Free Markets, Free People

Voters “for” GOP or “against” Democrats?

If Gallup is right about this poll, the GOP needs to understand much of the basis of its so-called” support, because it will be critical to their success in the next 2 years:

The Republicans’ lead in the congressional generic ballot over the past month may be due as much to voters’ rejecting the Democrats as embracing the Republicans. Among voters backing Republican candidates, 44% say their preference is "more a vote against the Democratic candidate," while 48% say it is "more a vote for the Republican candidate."

This is very important to understand, because, in my estimation, this is precisely the scenario that played out when Democrats took a majority in both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Then the vote wasn’t so much a validation of the Democrats and their agenda as it was a rejection of all things Republican.  The majority of the nation was sick of Republicans and their agenda as much as anything.

In politics the pendulum swings.  Democrats were given a chance because the populace was unimpressed with what the GOP had done with its chance.  And, given the way the two parties have essentially ensured no real competition from a third party can ever really upset their chances, the only viable choice was Democrats.

It is one reason you see these “purges” within the parties going on influenced by the more radical elements of their movement – such as the Kossaks and “progressives” on the left, and the Tea Party on the right. 

In both cases, each movement has taken what is available and attempted to shape it in its own image (and focused on its own agenda).  This is a natural polarization driven by dissatisfaction with the status quo on both sides, obviously. 

As we’ve seen in the last 20 months, the “progressive” agenda has failed spectacularly.  Not in the amount and type of legislation they’ve managed to pass – when you have majorities like they had, it’s no surprise at all.  But in how the public has received those laws.  That’s because the left misread the election of 2008 as a mandate given by an electorate that they thought had embraced their “progressive” agenda.  As the polls tell us now, that wasn’t at all the case.  The proof of that is the mass movement of independents away from the Democrats and the rise of the Tea Parties.

The GOP faces the same dilemma.  It is going to win in November, but what is it going to win?  A mandate?  For what?  Answering those questions is akin to stepping through a minefield blindfolded.  What are Americans looking for in the coming Republican legislative wave?

If Republicans don’t have answers to that question and don’t realize that they’re getting as much the “anti-Democrat” vote as the “we want Republicans” vote, they’re in for a short tenure as a majority in the House.

Let me lay out a few things that I don’t think the people want:

1.  They don’t want endless partisan “investigations”.  I’ve seen reports that claim that one of the GOP priorities in the House will be all manner of these.  There are certainly instances where certain things should and must be investigated – but such investigations should be limited and also obviously issues in need of investigation.

2.  They don’t want just “no” as an answer to everything.  Look, there are definitely principled stands that must be taken concerning fiscal matter where the appropriate and only answer is “no”.  But there are plenty of things which need a “yes”.  Standing up and saying “no” to everything the administration advances only hands the Democrats a tool to use against the GOP in 2012.  The GOP must advance some sort of legislative agenda that is clear, limited and founded within the principles the party espouses about cutting spending, limiting government and being fiscally conservative.  Anything that the administration advances that fits these principles should be embraced.

3.  They don’t want endless politics.  I.e. the political theater.  My goodness, some of these people get more camera time than many Hollywood stars.  They need to shut up, do their job, and effectively tell their story at the appropriate time and in effective and generally understandable way.  They don’t have to have an opinion about everything everyday.  The more time they spend in front of a camera the more time they have to say something foolish and have that become the story of the day vs. discussions of issues that are actually important.  Take a break – enforce a little self-discipline – and stick with topics in which you may have some actual expertise.

If I read what I’m hearing and seeing out there, there is a sense among the general population that government – not just Democrats – has been headed in the wrong direction for quite some time.  If you follow the trends of the “is the country on the right track” polling, you know it hasn’t changed significantly since Democrats have taken power from the Republicans.

The conventional wisdom was that once the Democrats swept into power, all would be fine and we’d be on the right track.  That CW was, of course, pundit and media driven.  However the majority of Americans blew that out of the water fairly quickly.  But that finding supports the polling Gallup has above.  Republicans are going to get another chance because they’re the only viable choice left after voters kick out the Democrats – not because the voters are significantly in love with or necessarily excited about the GOP.

So, fair warning to Republicans – don’t misinterpret this coming vote as did Democrats in 2008.  It’s no mandate, it’s a “lesser of two evils” vote – unfortunately a common vote in all elections anymore.  Understand that and understand that the GOP is a getting another 2 year trial to see if they’ve learned their lessons.  Voters are angry, fearful and unsatisfied with the direction of the country.  Much of that is wrapped up in the size, scope and cost of government.  They understand that if they ran their household as the government runs its business, they’d be bankrupt, homeless and in the street.  They’re looking for some common sense in DC, a dial-back of the size and scope of government and budgets that reflect sanity, reduce the deficit and help unshackle their grandchildren from the financial slavery this present bunch is selling them into.

Do that and Republicans may get an extension in 2012 to continue their work.

~McQ

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47 Responses to Voters “for” GOP or “against” Democrats?

  • As a general rule ..

    People may vote local, but it’s the national anxiety that gets them to the polls

    This year the anxiety is purely “anti-Democrat” most especially among non-Republicans.
    Many of those non-Republicans just can’t bring themselves to say  “anti-Democrat” to the pollsters, but, given there isn’t a real compelling agenda set forth by the Republicans, the only thing really going for Republicans is that they aren’t Democrats (and they didn’t vote like Democrats).  It’s hard to see it any other way.
    They say that the majority party seems to drink long and hardily form the “Flask of Hubris.”  These past 18 months or so, it seems the old flask was spiked with “political LSD.”  Frankly, I’ve never seen either party lose all touch with reality, the way it has during the current Congressional session.

    • Well, it was close during Clinton’s first two years, passing gun control laws and pushing Hillarycare.

      Or go back toCarter, or LBJ and the Great Society. Or FDR. The Democrats have been insane for awhile.

      • But not this.  Boldly going where no US politician had gone before … drinking the Kool-Aid with gusto.

  • And  the big question is, have the Republicans learned anything over the past six years or so?   If not there will be another big “anti” vote in two years.

    • A look at the White House today will reveal an Administration going Republican.  Well maybe only Republican Lite.
      The Leftosphere must be wondering if Barack Obama will switch parties next week.  But it’s all a ruse.
      Unfortunately, there still are 28 months left that we will have to bear the failed economic policies of Barack Obama.

      • Perhaps, but NOBODY will buy that bait-and-switch, as I point out in that post–

        Any turn in that direction from Obama would mean the Mad Mouse ride of his Obamanomics had just made another gut-lurching, incoherent veer.  Nobody with a brain would consider it genuine, because it would certainly not be genuine.  Everyone would see it was inconsistent with who Obama is, and what his policies have been and done, and everyone would know that…like most Obama promises or proffers…it has an expiration date.

        Bottom line; after you’ve screwed the pooch for approaching two years, offering it a bone isn’t going to bring it scampering back.  A business tax cut won’t bring the magic to unicorn economics…or save Deemocrats from the WAVE.

        • Obama could just admit that he overlooked the ideas of the Republicans at the beginning of his administration.
          —-You can laugh now

  • Very fair and true post.

    If the GOP retakes control but doesn’t really govern, then they’ll deserve the next walloping they get (either by the Dems or the Tea Parties)

    I have hope that the infusion of Tea Party new blood will change things.  But you know the saying about wish in one hand and sh*t in the other.  I take a wait and see approach.  I’d like to see them give serious thoughts to Paul Ryan’s “roadmap”.  Again, you can debate the merits of it but he’s one of the few guys who’s actually thought things out and came up with some sort of plan aside from managed decline and concessions.

    Christie ’16

    • Well the good news Shark, is there is no way the Tea Party mentality, a needed sea change in the course of the country, is going to find itself in Democratic waters.   One way or another, it’s against the liberal/progressive/leftist agenda.  How it sorts out over the long haul remains to be seen, but it appears to be a big enough movement.  It  manifested itself very quickly, something tells me it’s not going to fade away in the same fashion.

  • I kind of agree with your points, McQ.  Most especially the one about a POSITIVE POLICY SET.
    The GOP…or conservatives…CANNOT leave a vacuum.  It has to be filled with positive, effective ideas.  Those CAN be things that withdraw government intrusion, dissipate power, and restore choice.  Programs don’t have to be met with counter-programs.  POLICY is a different matter, and voters seem to have said that the POLICY of statism is NOT what they want.  The challenge now its to formulate a POLICY set that is consistent with the Constitution and supported by voters.

  • I have a gut feeling the next two years, beginning in January, are going to be even better political theater than the last two.  And it has absolutely nothing to do with the Republican ability to respond to the “things that I don’t think the people want.”

    It will have everything to do with Obama’s response to the challenge of governing “against the wind.”  For all of his golfing while in the role of POTUS, I do not think he has ever faced really windy conditions.  Trust me – it is a real bear to face a short par 4 when the wind is dead against you. 

    It is all but given that he will lose the House and all but lose the Senate.  And what he does not lose will never be the same ever again.  Blue dogs and the like will never trust him again.  He will never again have the huge majority in the House or the fillibuster-proof Senate of much of the last two years.  How does he respond to the challenge of governing a Bi-Partisn government?  He will face the same dilemma that Clinton took on in ’94.

    Clinton won that confrontation and ended up getting re-elected in ’96 – and rather handily at that.  During those two years he faced the Republicans down and even forced a government shut-down and still came out on top.  Face it – he snookered us all.  How will Obama react?  That is the real question for the next two years and I predict the following:

    1.  We will see at least one government shut-down.
    2.  Obama will play the “Party of No” crap to the fullest time and time again.
    3.  Obama and his administration will thumb their noses at the new powers of the House.  Watch for constant legal battles over House subpenas (sp) and out and out Contempt of Congress from Obama.
    4.  We have only seen the barest tip of the iceberg from Administration Thuggery to date – the real “Chicago Way” will show its true face.

    And these are only the barest tips of the problems I see in the future.  So, to get back to the topic at hand, I agree it is in the Republican’s court to win back the hearts and minds of the electorate and there are things they must do to accomplish this but, as my Grandfather once warned me, beware of the wounded animal’s ability to turn on you.

    • I think you are correct.
      IF that happens (which is really predictable), I expect the courts will also begin to weigh in against the regime.  Even the Lefties on the bench can’t put up with one branch running rough-shod…they know their will be a next GOP guy in office…because they don’t want to lay down that precedent, or have their name in history books behind that event.

      • Shoot, I been waiting for his temper tantrum for almost a year.    I figured it around Christmas last year and was completely wrong.

  • You make very good points as usual.

    My read of the American people is that they are desperate for someone, left,right,or center is not important, to put forth some ideas that they can understand and that make sense to them. The Republicans should take their case directly to the people. With the support of the people they can then force them to a vote and make the Democrats vote against them at their peril.

     two articles from yesterday’s American Thinker, Thomas Sovell’s Pessimism and The Graph of the Day speak to the urgency of action.

  • Maybe we learn from our friends (in this case Vaclav Havel:

    The government has embraced an arrogant ideology. They claim to know the key to prosperity. It’s analogous to communism. They thought the same thing. The clever ones – themselves – would run everything. That’s the analogy. The key to prosperity is to let things run themselves. We’ll liberalize everything, let everyone look after himself, let business, not the state, run the economy. The state should have no views, no policies of its own. Just open it all up, step back, let it go and you’ll see how well everything will work if we just leave things alone.

    I take exception only to his use of the term “policies”, which is think is mere semantics.

  • I ‘m  not running for office (and the Republican leadership won’t be asking for my opinion) but this would be a good start for their new contract with America:
    (A)  SECURE THE BORDERS!!!!!

    1)  Cut Spending

    2)  Extend the Bush tax cuts

    3)  Ban congressional earmarks

    4)  Fix the Way Congress Spends Our Money

    5)  Enact Spending Caps

    6)  Fix Medicare

    7)  Fix Medicaid

    8)  Fix Social Security

    9)  Eliminate Corporate Welfare

    10)  Freeze federal hiring Bring Federal Pay in Line with the Private Sector 

    11)  Permanently eliminate the death tax.   Kill it!!!

    12)  Citizens choosing to work past 65 years of age should be exempt from federal income tax

    13)  Shut down Freddie and Fannie

    14)  Eliminate subsidies to corporate farms

    15)  Something to help young people to go into farming & ranching (Nebraska has a program that works great)  Encourage family farms

    16)  SECURE THE BORDERS!!!!!

    • That would get the GOP un-elected. Besides, Obama will just veto.
      I don’t think the GOP has a chance unless the MSM is no longer able to sell “Party of No.” to the public.

    • Events !!
      The debt commission will be coming back with a report just after the election.  Today we see Democrats staking out positions on Social Security (probably based on Alan Simpson’s recent comments).

    • John:
      Before I read your list I made one of my own.
      Fundamentally Change America Back.

      1.  Get government out of the way and allow the economy to recover. 

      2.  Limit government spending to 20% of GDP. 

      3.  Control the borders, expel all illegal aliens and bar their return, ever!

      4.  Impose martial law where resident refuse to recognize US, state and local law.

      5.  Sell all unused federal land to the private sector.

      6.  Authorize energy companies to survey all domestic energy resources.

      7.  Re-justify every government regulatory agency.

      8.  Restore non-enumerated rights to the states.

      9.  Establish a national ID card as proof of US citizenship.

      10. Limit laws to 50 pages and post them online for seven days prior to vote.

  • I think it’s more than merely “anti-democrat”.  Bennett in Utah and Murkowski in Alaska should point to a wider dissatisfaction.  And if the republicans can’t pick up on that then I think their efforts to govern will be less than successful.
    The last time I contributed to a political party was 1994.  After that promising start and abysmal failure I sent what money I could afford to places like FIRE or Swiftboaters.

  • It comes down to mental models of reality.

    For all their talk about limited government and conservatism, the problem in government right now is that both sides carry the same basic mental model of government purpose. They both have the mental model that in a crisis, government must “do something” even if it’s not obvious what to do, what the outcome will likely be, or what it will all cost. They both see their own purpose in life as passing laws, and balancing the clamor of special interests during the process of crafting laws.

    A part of that mental model is that government programs can never, ever be permanently cut.  We see out of control spending and debt, and think the Republicans ought to spend fifteen hours a day sweating over ways to cut both of them, and cut government interference and regulation to free up the country to recover. But establishment Republicans have bought into the idea that cutting a government program, any program at all, will eventually cause some special interest group to target you and bring you down.

    Once a mental model of the nature of reality and the purpose of one’s life becomes sufficiently entrenched, it’s damn near impossible to change. That’s where we are with establishment Republicans. The see the unrest in the country and think of it as just a factor in the game of who gets control. Instead of sweating over the possibility that we might be headed towards a financial collapse the likes of which the world has never seen as the largest organized entity in human history goes bankrupt, they’re licking their chops over new committee appointments so they can bring home more goodies to their states and districts and aspire to hold onto power as long as Charlie Rangel.

    For most of them, I think they quite literally cannot imagine a complete meltdown which can’t be managed by people like them. So they dismiss it as an impossibility, and stick to mental models they’ve held their whole adult lifetime. Those flawed models about the effectiveness of government programs and process were forged by a leftist education system and media, during a period of historically unprecedented wealth generated by the freeest large society the world had ever seen. The models never really corresponded with the way reality works, but that was disguised in a rich, complex society.

    They won’t change. They can’t. They have to be replaced. Things are not bad enough to do that yet.

    Electing at least a few people who don’t carry the same mental model around is a start, though. Such people have the faint possibility of being the vanguard to lead us away from the edge of the cliff when its presence is so obvious to everyone that the DC insiders are pushed aside.

    That’s why I don’t agree with postings about supporting RINO candidates just to get a majority. A majority with leadership holding a flawed mental model is worse than useless. They’ll tinker around the edges never really attacking the problem, while undermining the only current brand that could be used as a rally point to go into reverse.

    Just as I was comfortable with Obama’s election, I’d rather see full-throated collectivists in control instead of limited government pretenders who babble about limited government but never really do anything constructive. Give the left enough rope, and they will destroy the collectivist brand, and their standard-bearer party, for a generation or more. We’ve seen that dynamic in action for 19 months. Yes, it will hurt (a lot) in the short run, but I see no other path to reversal.

    I can already hear those who viscerally hate Obama and his minions protesting that I’ve got it all wrong. But do I really? Look at the numbers right now. The Democrats and Republicans, in the public’s mind, share the responsibility for the failures of big government. This is a completely rational attitude, given, for example, Bush’s big government proclivities and the pablum coming from the current crop of GOP leaders.

    That leads to increasingly wilder swings between two parties, neither of which is anywhere close to attacking the root problem. Do you really want that pattern to go on until a collapse?

    • Awesome comment that should have been a post. I also believe in the mental model theory. I suspect to change the mental model, you need a life-threatening event. To return to small government it will require the bankruptcy of several state systems. Then, people will turn to a leader who promises something different.
      Ryan’s plan will never see the light of day because we can still borrow, fudge, and raise taxes to keep social security and medicare going. It would have a chance if the US could no longer borrow money. That’s when the lightbulbs will go off in the people’s heads. Hopefully when that happens, there is a political entrepreneur who is ready to step forward. Some of those may be the Tea Party leaning candidates who are being elected now. It may be someone like Jindal or Christie who could come out more forcefully than they could now.
      Also, I do say I sympathize with the GOP a little…its not easy to get a legislature full of lawyers to not do the investigations, the additional laws, etc. Scorpions and all.

      • Perhaps the best possibility would be for the GOP Congress to block the bail out of States. If California went down, that would be a clear signal to everyone: we cannot keep going on like we are.
        Its really hard to break those mental models, though, especially when we have not tried 70% taxes on the rich. Before that happens, that mental model can stubbornly cling to the “tax the rich” strategy.

    • The problem I have with this is that it suggests we need massive failure in order to turn this around. I’m not sure how well we will survive this failure. And who gets to give the “just walk away” speech after the fall?

      • I don’t want that to happen, I just have an instinct that it what it will take.

      • And who gets to give the “just walk away” speech after the fall?

        >>> Never mind that.  What a state like CA needs is the “It’s your own damn fault, now lets see if you learn your lesson” speech but nobody will ever give that.

        • For an example, see how Deng Xiao-Ping changed China…white cat or black cat…someone in the Democratic Party could easily say, “To keep our social benefits, we need to make sure that there is a stable and growing tax base, and to streamline governmentto make it viable ” argument for pro-growth, anti-bureaucracy, but pro-redistribution.
          This will happen and be the counter-point to small government if the Tea Party does well.
          I will christen it “small government with a human face.”

  • Where’s Erp…???
    The Collective continues to write crap like “American voters are spoiled brats“.  SaaaaaWWWWEEEEETTTT.
    The yutes are learning.
    Should we mount a suicide watch for ol’ Erp….????

  • McQThe GOP faces the same dilemma.  It is going to win in November, but what is it going to win?  A mandate?  For what?

    Essentially the same “mandate” that the dems had in ’06: STOP THIS CRAZY SOB!!!  Building on the Havel quote from Ragspierre above, people are pretty sick of Nanny Government and especially the frighteningly huge cost involved.  I don’t think that the majority of Americans are ready to embrace libertarianism, or even a return to pre-1970′s government, but they seem pretty sure that we’ve gone quite far enough.  If the GOP can put the brakes on The Dear Golfer, that will satisfy quite a few people, at least in the short term.

    McQThey don’t want endless partisan “investigations”.

    MiniTru will see to it that ANY investigation of The Dear Golfer and his thugs will be portrayed as “partisan”.  If I may suggest a refinement of your point, I’d say that people don’t want essentially insubstantive matters endlessly investigated.  This was the problem with Slick Willie vs. Ken Starr: it was hard for people to understand why so much time and money were being spent looking into a piddly land deal in Arkansas and the president lying about what he was doing with Monica.  Yes, the crimes – corruption, perjury, etc. – are serious, but Slick Willie, with the help of MiniTru, was able to trivialize them.  If the GOP goes after The Dear Golfer, it had better be on matters that (A) are very serious on their face and (B) are pretty easy to prove.

    SShiellWe have only seen the barest tip of the iceberg from Administration Thuggery to date – the real “Chicago Way” will show its true face.

    I agree… but that may be a double-edged sword for The Dear Golfer.  People are sick of his policies but aren’t QUITE sick of him.  If he shows himself fully as the petulant, vengeful, power-mad hoodlum that he is, there won’t be a dem in DC come January, 2013.

    • McQ’s “investigations” element was one area I had some reservations about.
      The GOP has a  history of NOT investigating enough, and not with enough vigor.  “Weak as tea” comes to mind.
      WHEN they do investigate, and I HOPE they will, they need to keep a focus on the elements you name…and they need to go hard and with unity.  Targeting the Obami…instead of Obama hisself…is a KEY element.

      • I agree with the “weak as tea” appraisal.
        All investigations should be of the administration actions (DOJ, the czar offices), not so much individuals (no impeachment stuff unless the Democrats want it to stop a weeping sore).

        • And, remember, INVESTIGATIONS do NOT need to be aimed at anything as lurching as impeaching anybody.
          Their real value is POLITICAL, not legal.  That’s a whole DIFFERENT matter, and one best left to the professionals…not pols.

    • The thesis that the people really do want a “Party of No” or maybe “Hell No” is very possible.
      I think they will be ultimately disappointed when saying NO MORE may not be enough to save the situation.
      I would also watch very carefully how some Democrats move to the fiscal conservative side after the election.

  • Novermber: Recovery Autumn Begins
    That should be a bumper-sticker.

  • This is a REALLY good sign…
    From Prof. Jacobson
    Now Stopa has released a position paper, The Massachusetts Model For Dismantling Obamacare (embedded below):

    It is widely believed … that entitlement programs are like a ratchet and can only increase in size rather than decrease. This conclusion is at odds with the experience of Massachusetts in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s during which the administration of Governor Michael Dukakis signed into law the nation’s first Universal Healthcare bill.

    This bill, with its onerous provisions that established universal coverage on the backs of the small business community, was vigorously opposed even after it was enacted into law by Massachusetts. The ensuing battle by a few dedicated State Legislators serves as a model in our current situation for a strategy and tactics to delay, defund and ultimately repeal Obamacare.

    Stopa is one of the few politicians actually thinking through, and going on record as to, the steps needed to unwind Obamacare.  In an age of sound bites and talking points, it is nice to have someone running for office who is willing to study an issue and take a stand.

  • Duh.  People generally vote against whoever is currently giving them the finger.  Happened in 2006 and 2008, and will happen this year.  The exception is me.   After voting in every election from 1968 to 2002, I’ve thrown in the towel and don’t vote at all.  What’s the point with the two parties we have?  Well, I may relent for this one election only, but I see nothing on the 2012 horizon that will get me to the polls.  Ridiculous partisanship, largely irrelevant wedge issues, no sense of fiscal responsibility for the future.  There’s a reason for the Tea Party, which to me arose from a rejection of the GOP.