Political Animal


October 18, 2011 8:35 AM Disconnect grows between GOP voters and GOP lawmakers

By Steve Benen

Over the last several weeks, polls have been pretty consistent about public attitudes on jobs: Americans are desperate to see Washington act, and they’re broadly supportive of the ideas proposed by Democrats. The latest numbers from CNN confirms this, but this poll adds an important twist.

CNN asked respondents for their take on each of the ideas in the American Jobs Act — payroll tax cut, jobs for teachers/first responders, infrastructure investments, unemployment aid, increased taxes on millionaires and billionaires — and every component enjoyed broad support. Indeed, the two most popular ideas were increased taxes on the wealthy (76% support) and aid to states to save public-sector jobs (75% support).

But it’s worth taking the next step and looking at the cross-tabs (pdf). We can see, for example, what Republicans think about these same ideas, and appreciate the massive disconnect between GOP voters and the GOP lawmakers presumably reflecting their wishes.

Here, for example, is the breakdown of what self-identified Republican voters think of the components of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, as it currently exists in the U.S. Senate:

Do you favor or oppose “cutting the payroll tax for all American workers”?

Republicans in favor: 58%
Republicans opposed: 40%

Do you favor or oppose “providing federal money to state governments to allow them to hire teachers and first responders”?

Republicans in favor: 63%
Republicans opposed: 36%

Do you favor or oppose “increasing federal spending to build and repair roads, bridges, and schools”?

Republicans in favor: 54%
Republicans opposed: 46%

Do you favor or oppose “increasing federal aid to unemployed workers”?

Republicans in favor: 36%
Republicans opposed: 63%

Do you favor or oppose “increasing the taxes paid by people who make more than one million dollars a year”?

Republicans in favor: 56%
Republicans opposed: 43%

Remember, overall, each of these ideas enjoy broad national support, but I’m highlighting the opinions of Republicans only. And in four of the five key parts to the Democratic plan, self-identified GOP voters approve of Obama’s ideas, in some cases by wide margins.

I mention this in part to show just how mainstream the American Jobs Act is, but also to note the chasm between Republican voters and Republican policymakers. With 63% of the GOP’s rank-and-file supporting, for example, aid to states to protect teachers’ and first responders’ jobs, it’s tempting to think at least some GOP lawmakers in Washington would support the idea. But in reality, that’s just not the case — literally zero Republicans on Capitol Hill are willing to even allow a vote on a popular jobs idea, during a jobs crisis, that even their own party’s voters strongly support.

Congratulations, congressional Republicans. You’re now far more extreme than your own supporters.

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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  • hells littlest angel on October 18, 2011 8:41 AM:

    So the one thing Republican voters don't go for, the thing that distinguishes them from Democratic voters, is extending aid to the unemployed. They really don't like that.

    And the Republican politicians manage to leverage the fuck out of that basic selfishness of their constituents.

    You almost have to admire that.

  • Brenna on October 18, 2011 8:43 AM:

    I'm guessing reality is gonna smack these a-holes in the face in the not so far off future.

    Even dim wit Eric Cantor can smell the change in the air:

    "Top Republican to address income disparity as "Occupy" protests continue"

    But of course we know addressing income disparity means giving deeper tax cuts to the wealthy and fewer regulations. I really think people are starting to see through this garbage. Obama didn't help himself with the austerity bs, but he seems to have shifted course nicely, and well, better late than never.

    Oh, how I loathe these republicans in congress. They're just greedy scum.

  • Danp on October 18, 2011 8:44 AM:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but the main difference between the average Dem and the average Rep is not values. It is information. Ask these same Republicans if they like anything about Obama's proposals, and they will undoubtedly say "NO" by a margin of 5 to 1.

  • c u n d gulag on October 18, 2011 8:46 AM:

    Hidden in those poll numbers, is that 27% - the true fascist ignorati base.

    They are the ones who go out to vote in the primaries.

    And they are the ones who determine who wins that primary and represents the RepubliCONFEDERATE Party in the general elections.

    And there's something that's not quite human about that 27% base.
    They are aptly named, because they are base.

  • Danp on October 18, 2011 8:50 AM:

    And the Republican politicians manage to leverage the fuck out of that basic selfishness of their constituents.

    It's not selfishness they leverage. It's ignorance. They convince people that only lazy people or slutty single moms are unemployed for more than two weeks. And it's strange how people can empathize with their neighbors, but still think that around the country, everybody is just gaming the system.

  • Ron Byers on October 18, 2011 9:00 AM:

    To paraphrase a famous Democrat, where are the Republican voters going to go. As long as they are motivated to vote against that black president, they don't really care that their leaders are hurting them and the rest of us.

    Don't forget for a minute the effects of Obama derangement on the average Republican voter. They are willing to hurt themselves and their children to get at Obama.

  • AK Liberal on October 18, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Breaking up the AJA and bringing each component to the Senate is looking smart. The difficulty will be getting past the procedural hurdles as the GOP will drag out everything on the calendar.

  • Mark-NC on October 18, 2011 9:04 AM:

    I think they left out a basic question:

    I will vote Republican in the next election regardless of who the candidate is?

    Republicans in favor: 100%
    Republicans opposed: 0%

  • AndThenThere'sThat on October 18, 2011 9:10 AM:

    And it's strange how people can empathize with their neighbors, but still think that around the country, everybody is just gaming the system.

    Most likely their neighbors aren't blackity black. In the Confederate mythology, it's the urban centers that are leaching off the honest, hard working, pickup truck driving American. Of course, a quick look at state contributions into the Federal system dispels that myth.

  • hells littlest angel on October 18, 2011 9:11 AM:

    OK, Danp, I bow to your more generous characterization of Republican voters. Ignorance, distempered by fear.

  • Jurgan on October 18, 2011 9:11 AM:

    "Congratulations, congressional Republicans. You’re now far more extreme than your own supporters."

    Not really. Oh, sure, the middle class white collar workers may not agree, but the real supporters of the GOP are the big money donors who can give millions of unregulated dollars. That gives them the attack ads to buy as many of the rubes' votes as they need.

  • T2 on October 18, 2011 9:17 AM:

    talking GOP disconnect...on all areas they just can't work their "policy" around real life.
    Take Michael McCaul, a GOPer House Rep in Texas. Yesterday he was "investigating" why it took the Federal Government so long to respond to the Texas wildfire disaster. Yet, of course, he was on board with the Cantor "no disaster money without cutting social programs" thing in the House ( which failed thankfully). So they want the MONEY but they don't want to PAY for it. So GOP.

  • Mudge on October 18, 2011 9:18 AM:

    It's the same old duality. Republicans like the policies, but the politics demands that Obama get nothing that will improve the economy. So we get rants about what the voters like, or that the policies were originally supported by Republicans in past years. It's a waste of time. None of them will be enacted during the Obama administration no matter how sensible. Republicans want a bad economoy for 2012.

  • Peter C on October 18, 2011 9:18 AM:

    If you want to see the 'opposed' numbers go way up, rephrase the questions to add "if someone could call this a 'win' for President Obama" at the end of each question.

    When politics is seen as only a game, when elections are only a horserace, when party affiliation is more important than (or even perhaps a prerequisite for) national identity, then the 1% will always be able to manipulate the ignorant and the lickspittles into voting against their own best interests.

  • FRP on October 18, 2011 9:44 AM:

    With all sounds played for the fuzzy fury of a televised Madison Avenue conundrum finishing a house of sound built on sand . The age is showing on the body politic , and the typical reaction is denial of an aging plants inefficiency , with a promise to work harder , reinforcing physical impossibilities that hurt one day more at sunrise .
    The time it takes to realize the pain we are suffering from is insulation from Pogo's shock , "We have the met the enemy , and he is us" .
    Two shocks in one realization the brain protects us from .
    Republicans ?
    We have to protect them from themselves .

  • Neil B on October 18, 2011 10:02 AM:

    Good points overall, but: is it really such a good idea to cut payroll tax, to any degree, ever? We all know the PT funds Social Security, and so supporters are saying "oh, it will be temporary ...." ... but so were the Bush tax cuts. Once cut (yeah, even with "built in expiration" - like the BTCs!) it's hard to walk back. And then what? With less revenue coming into Social Security, the program will be easier to attack as undefunded, replace, divert the "temporary reduction" into some private account, and so on. Don't do it, or watch real hard what's already in the pipeline - "at the end of the day", this scheme is bad news.

    "Fine minds make find distinctions."

  • Karen B on October 18, 2011 10:49 AM:

    I must question the wording on the unemployment issue. Asked the way it was, it appears that they were asking respondents if they were in favor of an INCREASE in unemployment compensation. I'm perplexed as to why they didn't word it as an EXTENSION.

    It seems to me that the poor wording on this one crucial question can be used against continued relief for the chronically unemployed. That is unacceptable. CNN should be forced to redo this portion of the survey.

  • Anonymous on October 18, 2011 12:03 PM:

    The same thing hit me, Karen. Whatever the wording or intent is of the bill is how the question should be asked. While I don't remember exactly what that is (and don't have time to check), based on everything Obama has done prior, it's probably along the lines of increasing funds to extend benefits. To extend benefits. If so, CNN didn't do a good job of re-phrasing.

  • Tanya on October 18, 2011 2:37 PM:

    I agree, with all the points make. But would stood out for me most is the fact, that they (repubs. voters) agree with the majority of the AJA, the bigger problem is that they can't stand the person who have propose these ideas aka (Pres. Obama)...

    Which bring home another question, 1. If majority repubs. agree with the AJA, then why are they pushing their representives vote on the bill? 2. Is it the Pres. or the party? 3. Why aren't msm asking these questions as well as the pollisters? 4. Why aren't OWS protesters pushing for this? 5. Have anyone in the media who supposely been at the protesters ask these questions?

  • Andy on October 18, 2011 2:55 PM:

    Because you incorrectly label them "Republican Policymakers." They have made no efforts to actually create policy, but simply oppose anything that Obama endorses or supports, even if it is an idea/policy that was proposed or supported by a Republican.

    Ensuring Obama is a 1 term president is their ONLY objective...but I believe the American people will understand that that is an irresponsible way to govern.

  • tamiasmin on October 18, 2011 5:28 PM:

    I'm so easily confused! For months (years?) I've been told that the Tea Party and other radical elements have been pulling Republican elected officials hard to the right. Now seemingly those officials have leapfrogged their own supporters. Or have Republican voters been moving stealthily leftward recently? I can't keep up!

  • Doug on October 18, 2011 10:16 PM:

    Based on their answers to the poll questions, it's starting to look as if the Republican/Teabaggers in DC may have outsmarted themselves.
    They ran on a platform of providing jobs; they have provided NO jobs. The Democrats have proposed legislation that, with one exception, a majority of the respondents support. The Republican/Teabaggers in DC are determined NOT to allow any of these things to become law.
    If the poll results are accurate, and if the Republican/Teabaggers in DC continue their obstruction, how are Republican/Teabagger polticians going to lure those to the polls? How many of those voters, while likely NOT voting for any Democrats, may stay home rather than reward any politician/s deliberately risking their constituents' employment? Especially if the Republican/Teabaggers cause a second recession?
    Interesting times...

  • HMDK on October 19, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Yes, they thought they saw a winning surge and tried to not only surf it but to make it swell. They miscalculated. How is this hard to keep up with for anyone?

  • skeptonomist on October 20, 2011 8:37 PM:

    "Extreme" is not the word. Republican lawmakers are more plutocratic than Republicans polled. But so are Democratic lawmakers more plutocratic than Democratic rank and file. Remember, on these votes the Democrats know the bill is going to fail, so they can vote yes; their big-money backers understand that the lawmakers have to appear populist and they tolerate this when it doesn't count. It would be interesting to see from some actual contested votes whether Democrat or Republican lawmakers (and Presidents) are more plutocratic with respect to their party constituents.