Free Markets, Free People

CNN Poll: 67% Unhappy With How Federal Government Works

That isn’t particularly surprising since we recently cited a Gallup poll saying the number was 75%.  Suffice it to say the vast majority of the country doesn’t like how the federal government is doing its job.

What’s even more fascinating though is how CNN chooses to report that:

But the ABC News/Washington Post survey, released Thursday morning, suggests a partisan divide, with 8 out of ten conservative Republicans viewing how the federal government works in a negative way, but nearly 6 out of ten liberal Democrats saying they were enthusiastic or satisfied.

The 67 percent dissatisfaction level is the highest in ABC News/Washington post polling since it peaked at 70 percent in March 1996, in the months after the a federal government shutdown led by Republicans.

So which political party gets blamed for this dissatisfaction? A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicated that nearly half the public said they were angry at both political parties, with 11 percent angry only at the Republicans and 9 percent angry only at the Democrats.

So assuming, given the first paragraph, that “conservative Republicans” and “liberal Democrats” cancel each other out, what is the source of all this dissatisfaction? Well never mentioned are the independents. Obviously this number is being driven primarily by the dissatisfaction of independents who, as any political neophyte knows, are the key to elections.

And I’m sure there are a number of politicians out there who will misinterpret the part which says only “11 percent angry only at the Republicans and 9 percent angry only at the Democrats.” That’s not good news for either party – they don’t like any of you. See again “Tea Party”. Understand they are only the tip of the iceberg the good ship USS Congress is blithely approaching at full speed.

For the CNN poll, these are the highest dissatisfaction numbers since 1996 when they peaked at 70%.

This is another in a long line of polls which seems to be pointing to a very interesting midterm election season. It’s not going to be exclusively a “throw the Democrats out”. I think we’re going to see more of a “throw the incumbents” out. And I think the driving issue for most of the public – you know the teabagging, unwashed, clueless electorate – is fiscal sanity. They just aren’t seeing it, and they want it and they want it now.



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10 Responses to CNN Poll: 67% Unhappy With How Federal Government Works

  • 67%?  That number seems a little high…

  • We’re seeing major volatility in opinions. They seem to change rapidly based on what would previously have been comparitively minor points. For example, “It’s not Kennedy’s seat, it’s the people’s seat.” Scott Brown seemed to come out of nowhere.

    The only consistent theme is anger. Harnessing that anger while keeping a generally positive, Reaganesque demeanor (as Brown did pretty well) will be the key to success for both candidates and parties.

  • Is it a move against the “power elites” regardless of party?
    Crazy idea from left field…would it ever make sense for a party to have mandatory primary opponents, even in safe seats, just to keep everyone on their toes?


    teabagging, unwashed, clueless electorate

    I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here.  If the small-govt, low taxation people are called “teabaggers” than is is appropriate to refer to big-govt-loving, high tax big spenders as “pillow biters“?  It just seems to fit.

  • One thing that concerns me is a possible incoherence in the tea party movement. For example, those people who were primarly focused on saving their Medicare are not on the same page as those who want free market medical care.

    Many on the right are upset about RINOs, but part of the problem is that the independents who end up casting the decisive vote don’t want what conservatives offer.

    My personal opinion is that the path forward is through the Republican Party 99% of the time, at least in the forseable future. And sometimes, a RINO is the best you can do (Scott Brown). At other times, it would be good to kick the RINO out (McCain in his AZ Senate race). We need some measure of ideology, political realism, pragmatism.

    • I don’t know about 99%. If an establishment Republican does not fear that his base with withdraw support, then his motive for supporting limited government is much, much less. Establishment politicians are basically vote-optimizing machines, and if they can count on their base as much as you suggest, they will then bend their policies to attract squishy moderates.

      As you point out, that may be necessary and appropriate in Massachusetts. Or Michigan, New York, and a few others.

      But it’s very easy to rationalize “well, that’s the best we can do” and accept a McCain or a Graham or even a Lamar Alexander, when we could have done better. There’s a threshold of RINO and “moderate” presence that, once passed, ensures that the GOP will be Democrat lite. We’ve been over that threshold for a while; certainly we were in the Bush era. We’ve seen the results of that, which are more collectivism, more spending, more debt, and losing in the end anyway to a collectivist like Obama.

      So if we expect different results by supporting Republicans, one component must be to risk losing to get a large enough group of people in Congress who absolutely will not compromise about the direction we need to go. They may compromise about means, priorities, and such, but compromising about direction means they are not worth the trouble to elect. The debt-based collapse will still come, just a bit later than it might otherwise.

      Our biggest danger for the rest of this year is that establishment Republicans talk themselves into believing that some sort of compromise with Obama on healthcare is necessary or makes them look so good and “bipartisan” that it enhances their election chances. If they talk themselves into that, they will cheerfully shackle us to a government-run system forever for a bit of short-term politican advantage and to get the reporters at the Washington Post to say nice things about them for a few days. If you don’t believe that, just look at Bush the Elder’s insane repudiation of his own “read my lips” pledge. He thought he was doing the good and bipartisan thing, and got totally rolled by the Democrats. Since I can’t tell that establishment Republicans ever learn lessons short of losing their own seats, I do not for a moment believe the current crop is very resistant to such a scam.

      For the GOP to do limited-government advocates any good, we need leadership in the GOP that is so committed to smaller government that it would never even enter their minds to compromise with Obama in the direction of more government. Whatever risks are necessary to get enough limited-government partisans in the GOP to achieve that leadership is appropriate risk.

    • DonOne thing that concerns me is a possible incoherence in the tea party movement. For example, those people who were primarly focused on saving their Medicare are not on the same page as those who want free market medical care.

      I agree.  Right now, I think that the Tea Parties are reactive: people are scared to death of government-run health care and / or skyrocketting debt and / or high unemployment, and they want DC to… um… er… Stop spending so much.  Or something.

      While there are certainly small-government conservatives in the Tea Party movement, I suggest that most tea partiers like big government, just not too big.  The lack of a real organizing dogma in the Tea Party is probably why the GOP doesn’t embrace it too heartily: those people don’t know what they really want, are just temporarily (very) angry, and anyway pose almost as much of a threat to the GOP elite as they do to the democrats.

  • Speaking to the Democratic National Committee last Saturday, Barack Obama cast himself as a victim of the American people’s “frustration” rather than a cause of it. He suggested that his sagging poll numbers reflect an amorphous moodiness, not discontent with his policies.

    Just wait till that mood resembles that of Charles Manson.

    • I was thinking more along the lines of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Lee, Hancock, et al.  Although, if the pols in DC continue on, they may be looking more at Robespierre, Danton, Desmoullin, and Marat.