Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 12, 2010

NOT MUCH OF A WELCOME PARTY.... When Republicans took the congressional majority in 1994, a clear majority of the public was happy about the change in power. When Congress switched again in 2006, an even larger majority was pleased with the new incoming majority and its agenda.

For all the assumptions among Republicans about voters giving them a mandate, and public support for what the GOP intends to do, there's ample evidence to the contrary.

Americans may have put Republicans back in charge of the House and strengthened the party's hand in the Senate in the 2010 elections, but there is little excitement about the results or optimism for the future, according to a new Pew poll.

Less than half -- 48 percent -- described themselves as "happy" that Republicans took over the House, while 34 percent said they were "unhappy" about the power change. Those numbers compare very unfavorably to how people felt when Democrats took over the House in 2006 (60 percent happy/24 percent unhappy) and when Republicans reclaimed the House majority in 1994 (57 percent happy/ 31 percent unhappy).

That lack of genuine excitement about the election is paired with an uncertainty about Republican policies for the future. Forty-one percent approved of the GOP's plans while 37 percent disapproved -- far below the 50 percent approve/21 percent disapprove for Democratic plans when they took over in the 2006 election.... The Republicans' victory then is best understood as a rejection of Democratic policies by voters rather than a warm embrace of the policies put forward by the GOP.

For two weeks, GOP leaders have been claiming to speak for the country. The "American people" gave them a House majority to cut taxes. The "American people" empowered them to cut spending and reduce the deficit. The "American people" want Republicans to gut the health care system and cut education spending.

Reality check: the "American people" think the economy stinks so they punished the incumbent majority. Republicans made gains because they were the alternative, not because they were right.

We're talking about the first time in recent memory in which an unpopular party was replaced with an even more unpopular party. That should be a weight on GOP shoulders, not a chip on GOP shoulders.

If Republicans think they're ahead because voters are buying what they're selling, they're badly misreading the election results.

Steve Benen 1:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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The "American people" seem to be unclear on how democracy works. Fortunately we have all those wonderful TEEVEE ads and Fox news to explain it to them.

Posted by: Micky effin mouse on November 12, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

This will amount to a lot less than Steve thinks. Too many voters "think" with their gonads and respect a party that appears to stand for something, even when they don't agree with the something. Of course, this is a lesson that the Democrats will never learn.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on November 12, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

They know this and like most everything politicians do its all spin so they can rationalize what they want to do not what the constituents want. Newt is off wanting to replace the left even though its Bush lite. They arent interested in a functioning democracy but creating a single hive minded minority that acts like it represents the majority. Fuhrer Prinzip.

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

A few years ago (before the 06 Dem takeover) the New Yorker ran an analysis comparing the total number of votes received by the two parties nationwide. In both chambers, the minority Dems had received substantially more total votes than the majority Republicans. I would love to see a similar comparison in light of this election.

I would do it, but I am still brushing my teeth and coming to grips with the fact that Jon Runyan is my voice in the halls of power. This may take a while.

Posted by: Chief Osceola on November 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

The conclusion of the quoted text:

"The Republicans' victory then is best understood as a rejection of Democratic policies by voters rather than a warm embrace of the policies put forward by the GOP."

is still a complete misstatement of the election. What "rejection"? How did the voters reject policies that they either don't understand, or understand to be the opposite of what they are?

The Dem losses came about because of the economy. It's that simple (as Steve has said here before).

Posted by: Ian A on November 12, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Benen, as usual, does not understand what a 'mandate from the American voters' is.

A mandate is what never occurs when democrats retake control. A mandate is always what occurs when a republican is elected (or selected) as president.

An example that Benen should be able to understand is that of George W. Bush took the oath of office on January 20, 2001. Even though he took office with less than 50% of the vote and had to have the voting stopped in Florida and our Supreme Court declare him the winner, he declared that he had a mandate and our corporately owned media echoed that view. Thus, he obviously had a real and clear mandate to implement 'compassionate conservative' ideals.

On January 20, 2009, when the black man took the oath of office after stealing the election with only 365 electoral votes and less than 70 million of our 300+ million citizens voting for him, our corporately owned media rightly announced that the only mandate that Obama had was to be 'center-right'. Obviously, the only mandate that Obama had was to compromise with republicans in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Hopefully, having this explained to him Benen will realize that retaking control of the Congress is a real mandate for republican control of all of the federal government!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 12, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Forty-one percent approved of the GOP's plans while 37 percent disapproved...

What plans? The GOP ain't got no steenking plans.

RPOV, you're slipping. Too much sarcasm to be mistaken for a Republican point of view.

Posted by: josef on November 12, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

"If Republicans think they're ahead because voters are buying what they're selling..."

Personally, I don't believe that Republicans particularly care what the voters think about them or their agenda, so long as they vote Republican. The goal is to get elected.

Then you can do as you wish, and the public be damned.

Posted by: zandru on November 12, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter repub: We have a mandate. We know we do. We bought it outright. Cash and carry.

Posted by: JoeW on November 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, We The People, put them in to fix what they screwed up.----Fat chance !

Posted by: roughdraft on November 12, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

They won. the American people voted them back in. Pols like this are meaningless. There's only one pol that counts and the results of that pol handed the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

Posted by: SaintZak on November 12, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ping ponk voting does not a mandate make.

Posted by: Skip on November 12, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe when the unemployment rate is 75% and people are eating tree bark, they might figure out that modern Republicans are as worthless as a bubble gum machine in a lockjaw ward!

Posted by: Sam Simple on November 12, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Buyers Remorse before they're even sworn in?

Posted by: bcinaz on November 12, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Less than half -- 48 percent -- described themselves as 'happy' that Republicans took over the House..."

Heh. Remember when Republicans were declaring Obama an unpopular failure because his approval ratings dipped below 50%?

Posted by: some other guy on November 12, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Is Bi-Partisanship possible in modern political America? Watch documentary SPLIT: A DIVDED AMERICA http://bit.ly/SPliT

Posted by: Anna on November 13, 2010 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK
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