Reading the polls
A couple of interesting polls to note today. The first concerns labor union popularity. They aren’t. Popular that is. Or at least not at all as popular as they once were. Pew reports:
Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.
Those are the worst favorables for labor unions since 1985 (and lower than even that year). A majority of Democrats still have a favorable view of unions (56%) while Republicans (29%) and the all important independents (38%) don’t. My guess is the dramatic and highly visible political role played by unions in the 2008 presidential election (especially the SEIU which is also linked with the ever popular ACORN) as well as their role in trying to pack town halls to freeze out protesters this last summer have contributed to the unfavorable view labor unions now enjoy. And, of course, government handing over majority ownership to unions in the GM and Chrysler bailouts also had a hand in driving their favorables down as that was seen as a pretty blatant political payoff. This poll is another indication that Americans are indeed watching what has been going on, are aware of what has happened and don’t like it at all.
Speaking of government, or at least one branch of it, Rasmussen has its poll on Congressional approval out. Unsurprisingly Congress has achieved new record lows.
Voter unhappiness with Congress has reached the highest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports as 71% now say the legislature is doing a poor job.
That’s up ten points from the previous high of 61% reached a month ago.
10 points? In a month? That’s not a decline. That’s freefall. And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. But the message is found in some of the responses within the poll. For instance:
Nearly half of Democratic voters (48%) now give Congress a poor rating, up 17 points since January.
That 48% is probably upset that the Democratic Congress hasn’t delivered on it’s promised agenda. While that certainly adds to the overall unfavorable rating, it’s one that could flip in an instant should that agenda be muscled through (something that seems less and less likely now).
Seventy percent (70%) of voters say Congress has not passed any legislation that would significantly improve life for Americans, up 10 points over the past month and the highest level of dissatisfaction measured in regular tracking in over three years.
Again, part of that is probably that 48% Democrats not happy that the agenda is stalled. And that could include a portion of liberal leaning indies as well. But:
Forty percent (40%) of voters nationwide now say it is at least somewhat likely Congress will seriously address the most important issues facing the nation. That’s down from 59% last March. Only 9% say it is Very Likely Congress will address these issues.
Any guess what the “most important issues facing the nation” are?
Well it’s not health care:
As Congress continues to hash out the health care reform plan proposed by the president and Congressional Democrats, just 41% of voters favor the plan while 56% are opposed. Sixty-three percent (63%) of all voters say a better strategy to reform the health care system would be to pass smaller bills that address problems individually.
In fact, as Joe Biden has said, “it’s three letters. J.O.B.S.”. It is the economy and jobs. What is becoming increasingly clear is the administration and Congress have no idea how to get that done – well, except creating government jobs.
But before Congressional Democrats get all giddy thinking they can turn these numbers by pushing their agenda through come hell or high water, they need to again try to understand the present mood of the electorate – the mood they – the presently serving members of Congress on both sides – have helped create:
Other recent polling also reflects voter disappointment in Congress. Earlier this month, 63% of voters said it would be better for the country if most incumbents in Congress were defeated this November. Just 27% of voters say their representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job.
Three out of four voters (75%) report being at least somewhat angry at the policies of the federal government. Part of the frustration is likely due to the belief of 60% of voters that neither Republican political leaders nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today.
Still, voters believe Democrats are more likely than Republicans to have a plan for the future.
Regardless of which political side voters are on, just 21% believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.
Read all of that carefully – that’s the rest of the Tea Party iceberg uncovered for you. As I’ve been saying for a year, the economic and financial meltdown and the government’s reaction was more than enough to jar the population from it’s complacency. Politicians still haven’t figured that out even though protesters and polls have been loudly announcing it for months. Congress and government in general is considered to out-of-touch and out of control. The dissatisfaction is focused on the Democrats at the moment because they represent the government establishment now, but it is clearly a dissatisfaction that crosses party lines. And I’m not sure the GOP has figured it out anymore than have the Democrats.
And while the GOP leads in the generic poll, the perception of Congress and the politicians therein is not a pretty one:
Just 9% of voters believe most members of Congress are genuinely interested in helping people, which ties the recent low in December. Eighty-one percent (81%) say most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers, a new multi-year high.
The plurality of voters (42%) continues to believe most members of Congress are corrupt, a result that has remained fairly consistent over the past several months. One in three U.S. voters (32%) does not see most congressmen as corrupt. Another 26% are undecided.
It’s why I continue to think that the first Tuesday night in November will be “must see TV”. Will this dissatisfaction manifest itself in the voting booth? And if it does, what will be the outcome for the next Congress?
More importantly what if it doesn’t? Is there enough anger and discontent out there to drive people to the voting booth? And if it doesn’t, won’t we then get precisely what we deserve? And finally, if we get what we deserve, won’t politicians rightly surmise they can ignore the public for the most part since there’s really no penalty for doing so?