Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 12, 2010

BLOOMBERG POLL SHOWS UNPOPULAR PARTY POISED TO MAKE HUGE GAINS.... Some of the descriptions of the results are clearly misleading, but there are some noteworthy results in the new Bloomberg poll. Most notably, Republicans may be poised to win at least one chamber of Congress, but they're still strikingly unpopular.

The poll finds Republicans in an anomalous position -- poised to make political gains while the party and its policies are unpopular. That stands in contrast to midterm elections in 1994 and 2006, when the insurgent party gained congressional control after polls showed voter attitudes tilting toward them.

Going through the results (pdf), it's tempting to think the landscape doesn't look especially favorable to the GOP at all. While Republican leaders say the nation's focus should be on deficit reduction and spending cuts, the American mainstream wants to focus on job creation. What's more, when it comes to actually trying to reduce the deficit, the most popular ideas are the progressive ones.

But perhaps my favorite part of the poll was on health care.

Turning to the health care law passed earlier this year, what is your opinion of the bill -- should it be repealed or not?

It should be repealed: 47%
It should not be repealed: 42%
Not sure: 11%

For reform proponents, that sounds discouraging, right? It is, right up until the poll goes through the specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and finds that some of them enjoy very strong support. Americans are inclined to support repeal of the health care law, right up until they're told what's in the health care law.

Eliminating lifetime caps? A 54% majority doesn't want this to be repealed. Protections for those with pre-existing conditions? A 75% majority doesn't want this to be repealed. Insurance exchanges for the uninsured? A 60% majority doesn't want this to be repealed. Allowing kids up to age 26 to remain on their parents' policies? A 67% majority doesn't want this to be repealed. Filling the Medicare donut hole? A 73% majority doesn't want this to be repealed.

Republicans really do seem to believe their repeal push next year will be a huge political winner for them. There's a reason the White House doesn't seem especially nervous.

In related news, the same Bloomberg poll showed Dems with a slight, three-point advantage on the generic ballot, the president's approval rating is still 47%, and the three most popular political figures in the country are Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Barack Obama, in that order.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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A lot of this can also be laid on the feet of Democrats who crappy messaging and communication has allowed Republicans to define the health insurance bill and the stimulus in their terms.

It's frustrating. A couple of weeks ago the White House launched a major effort to highlight the benefits of the Healthcare bill. There were videos on the WH web page, Obama gave a couple of big speeches, a couple of cabinet officials were all over the news giving interviews, Gibbs pushed it in his daily briefings etc etc.

How much of the general public heard or saw any of it?

Not many. The 'liberal' news media never really picked up on the story. And when they did they made certain to stress all the Republican talking points in opposition and gave the usual shallow explanations for what the law actually does.

And then you have Congressional Democrats. To best of my knowledge not a single one of them participated is this round of cheerleading. Most of them refuse to even discuss healthcare or the bill or what it does. They act ashamed of their own vote. Implicitly giving the Republican talking points credence.

The problem is that people believe in the policies of the Democratic party. They just lack any faith in the ability of the party to actually stand and fight for those policies.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 12, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is there another country in the world where so many voters seem so eager to cut off their noses to spite their faces?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 12, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I do hope that no one actually thinks that Republicans give a damn whether anyone actually supports their policies. It was charming how everyone in 2001 thought that GWB was going to be a cautious, reasonable centrist because he didn't really win - I mean, won by such a narrow margin.

Posted by: Rick Massimo on October 12, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

well the novel feature in this free for all is you could get more media coverage for showing up trying to disrupt a public meeting than you get if you try to give a public meeting on a national problem.

Posted by: Jamie on October 12, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I share your frustration, thorin-1. The attitudes of the general public are baffling beyond belief, and the dominance of right wing media isn't helping. The attitudes of some progressives that because they didn't get everything they wanted right off the bat they just aren't going to vote this year aren't very helpful, either.

It's really very simple. The problem with getting more of the good stuff done is that there are still too many Republicans in office. The solution is equally simple. Elect more Democrats to make even stronger majorities in the House and Senate.

That's not always possible in every case, but sitting on your hands and letting Republicans get elected who might not have otherwise succeeded is just nuts. So if you voted for Obama in '08 and are thinking of skipping this round, think again. We did it two years ago and got the job started. Let's keep it up and make sure it gets finished. All it takes is a piece of paper. It's up to you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on October 12, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I admire about Republicans is that they will defend core positions on their platform (ie. tax cuts for the rich, abortion ban) no matter how unpopular they are. Democrats will cut and run and break ranks the first time they have to defend an unpopular bill, even if it's a core part of their platform (Health care).

I know it wasn't in Obama's nature but he should've told his caucus that if you can't vote for this health care bill because your opposed to it on the right, then your not a Democrat. That, I believe would have forced some messaging discipline, which I think would have put the Dems in a better position

Posted by: Archon on October 12, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is easily explained by the simple fact that the vast majority of Americans are ignorant of even the most basic facts and the televsion and radio have told them the health care law is bad. They would probably still vote for it's repeal even after being told the specific provisions, likely wouldn't even make the connection. Somehow I wonder how this this country even functions on a daily basis.

Posted by: jjstraka on October 12, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest problem here is that rich, powerful progressives only want to talk the talk, not walk the walk. The Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife and countless other right wing moneybags are willing to throw endless amounts of money around to push their agenda, funding right wing think tanks and keeping food in the fridge for loathsome creatures like Ann Coulter or Jonah Goldberg through their wingnut welfare jobs. Meanwhile, "liberal" billionaire Goerge Soros publicy announces that he and his money are "sitting out" this election because the Republican wave is too powerful.

Voters notice that. Right wingers are willing to put their money where there mouth is. Liberals aren't.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on October 12, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Easily explained by the fact that the vast majority of Americans are ignorant of even the most basic provisions in the health-care bill. Why would they need to be? TV and radio told them it was bad. Even after being told the specifics, they would probably still vote for repeal, they wouldn't even make the connection. Sometimes I wonder how this country even functions on a daily basis.

Posted by: jjstraka on October 12, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

See, this is where you need to be focusing your commercials. Not demonizing the voters who like Palin and others.

How about a commercial that says talks about the donut hole, and then says Republicans want to repeal it.

And then about eliminating lifetime caps. And allowing kids to be covered.

At the end, say Republicans: Wrong on Healthcare. Wrong for you.

Posted by: DR on October 12, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, you can find majorities for preserving many specific aspects of the health care bill, such as the ban on discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions. But the same survey also shows a majority supporting repeal of the mandate to have insurance (by 51-45). And you can't have a preexisting conditions discrimination ban without the mandate (or at least that's how our peer nations have chosen to address the problem).

Contradictions abound in the survey. Fifty-five percent believe that the deficit poses a severe threat to the nation's economic future, yet 50% say raising the Medicare benefits age shouldn't even be "on the table" for discussion, 49% say the same about Social Security, and a whopping 71% about increasing income taxes by 2% on the middle class. That doesn't leave much room for serious deficit reduction. (From what I've read, raising taxes solely on the wealthy won't suffice to solve our long-term fiscal problems.)

Too many people want something for nothing. And it's hard to get elected without promising it. Problem is that once in office, it's impossible to deliver it. And so people blame "Washington" for failing to meet their own incompatible demands.

Posted by: dsimon on October 12, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The problem Doctor Whom is that rich right-wing people are funding causes that will inevitably put more money in their and their friends pocket. Left-wing causes directly or indirectly end up costing rich people, so wealthy people have to look for other motivations besides personal profit to give to progressive causes.

A lot easier to donate a dollar so I'll end up with two dollars then to donate a dollar and get a thank you card.

Posted by: Archon on October 12, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Too many people want something for nothing. And it's hard to get elected without promising it. Problem is that once in office, it's impossible to deliver it. And so people blame "Washington" for failing to meet their own incompatible demands.
Posted by: dsimon

you nailed it.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on October 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

So I am visiting OR and WA, and one of the striking things about the TV ads most of the R's are running is that they do not actually label their candidates as Republicans. There are nicey nice ads for a woman running in the SW washington district, and attack ads against a dem, but no where do you see the "r" word until the occasional ad paid for by the repubs.

My guess is that the r's see the same polls, and know that the work republican is unpopular.

btw the ads are pretty stunning - I had no idea that the "bailout" was done by some other party, as was the huge runup of spending. ANd the stimulus was a total failure.

The r ads seem to be al lies, all the time

Posted by: bigtuna on October 12, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK



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