a mandate is air to breath.

Posted by: stevio on October 5, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Give 'em the mandate. They want to shred the safety net and give the rich tax cuts? Good. Maybe Joe Sixpack will have an epiphany in the soup line.

Posted by: walt on October 5, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Given that many voters think a man "date" is something else, I am not surprised that the GOP are acting in this manner.

To the zealots, who know that what they do is right for god country, it doesn't matter what polls show; they'll plow right ahead with their agenda anyway.

America's arteries are hardening. We are not thinking as clearly, we are prone to irrationality, and a dogged sense of stubborness seems to be taking hold.

The Pledge is toxic.

And I mean period.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 5, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"let's state for the record right now that the notion of a "mandate" is pretty silly."

Silly, yes. Will they do it if they win anything, damn right they will. They'll likely do it win or lose.

Posted by: zak822 on October 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Stewart eviscerated the Pledge. If only the Dems were half as good as JS.

Posted by: Jon Stewart on October 5, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Does the GOP have campaign materials I can hand out?

2:1 negative for independents?

Let's get the word out! Pledge for America, baby!

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 5, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Silly rabbit. Rethugs always have a mandate, even when they're in the minority. The Democrats never do, under any circumstances. And the Village media will duly so report.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 5, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

It is essential that the Democrats keep The Pledge alive until Republicans publicly disavow it. This is yet another available cudgel that should not be ignored.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 5, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

There's something very "New Coke" about the Pledge. It's so very obviously a piss-poor knockoff of the Contract With America, itself a successful campaign gimmick with lousy follow through.

I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where Marge becomes disillusioned with life and decides to park her car in the middle of Springfield Bridge. The police arrive and Chief Wiggum asks, "Did you try flashing your lights at her?"

When the officers say they did, Wiggum sighs and says, "Well, I'm out of ideas."

Posted by: chrenson on October 5, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP "mandate": Silly? Check. A dishonest crock of sh*t that has little support? Check.

You can bet they (including Faux, Limpba, et al) will run with it.

Posted by: nemisten on October 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

After GWB's 2nd non-win, he claimed a mandate. Lesson taken: to a Republican, *any* win is a mandate, even if you don't actually win.


Posted by: Zorro on October 5, 2010 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

After what the GOP did to the Dems' "mandate" (health reform, climate, etc), they never get to ustter that word again.

Posted by: Marko on October 5, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

among those who have heard of the "Pledge," the proposal isn't winning anyone over

The "Pledge" isn't intended to win anyone over. Just as with the GOP's laughable "alternate plan" for the budget, it's meant to counter the Democratic charge that the GOP has no plan and is just the "Party of No." The GOP can point to this ridiculous document and then the so-called "liberal media" can spin its favorite he-said, she-said narrative and just leave it there.

Posted by: Gregory on October 5, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Among self-identified independents, it's even worse -- 51% said the agenda...

But as Steve said in his 1:25 post, "There's a lot wrong with this. Treating "independents" as a coherent entity, for example, continues to be a common mistake."

Just sayin'

Posted by: Danp on October 5, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

When you really think about it, Republicans have offered nothing of any substance for the past few years. That's because what they really want to achieve will not be popular with most American voters. Whether it's been about health care, the economy, education, tax policy, etc., they promise that they have a plan until they are blue in the face. Then, when they finally do unveil their big plan, there is no substance. It's all rehash of the same old conservative talking points. One could characterize them as the brash, loud, studly, self-absorbed guy in the bar who finally convinces the babe to go home with him, and he can't perform- all bluster, no action.

That's what I think about every time I listen to John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and the rest of them talk- EEeeewwwwww!!!!

Posted by: Carol All on October 5, 2010 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hello to my idols Charlie and Steve B.

How can a party allow such a horrid party to get re-elected
Clinton left Bush Heaven On Earth
Bush left Obama Hell on Earth
Clinton left Bush an 1800B Budget and four balanced budgets
Bush Left Obama a 3600 Budget
Clinton left Bush a Surplus
Bush left Obama a 1400 Billion Deficit.
Clinton left Bush a 5700B of Debt
Bush left Obama 11,800B of Debt
Clinton left Bush a 70% increase in Gdp
Bush left Obama a 40% increase in Gdp.
Clinton left Bush a 19.8% of Gdp in Revenues
Bush left Obama a 14,8% of Gdp in Revenues
Clinton left Bush an 18.5% of Gdp in Expenditure
Bush left Obama a 24,7% of Gdp in Revenue
Clinton left Bush a 237,00 net new jobs created per month
Bush left Obama a 31,000 lowest since Hoover.
Clinton left Bush Peace on Earth
Bush left Obama Hell on Earth Two disastrous wars
Clinton left Bush a President most highly rated of any peacetime President in Asia, Africa, Europe.
Bush left Obama the most hated President in history
Bush left Obama an Housing Tsunami and Financial Volcano
Bush left Obama, in 2008, an 8500B Bail out commitment Anyone ever show this on tv?
Bush left Obama his Takeover of Fannie/Freddie, AIG, and first bailout of Chrysler

How can any honest informed person vote to re-continue such horrid actions and results?

clarence swinney
political historian
lifeaholics of america
comments appreciated cswinney2@triad.rr.com
author-Lifeaholic--Life story of workaholic failure to lifeaholic success
University President-"Every college student should have this book"

Posted by: clarence swinney on October 9, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK



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