Political Animal


September 14, 2011 10:10 AM Mainstream still not siding with GOP on economy

By Steve Benen

Every major poll shows President Obama struggling, due in large part to the public’s frustrations and anxieties over the still-weak economy. But if Republicans think they’re capitalizing on these sentiments, they’re mistaken.

President Obama’s disapproval ratings may be at an all-time high, but in a new CNN/ORC International poll, more Americans say they trust him on economic matters more than they do Republicans in Congress.

The survey released on Wednesday shows that although a lot of Americans are still unsure what’s in the president’s new jobs bill, they like most of the major proposals offered in the plan that was sent to Congress Monday.

“By a 43-35 percent margin, a plurality of Americans approve of the economic program Obama outlined in his speech to Congress last week, but more than one in five don’t have any view at all of the jobs bill,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Asked who they trust more to handle the economy, a 46% plurality side with the president, while 37% prefer Republicans. That, in and of itself, is a little surprising — Obama’s numbers on the economy are pretty awful — and reinforces the perception that the GOP isn’t capitalizing at all.

Likewise, two-thirds of respondents in the CNN poll want policymakers to focus on job creation over deficit reduction, while congressional Republicans believe the opposite.

And on the American Jobs Act, a plurality support the White House’s plan, but the more important results show strong support for individual provisions of the plan: clear majorities of Americans support cutting the payroll tax (65% support), providing state aid to protect jobs for teachers and first responders (74%), and investing in infrastructure (64%).

Republicans oppose all of these ideas.

The CNN poll is largely consistent with two other recent national polls — surveys from National Journal and NBC/WSJ — that found “despite all the disapproval and pessimism, Americans approve of the actual fiscal policies Obama is proposing.”

We know Republicans care about polls and can read the data as easily as the rest of us. Whether they’ll be swayed by any of this remains to be seen. More on that soon.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • DAY on September 14, 2011 10:19 AM:

    Republicans know that (A) the public pays little attention to details, (B) is not very bright, and (C) therefore demands simple "solutions" to complex problems.
    Examples of (C) include "You are taxed too much", "Government regulations hurt business, and "Democrats want to rape your wife and eat your children."

  • c u n d gulag on September 14, 2011 10:27 AM:

    Republicans won't be swayed.

    They're just biding their time until Luntz and the "Think Tanks" can message this their way.
    Then, onto Drudge.
    Then Rush starts to blow.
    Then his wannabe's follow.
    Then F*CKS News and the pundtwits pick it up.
    The the MSM will have to react.
    And that reaction gives the message credence.
    And then Drudge covers the reaction.
    And then Rush starts to reblow.
    And his wannabe's...

    That, folks, is the Right Wing Wurlitzer.

    And pretty soon, BS is accepted reality.

    And the public will believe the "The American Jobs Act" is a Death Panel that prevents the "Job Creators (all blessings be upon them)" from pouring down jobs like life-giving raindrops in a torrential downpour on Texas's parched soil.

    Because, yes, the American people are THAT stupid - and you can look no further than our MSM for the blame.

  • T2 on September 14, 2011 10:29 AM:

    agreed with gulag. The Right will continue to say the public is overwhelmingly on their side and the Media will just smile and say "thank you".

  • Ben on September 14, 2011 10:30 AM:

    I fear that as Democrats focus on saving Obama's second term, the Republicans will take the senate, redistrict most states, and continue their focus on stacking the judiciary and blocking all political appointments.

    So Obama won't be able to do anything if he wins a second term anyway, and our country will be paying a long-term price with a judiciary comprised of lifetime-appointed Republican radicals.

  • Josef K on September 14, 2011 10:41 AM:

    I've one quibble here:

    We know Republicans care about polls and can read the data as easily as the rest of us. Whether they’ll be swayed by any of this remains to be seen. More on that soon.

    Given the demonstrated lack of intellectual depth and sophistication the Republican caucus has demonstrated since 2008, never mind their near-Cromwellesque zeal to oppose the Obama Administration and their abundance of well-heeled patrons, I'm not convinced they're either reading nor understanding the polls.

    In that same vein, I fear even if they are reading and understanding, they're not comprehending any of it. Not because they're necessarily stupid, but because they feel none of the pain or anxiety that's suffusing the electorate these days. The whole of Washington is simply so insulated from such things they may well have convinced themselves nothing is really wrong with the country.

    If so, a serious case of blowback may well be coming. I'm not looking forward to seeing if I'm correct here, hoping to the gods I'm not.

  • vico on September 14, 2011 10:50 AM:

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  • N.Wells on September 14, 2011 11:20 AM:

    As has been pointed out before, massive public disillusionment works just fine for the R's. Having the majority of voters stay home in disgust and disappointment will let a minority of fired-up Obama haters dominate at the polls.

    As everything sours, the inclination of Democratic politicians will be to try to save their individual hides, but the solution requires Obama and the congressional and senate Dems to start campaigning hard for each other, with the message that if the voters give the Dems the presidency and working majorities in the senate and the house, good things will happen, but if the R's get their hands on any one of the three, everything will grind down into a dismal morass that will have us thinking of 2010 as the good old days.

  • Berkeleian on September 14, 2011 11:37 AM:

    So long as voters, as in the NY 9th, think it is a good idea to "send a message to Obama" by voting for the Republican, Republicans have no incentive to change their behavior.

  • Dude on September 14, 2011 12:23 PM:

    Yet, they are still winning elections(republicans that is). What a country!!

  • j_h_r on September 14, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Reposting my comment on the subject from K-Drum's place (he was also linking to Greg Sargent at Plum Line):
    At the risk of purposely applying the pundit's fallacy (TM) I completely agree with greg as that's exactly how I would answer the pollster's:

    j_h_r, do you agree with the following proposals advanced to heal our ailing economy?
    me: you betcha. keynesian measures, more public investmant, gov't job-creating measures, it all sounds like something AWESOME.

    j_h_r, how do you think Obama is handling the current economic troubles?
    me: he's sucking Republican ass, that's how he's doing. all those awesome proposals you mentioned are PROPOSALS you twit. he ain't getting any credit from me until he actually enacts some of them, and right now his name might as well be Barack Hussein Emmanuel Goldstein considering the opposition he's facing.

    Geez, this ain't rocket science. It's not like the two questions are mutually exclusive... show more show less

  • Mayo on September 15, 2011 4:23 PM:

    Can anyone please mention Rep Gifford sponsored debt reduction bill?
    it's introduced in January but has been ignored.

    H.R.204 - Congressional Pay Cut Act
    To provide for a 5 percent reduction in the rates of basic pay for Members of Congress.

    The current salary (2008) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $169,300 per year. Some members chose not to increase their pay.

    The median personal wealth for members of Congress grew to $911,510 in 2009, up from $785,515 in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly half of the members of Congress are millionaires.

    the white house stuff and most federal workers now have their pay freeze and 10% of public workers have been fired.

    I know 5% pay cut of 50 senators and 435 congressmen isn't much when 4 trillions reduction is the goal, It's a small nice gesture from leaders.

  • jlt on September 15, 2011 7:04 PM:

    For Gods sake, these fools are threatening a govn't SHUTDOWN over VICTIMS RELIEF...

    We Are Americans..are the republicans even thinking about anything but defeating the President and protecting their CORPORATE DONORS.

    Disgusting and vile!

  • Sandy on October 03, 2011 6:49 PM:

    The Republican party likes to use mind conditioning and capitalize (and do nothing to help people) on bad economy for what they see as the disgruntled voter factor. They view this bad economic recovery as good for their party (but what about us?).
    Has the tea party learned yet, that this is so?