Free Markets, Free People
A bunch of interesting polls have emerged today. One finds Obama at his lowest job performance rating yet. Of course, as you might expect, Republicans mostly disapprove of his job performance. Democrats, on the other hand, generally approve. But what gets his job approval rating to 44% approval, 47% disapproval in this Marist poll are the independents. They’re very dissatisfied with his performance – only 29% approve while almost twice that number, 57% disapprove.
Remember it was the independents who put Obama over the top in 2008. Also remember it was they who put Scott Brown over the top in MA and were key in the elections in VA and NJ.
As for Obama’s personal popularity, that too has suffered.
And while GOPers strive to avoid attacking Obama personally, for fear of offending voters who see him in a favorable light personally, even that aura of invincibility is wearing off. Independent voters view Obama negatively, too, by a 39% favorable to 52% unfavorable margin. All registered voters still see Obama favorably by a 50%-44% margin, but that’s down 5 points in just 2 months.
However, there’s more to this than just Obama’s job approval and personal ratings. Also found in this poll is a strong trend toward anti-incumbency:
Meanwhile, members of Congress should brace for a difficult election year. 42% of registered voters said they would back their current member of Congress, while 44% said they would support someone else — a drop of 9 points in support of the incumbent in just 2 months.
Rassmussen has a poll out that begins to flesh out why that trend is building. Three-quarters of the public, according to his latest polling data, express some level of anger at the policies of the federal government. That’s up 4 points from November. It is also why I call the Tea Parties the “tip of the populist iceberg”. There are a whole lot of unhappy voters out there.
So how does it break down? Well, not as Jacob Weisberg and the “ignorant, childish voters who want to live in Candyland” crew would have you believe.
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. That finding is identical to the view last September, just after the tumultuous congressional town hall meetings the month before. But only 52% felt this way in November.
And, as time goes by, this trend continues to grow. Note that the leaders of both parties are identified as being clueless by this 60%.
So this week let’s revisit the comparison between the Political Class and the Mainstream (you proles in flyover land) voters. And as we saw last time we checked it out, the PC bunch is totally clueless:
The divide between the Political Class and Mainstream voters, however, is remarkable. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Mainstream voters are angry, but 84% of the Political Class are not. Those numbers include 57% of Mainstream voters who are Very Angry and 51% of the Political Class who are not angry at all.
But then 68% of Mainstream voters don’t think the leaders of either major political party have a good understanding of what the country needs today. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the Political Class disagree.
By comparison, the majority of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliateds don’t believe the current political leaders have a good handle on what is needed today.
Older voters and higher-income voters share that belief most strongly.
Thus the Tea Parties and the very negative reaction by the PC to them. They simply don’t get it. Which is why we’re suffering through this spate of leftist pundit tantrums in which they damn the people, democracy, and the opposition for being unwilling to roll over and submit to their sublime enlightenment, ability to know what is good for us and benevolent despotism. We’re seeing laments about how the good old day before the damned internet, talk radio and 24 hour cable let the enlightened elite do as they wish.
Look around you my friends – to this point that’s worked out just wonderfully hasn’t it?
Rasmussen lists a bunch of reaction which pretty much outline what you’re hearing from the most vocal of the Tea Partiers:
Most voters oppose the now-seemingly-derailed health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats for months. They continue to have very mixed feelings about the $787-billion economic stimulus plan approved by Congress last February.
Looking back, most voters still don’t approve of the multi-billion-dollar government bailouts of the financial industry and troubled automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
Forty-nine percent (49%) worry the government will try to do too much to help the economy, while 39% fear it won’t do enough.
As the economy continues to stumble along, 59% of voters believe cutting taxes is better than increasing government spending as a job-creation tool, but 72% expect the nation’s elected politicians to increase spending instead.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes.
Voters have consistently said for months that they have more confidence in their own economic judgment than that of either the president or Congress.
Charles Krauthammer calls this “The Great Peasant Revolt of 2010″. And in a very real sense it is. What Republicans haven’t yet grasped is this revolt is pretty non-partisan. The reason Republicans seem less threatened by it is because of their fiscally conservative, limited government philosophy. Democrats, on the other hand, suffer more because of their tendency toward fiscal profligacy and government expansion. The problem for Republicans, however, is the country is no longer in a mood to see them give fiscal conservatism and limited government lip service. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this Iowa poll:
A third of Iowans from across the political spectrum say they support the “tea party” movement, sounding a loud chorus of dissatisfaction with government, according to The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll.
Neither party has a lock on these restless advocates of limited government and fiscal control, according to the poll. However, their conservative leanings appear to give Republicans a greater opportunity than Democrats to make gains at the dawn of a volatile election year.
Is the GOP listening?
It should be clear to both sides that we’re moving into an era of “do what you say or be gone”. The days when incumbents only left office when they assumed room temperature, as did Jack Murtha today, are coming to an end. What the Tea Parties signal is a much more connected, networked and activist population which has been empowered by the communications technology of today – much to the chagrin of the elitists.
The fun is just beginning. Barack Obama and the Democrats may not realize it, but the era of big government is over.
UPDATE: Gallup also has polling numbers out today. They run different approval ratings for Obama on 9 different issues.
At 36%, Americans give President Barack Obama his lowest job approval rating yet on his handling of the economy. By contrast, the president’s 51% approval rating on handling foreign affairs is up slightly from last month.
As I’ve noted any number of times, the foreign policy’s crisis is yet to come. 2009 was a year of checking out the new president and assessing his strengths and weaknesses. 2010 will be the year that actually tests his foreign policy skills and abilities.
On domestic issues, Obama’s approval rating is in the tank at 36%.
Most interesting though was the fact that in the list of 9 issues, both foreign and domestic, independents did not once give Obama a majority approval rating, again making the point that indies are not at all happy with his administration.
Or so the saying goes – but in this case it may have a ring of truth to it.
Democrats have been quick to dismiss the Tea Parties which were held in hundreds of locations throughout the country as nothing more than a few disgruntled right-wingers who are sore losers. But instead, they may be the most visible part of a much larger movement that is saying “enough is enough”. And nothing may demonstrate that more than the upcoming special election in California.
Voters there are apparently tired of the legislature not doing its job, and see the 6 ballot measures as the legislature trying to pass the buck instead of doing their job. Consequently, we find a broad consensus that crosses party lines, in opposition to most of the ballot measures proposed. The one most likely to pass, interestingly, has to do with refusing legislators a raise if the state’s budget is in a deficit. In California that means whatever they’re making now is likely to be their pay from now on. Of course, I’d love to see the same sort of measure passed for the Congress of the United States.
To demonstrate the point of citizen bi-partisanship on this are a Republican and Democrat speaking about the upcoming vote:
Voter Barbara Dale, a Republican from Red Bluff, said she will be happy to vote in the special election because she is convinced that lawmakers can’t do their job themselves.
“I don’t like a lot of the things that they’re doing,” said Dale, who plans to vote “no” on Proposition 1A, which seeks to impose state spending restrictions but would trigger $16 billion in extended tax hikes.
“They’re just pushing things through,” Dale complained of lawmakers. “They’re spending too much money, they’re raising taxes, and they’re chasing businesses out of California.”
But Dale particularly wants to vote “yes” on Proposition 1F – the measure to deny elected officials pay raises when there is a state general fund deficit.
So does Democrat Vincent Anderson, an American River College student in Sacramento County.
“Why would we pay them more money when it seems that they’re never doing their job?” Anderson asked. “Their job is to run the state.”
Anderson, who opposes most of the budget reform measures, said he is offended the initiatives are even on the ballot.
“They’re just passing the buck,” he said. “California has been in debt for a while. Why is this (special election) so important now?”
In fact, a large majority of voters polled are not at all happy with the direction of their state’s government:
The poll found a greater proportion of Republicans opposed to the measures than Democrats. More than three-fifths of Republicans oppose the fund shifts proposed in Propositions 1D and 1E, even though both ideas originated with GOP members of the Legislature.
But healthy majorities of both parties – 72 percent overall – answered “yes” when pollsters asked if voting down the measures “would send a message to the governor and the state Legislature that voters are tired of more government spending and higher taxes.”
Now anyone that doesn’t understand that it isn’t just “state government” which has embarked on a program of “more government spending and higher taxes” isn’t paying attention. Thus the “Tea Parties”. If what is going on in California is typical of the developing mood around the country, and I think it is, then Democrats waive off the Tea Parties at their own electoral peril. Instead of Tea Parties being gatherings of a “few hundred” disgruntled “right-wingers” who are “sore losers”, they may just be the tip of a gigantic ice berg of discontent which will begin manifesting itself at the polls as it appears it will in California.
As an aside – that doesn’t mean the GOP is the winner in all of this. I think most of the Tea Parties demonstrated that the people who attended are just as fed up with Republicans as they are with Democrats.
What to make of this trend? I think Oklahoma got the 10th Amendment push-back ball rolling, Montana advanced the ball several yards, Texas got into the game recently (albeit, too glibly), several other states are getting their shots in, and now North Dakota takes it’s turn.
The resolution in the North Dakota legislature asking the federal government to begin recognizing the 10th amendment and to stop overreach into state matters, the one the Fargo Forum wrote off as being part of a “secessionist movement, has passed in the Senate. By a strictly party-line vote, unfortunately, meaning not one Democrat in the legislature had enough respect for the sovereignty of North Dakota to vote for it.
The resolution now goes to the House, where I expect it will also pass. Also, I’m guessing, by a strictly party-line vote. Which, if it happens, would be a small bright spot in an otherwise dim legislative session. It takes a certain level of conviction for politicians to vote for a resolution like this one. Would that the Republicans voting for it now had the courage of those convictions when faced with legislation that grows spending and government in the state.
At Say Anything, Rob Port has a copy of a state Senator Joe Miller‘s speech in support of the resolution from the Senate floor. I recommend you go there and read it.
Combined with some Governors rejecting portions of the stimulus funds, and the Tea Parties breaking out all over the country, I’d say it’s a good sign that people are finally telling Washington to take a hike. Personally, I would say that both Porkbusters and the Sunlight Foundation are owed some credit as well, but either way it’s about time that the federal government was reminded of its place. Granted, it’s a fairly small reminder, but maybe one that can be built upon.
So where does all of this lead anyway. Is there any hope that all of this momentum will lead to less federal government interference? How about some support for repealing the 17th Amendment? I’d like to think that it will end up reducing the size of government (i.e. electing fiscally conservative representatives who will cut taxes and greatly slash spending), but once that horse left the barn, the barn was burned to the ground and a giant spending dance was done on the smoldering ashes. Nevertheless, is there some small ray of hope that the states will rein in our profligate Congress?
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, Bryan, and Dale discuss the use of torture on terror suspects, and the week’s Tea Parties.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
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