Free Markets, Free People

Elections

It’s not just Obama

One of the things I’ve been saying for months is the Tea Party is not just a reaction to Obama and his agenda (although both he and his agenda have just continued to add to a decline in public trust and satisfaction in government). The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press published a chart that makes that point well:

The present slide, in both trust in government and satisfaction with the nation began in about 2003 – one would guess about the time of the invasion of Iraq. Note that at that time trust in government was at an all time high. But the erosion of that trust and satisfaction in the nation, began a pretty steep slide at that point. Note too that satisfaction with the nation (i.e. the nation headed in the right direction) took a brief turn upward with the election of Barack Obama but then swiftly turned south again. Presently both indicators at near all time lows.

Note as well that the last time the indicators were in the same area was 1994 when Democrats were power and after a precipitous decline from the Bush I administration that continued through the first two years of the Clinton administration.  Also consider that when the trust numbers again began to rise after ’94, the GOP was attempting to pass the Contract with America (aimed at some of the present Tea Party goals) and were ending “welfare as we know it”.

Some would argue that the political stars are aligning precisely as they did in ’94 which saw a resounding GOP victory. The situation, via the graph, certainly seems similar. But is it really? A couple of key paragraphs may disabuse one of that notion:

The public’s hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall. However, the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident that they have the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate. Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.

The Tea Party movement, which has a small but fervent anti-government constituency, could be a wild card in this election. On one hand, its sympathizers are highly energized and inclined to vote Republican this fall. On the other, many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the Tea Party represents their point of view better than does the GOP.

This indicates the dissatisfaction isn’t necessarily partisan. That is the dissatisfaction with the state of the nation and the decline in public trust haven’t been driven exclusively by Obama and his agenda. As you can see, both indicators were in rapid decline well before Obama was a glint on the political horizon. What has happened is a over the past 10 or so years, the political culture within the country has begun to shift. More and more awareness of the impact, intrusion and cost of government has reached a broader audience. Our technology and connectedness has indeed had a political impact. And the numbers you see on the chart are partially a result of that.

So while Obama is the man in the hot seat at the moment, he isn’t the only reason for this general feeling of distrust and dissatisfaction. This has been brewing for some time – years in fact. It just reached a critical point – a “turn out in the streets” point – when TARP, bailouts, takeovers and trillion dollar deficits came so fast and furious that it could no longer be ignored or glossed over. Government is out of control, the Tea Party is simply a manifestation of the general dissatisfaction with government. Neither party is immune from the voters ire this November because they recognize both got the nation in this position. The only advantage the GOP holds is they are marginally recognized as the fiscally conservative/small government party (why, after the Bush years, is anyone ‘s guess). That’s why they hold a lead in most Congressional polling. But I wouldn’t call it a solid lead at this point. The Pew study makes it clear that many out there see the TP as what the GOP isn’t – truly committed to fiscal conservacy and small government. In other words, a significant portion of potential GOP voters don’t trust the GOP anymore than they do the Democrats although the GOP should be the party of choice for them (if one is to believe the principles they espouse).

The point – if the GOP wants to take and hold the reigns of power at a national level, they had better not only talk the talk (something they’re very good at) but also, once given the opportunity, walk the walk (something they are very poor at doing and the reason -although they don’t seem to understand it – they continue to get bounced out of power).

Why?

Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama first took office.

Figure it out boys and girls – here’s the ticket. Accept it, internalize it, run on it and then do it. If they don’t then the cycle you see above in the chart will only repeat.

~McQ

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The New Jersey model

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about newly elected NJ governor Chis Christie.  The Republican, elected in a traditionally blue state, ran as if he’d be a one-termer and laid out the distasteful medicine necessary to put the state’s fiscal house in order.  To the surprise of many, he won.  He’s now engaged in doing what he said he’d do.

His assessment and conclusion are solid:

“We are, I think, the failed experiment in America—the best example of a failed experiment in America—on taxes and bigger government. Over the last eight years, New Jersey increased taxes and fees 115 times.”

And what has NJ gotten for that?

New Jersey’s residents now suffer under the nation’s highest tax burden. Yet the tax hikes haven’t come close to matching increases in spending. Mr. Christie recently introduced a $29.3 billion state budget to eliminate a projected $11 billion deficit for fiscal year 2011.

Obviously, as must be done in a state which has the nation’s highest tax burden, Christie has laid out a very aggressive plan that cuts spending to eliminate that deficit. And, as you might imagine, the entrenched interests which will see their budget’s cut are almost unanimous in their opposition. Most the opposition comes from government unions, and especially from New Jersey Education Association, the state’s teacher’s union.

And Christie is using a little of the left’s favorite tactics against them:

“I’m a product of public schools in New Jersey,” Mr. Christie explains, “and I have great admiration for people who commit their lives to teaching, but this isn’t about them. This is about a union president who makes $265,000 a year, and her executive director who makes $550,000 a year. This is about a union that has been used to getting its way every time. And they have intimidated governors for the last 30 years.”

Christie is obviously not going to be intimidated. And he’s got the numbers and, apparently, the public behind his effort to pare the educational establishment down to a manageable and affordable size:

While the state lost 121,000 jobs last year, education jobs in local school districts soared by more than 11,000. Over the past eight years, according to Mr. Christie, K-12 student enrollment has increased 3% while education jobs have risen by more than 16%. The governor believes cuts in aid to local schools in his budget could be entirely offset if existing teachers would forgo scheduled raises and agree to pay 1.5% of their medical insurance bill for one year, just as new state employees will be required to do every year. A new Rasmussen poll found that 65% of New Jersey voters agree with him about a one-year pay freeze for teachers.

The union, of course, has it’s own favored solution and I assume you can guess what it involves:

But the teachers union wants to close the budget gap by raising the income tax rate on individuals and small businesses making over $400,000 per year to 10.75% from its current 8.97%.

Obviously he has a lot of other fights within the state on his hands, such as cutting the onerous regulation regime the state has built, but he has a primary goal and desire to return the state to fiscal sanity. And he also knows that to do that he has to lower overall taxes – if he wants to again attract business and those who earn enough to provide a solid tax base.

The governor aims to move tax rates back to the glory days before 2004, when politicians lifted the top income tax rate to its current level of almost 9% from roughly 6%. Piled on top of the country’s highest property taxes, as well as sales and business income taxes, the increase brought the state to a tipping point where the affluent started to flee in droves. A Boston College study recently noted the outflow of wealthy people from the state in the period 2004-2008. The state has lately been in a vicious spiral of new taxes and fees to make up for the lost revenue, which in turn causes more high-income residents to leave, further reducing tax revenues.

So here’s a governor who understands that what has been heaped on the back of the taxpayers that are left is too much and is looking at other real ways of reducing the cost of government – i.e. actually seeking out where it has become bloated, putting some of the costs of the benefits government workers receive back on them, cutting unnecessary spending all with a goal of eliminating the deficit the state faces. And, by the way, planning on reducing the tax rate with an eye toward luring back the affluent and businesses with an eventual goal of actually increasing tax-revenues, and jobs, and all the other benefits such an influx would bring.

“What I hope it will do in the end is first and foremost fix New Jersey, and end this myth that you can’t take these people on,” he says. “I just hope it shows people who have similar ideas to mine that they can do it. You just have to stand up and grit your teeth and know your poll numbers are going to go down—and mine have—but you gotta grit it out because the alternative is unacceptable.” He also strongly believes that voters elected him specifically to fight this fight. “They’re fed up. They’ve had enough. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t win,” he says.

He’s probably right about that. He probably wouldn’t have won 3 or so years ago.  And he’s right that the voters, as his election demonstrates, are “fed up”.  But, once the cuts start to hit, nothing says Christie will be given the continued support necessary to accomplish his goals.  But he seems to be a man who is going to do all he can to accomplish them. I call it the New Jersey model because if successful, Gov. Christie will provide both the blueprint and the success story which small government/fiscally conservative types can point to when discussing what must -and can – be done at both a state and national level. I’ll be watching the NJ saga develop with great interest over the years, and wishing Gov. Christie the best of luck in attaining his goals.

~McQ

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Dem Pollster to Dems: “Adopt Tea Party platform or lose in November”

That’s essentially the message Democratic pollsters Pat Cauddell and Doug Schoen send the Democrats in their Washington Post piece today.  In fact that’s not “essentially the message”, it is the message.   They begin by pointing out that Congressional Democrats have been deaf, dumb and blind to what is important to the American people.  And, as they remind the Dems, it isn’t health care reform:

Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill — up from 54 percent two weeks earlier. Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means.

[…]

Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care.

Certainly no mincing of words there.   Cauddell and Schoen go on to point out the present position of Democrats is precarious at best:

Monday’s Gallup report showed the president’s weekly job approval rating at a low of 47 percent. And as the Democratic Party’s favorability has dropped to 41 percent — the lowest in Gallup’s 18-year history of measuring it — this week’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows the Republican Party with a nine-point lead in the generic congressional vote. Moreover, independents, who are more energized than Democrats, are leaning Republican by a 2-to-1 margin.

So there, in a nutshell, is the hole Democrats have managed to dig for themselves in one short year.  There are whispers going around of a 100 seat GOP turnover in the House being possible and Ron Paul – Ron Paul – is tied with Obama in another poll.  Interesting times but not particularly good ones for the donkophiles. 

The key to electoral salvation?  Well it isn’t what you might expect, but it makes sense:

To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate.

One small problem (and Cauddell and Schoen sort of acknowledge it) – the Democrats, to include many serving Congressional Representatives, have expended enormous time and energy in demonizing those who are in and identify with the Tea Parties.

Now certainly, what Cauddell and Schoen advise the Democrats to do isn’t unusual or bad advice.  Co-opting the ideas of others is how the two-party system has managed to maintain itself without a third party being able to establish itself.  But the Democrats have a very hard job ahead of them if they plan on suddenly playing nice-nice with the TP and adopting their agenda.  It will, at this point, be seen as political expediency deployed reluctantly to help Democrats hold of the GOP hordes taking over the House.

But the broader message Cauddell and Schoen put out there is absolutely true.  The way you win elections is to influence the “swing voters”, and to do that you have to tap into and support the issues that are important to them.  The way to defuse the TP is to adopt their agenda – and as Caudell and Schoen lay it out, they feel that’s something the Democrats can do if they’ll just back off resisting the TP and embrace the following:

The swing voters, who are key to the fate of the Democratic Party, care most about three things: reigniting the economy, reducing the deficit and creating jobs.

These voters are outraged by the seeming indifference of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, who they believe wasted a year on health-care reform. These voters will not tolerate more diversion from their pressing economic concerns. They view the Obama administration as working systematically to protect the interests of public-sector employees and organized labor — by offering specific benefits such as pension protection and tax reductions at the expense of all taxpayers.

Democrats must understand that voters will not accept seeing their tax dollars used to pay for higher wages and better benefits for public-sector employees when they themselves are getting higher taxes and lower wages.

So – economy, deficit and jobs and back off the unions now, unions forever perception (i.e. tell organized labor to keep a low profile).

Yeah – not going to happen.  The Dems have absolutely no idea of how to stimulate economic growth or create jobs – at least none that fits their ideology.  Tax cuts, a settled business environment that isn’t concerned about the impact of pending legislation, etc.  In other words, lower the cost of doing business as much as possible from the end government controls.  Instead we see money pumped into extending unemployment benefits and thereby worsening the second important concern of the TP – deficit.  Democrats are now focused on regulating Wall Street which does not settle the business environment and or stimulate job growth.

And, of course, Obama in the White House and a Democratic Congress in session equals unionized labor’s promised day.  And their priority is “card check” – another priority which doesn’t address the big three TP concerns (and three concerns I think it is safe to say most Americans would put at the top of their list).

Cauddell and Schoen conclude:

Winning over swing voters will require a bold, new focus from the president and his party. They must adopt an agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts, while implementing carefully crafted initiatives to stimulate and encourage job creation.

[…]

Democrats can avoid the electoral bloodbath we predicted before passage of the health-care bill, but in one way: through a bold commitment to fiscal discipline and targeted fiscal stimulus of the private sector and entrepreneurship.

It was at this point I began to laugh.  Not at Cauddell and Schoen – they’re right.  But at the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pushing fiscal discipline, tax cuts and stimulating the private sector and entrepreneurship (while deserting unions and public-sector employees) is so outlandish that it provoked my involuntary outburst of laughter.

If what Cauddell and Schoen say is correct (and I think it is), Democrats are screwed in November.

~McQ

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Tip of the iceberg

That’s the phrase I’ve been using for months to describe the Tea Party (TP) activists you see at protests.  They represent a small portion of those who actually identify themselves with the TP movement.   Rasmussen, today, releases a poll which confirms the assertion:

Twenty-four percent (24%) of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s an eight-point increase from 16% a month ago.

That is a significant chunk of voters. Note too the 8 point increase from a month ago? What was it that was passed into law a month ago? So there is proof that the passage of HCR didn’t at all cause the populist fire abate, but instead fueled it even more. Why is that? Rich Lowry gives as good a summation as anyone:

The tea-party movement is an act of pre-emption, based on the simple calculation that higher spending eventually means higher taxes. For all the tsk-tsking about its supposed irresponsibility, the movement is attuned to the future in a way that the president — who hopes to evade or hide the consequences of his budgetary choices for as long as possible — is not.

And the passage of HCR in the face of the TP outcry only added to the frustration the people are feeling. It also added to those who identifed themselves with the TP. Obviously, then the demonization of TP isn’t being terribly effective, is it?

Of course, as Lowry implies, the TP members figured out long ago what HCR really meant in terms of the size and scope of government and consequently what has to happen to pay for it. Lowry points out that the expiring Bush tax cuts will raise about $700 billion over 10 years – half the amount of the deficit for this year alone. So where will the rest come from? Obviously not from the rich.

Jennifer Rubin:

So we hear whispers now of a VAT. And the bipartisan commission will certainly suggest all sorts of “revenue enhancers.” The Tea Partiers saw this coming, and so will the general electorate. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the prospect of many more tax hikes will be up for debate in the midterm elections. And having violated their pledge not to tax those making less than $200,000 to pay for health care, Democrats are poorly situated to defend middle-class taxpayers.

There was talk for some time that the tax issue had faded. Republicans would have nothing to argue about, claimed the mainstream pundits. But alas, like so much else, Obama has done a yeoman’s work for conservatives. The tax issue is back. In a big way.

The 24% now identified with the TP (and, I’d guess another 5% who don’t formally identify themselves with the TP but do indeed share their beliefs) have known this was coming and are now being proven correct. The Democrats think HCR will fade from the public’s mind by the time the mid-term elections roll around in November. I don’t happen to share that belief (and this poll tells you why), but even if it did, look at the issue that won’t fade – the question that must continue to be asked by the TP and GOP is “how are we going to pay for all of this?” And use every means available to confront Democrats with that question and demand an answer. My guess is if they’ll do that, the TP numbers may swell to an even greater percentage by November and turn over the House.

But back to the title – Democrats reading the Rasmussen poll should understand one very important thing – each time you call the members of the TP things such as thugs, racists, homophobes, nazis, brownshirts and fascists, you’re addressing 25% of the voters. And yes, they will and have taken that personally. Great strategy – please, keep it up.

~McQ

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Ezra Klein discovers Democratic cynicism

You may recall my post yesterday when I pointed to the probability of some sort of action on immigration after the Easter break because the Hispanic vote isn’t very enthusiastic about Democrats right now and November is approaching?

Well, Ezra Klein has picked up on the vibe too:

I’d say it’s pretty unlikely that comprehensive immigration reform happens this year. But then, who cares what I think? Harry Reid is in charge of the Senate, and he says he’s got 56 votes, and it’s gonna happen. “We need a handful of Republicans,” he told an immigration rally in Las Vegas.

The cynical take, of course, is that Reid is running for reelection in a state that’s about 20 percent Hispanic. But that suggests an important change in the political reality: The cynical thing for Democrats to do in an election year might be to pursue immigration reform. And that would make immigration reform a much likelier addition to the agenda.

Now granted it doesn’t take the equivalent of a political rocket scientist to figure this out.  Congressional Democrats are wildly unpopular, November midterms threaten to wash them out of the Congress like you might wash all the pollen on your driveway down the sewer and they’re casting about anywhere for a way to re-energize their base.  And, if you look at the last election, Hispanics went for Obama with 67% of their vote.

Reid claims he has 56 votes.  He also says he needs “a handful of Republicans”.  Obviously Democratic Senators up for re-election in ’10 are going like the idea.  But needing that handful of Republicans means at the moment he probably hasn’t got any – well, maybe Lindsey Graham.

And note who Reid is talking too – certainly not Tea Parties, but instead “immigration rallies”.  The guy who draws 100 people to a campaign event in his hometown is out addressing immigration rallies – yeah, back to that “political rocket scientist” crack.

So it appears the argument I was making yesterday and Klein is making today, seems to have some legs.  I gave you part of the game plan yesterday as to why Democrats want to introduce it now and Klein repeats it.  But, speaking of cynical, he lays out some other reasons as well:

If Democrats actually pursue immigration reform, their [Hispanics -ed.] participation becomes likelier. And if Republicans — or tea partyers, or conservative talk radio — overreact to the prospect of immigration reform, their participation becomes virtually assured. That last bit also suggests another reason Democrats might want to see immigration on the agenda: It’s got the possibility to tear the Republican coalition apart. Beltway Republicans are very, very concerned about losing Latino voters, and so they try to be careful on the issue.

Or – the GOP base will be pushing one way and the assumed spineless Beltway Republicans will be tiptoeing another while the very outcry drives Hispanics to the polls.

I can’t refute or dispute Klein’s prediction at this point – we’ve seen similar things happen in the past.  But I do agree completely that it is a cynical plan – but then that’s politics isn’t it.  As many are fond of saying, “it ain’t bean bag” and, as is often the case – getting re-elected, by whatever means necessary (to include “let’s pretend we’re doing something on immigration and the GOP are the bad guys”) usually takes priority over any real concerns about what is good for the people of the country.

~McQ

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Things to think about on a beautiful Sunday

So, after jamming the health care reform legislation through Congress, Democrats begin to turn a wary eye toward November and the mid-term elections.

A good portion of them have deluded themselves into thinking Bill Clinton was right – that after they passed the legislation all the furor would subside and Americans would accept the new legislation – even embrace it.   The term “Judas goat” comes to mind.  And I think for those who bought into that nonsense, they realize they’ve certainly been led into the electoral slaughter pen. The Obama post law-signing sales tour has been anything but successful in changing the public’s perception of the law.  And it certainly hasn’t cooled the anger about its passage.

Some Democrats are giving up to “spend more time with their families” as has Bart Stupak.  They see the writing on the wall and don’t like what they’re reading.  Others are gearing up for a fight that many experts are sure they’ll lose.   Of course there are those on the left who’re sure the tide will turn.  James Carvelle recently said the GOP “peaked too soon”.  I don’t think so.

However, what are the Democrats going to do to reverse this trend that sees them losing big in November.  Well, the word was they were going to do energy next.   And that energy would contain a utility tax being called “cap-and trade lite”.  Frankly I don’t see them trying to introduce any new tax before November unless they’re just a lot less intelligent than they should be.

But they have to do something to take the public’s mind of HCR and do something positive for their chances in November.  I was thinking about that when this headline caught my attention – “Hispanic loyalty to Democrats wanes” with the sub – “Inaction on immigration reform has key voting bloc less enthused about election.” Ah ha! Why is this potentially the issue that will be most important to Dems prior to November – because of the nature of the election.

“The number of Latinos who say they are enthusiastic about midterm elections is the lowest we’ve ever seen,” said Barreto, whose firm polls extensively among Hispanics. In 2006, 77 percent of Hispanics were excited about voting. In a recent poll, however, just 49 percent were excited.

As Barreto noted, midterm elections usually feature lower turnout, which means victory hinges on energizing the party’s core supporters rather than persuading swing voters.

So Barreto is asserting that Hispanics are inclined to vote Democratic and unlike the 2006 mid-terms, have much less interest in voting in this mid-term because, well, see the headline.

Conclusion – look for a flurry of activity addressing “comprehensive immigration reform” in an attempt to energize the hispanic vote prior to November and, I’d guess, try to lure some independents back as well. Whether they get anything done or not is probably not as important right now, in the short time span involved, than appearing to make the effort. Whether that will be enough to save them remains to be seen.

But if it doesn’t – then what? What would a lame duck Democratic majority Congress attempt from November to January. My guess, and that’s all it is, with nothing to lose, they’d go for broke and try to ram as much of their agenda through as possible. And that means they’ll be working on a comprehensive energy bill, to include cap-and-tax, and possibly a VAT tax, and be prepared to introduce them the day following the mid-terms. Success might not be easy, but if Nancy Pelosi knows she’s losing her speakership and Harry Reid finds himself out of a job – anything is possible.

~McQ

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Biting the hand that feeds it?

It is getting to be fun now.  Tea Parties to the right of us, union parties to the left …

The SEIU (Service Employees International Union), often seen at Tea Party rallies trying to introduce a little violence, has decided that NC would be a good state to test out their promise to Blue Dogs that they’d go after them if they didn’t support the agenda the SEIU Democrats wanted.

Wow, Blue Dogs and Dem lap dogs going after each other. You have to like it.

The SEIU says it will do so via a third party – North Carolina First – which, of course, bypasses the whole primary gig.  That means those Blue Dogs they’ve targeted (Dem. Reps Heath Shuler, Mike McIntyre, and Larry Kissell) will face the SEIU candidates in the general elections in traditionally red districts, thereby reliably splitting whatever blue vote there might be and ensuring a GOP victory.

Of course, that’s if the Tea Party (TP) isn’t running a candidate of its own in the general election (although indications are TP candidates are more likely to challenge in the GOP primary vs. a general election).

The SEIU is teaming up with State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) to try and stand the party up and field candidates for the fall election.  Anyone who wants those  3 seats to go to the GOP is most likely wishing the SEIU and SEANC a lot of luck in doing just that.

Greg Sargent thinks this is a “a serious experiment in reshaping the landscape of Democratic politics, and it bears watching” implying could be a template for similar attempts in other states.  I sure hope so.  And if so, coupled with the TP, it would be an attempt on both sides of the political spectrum to move the primary party in that part of the spectrum more to the left or right respectively.  You have to wonder how independents would react to success in such attempts and then which way they’d tend to go to lend their support.

~McQ

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Today’s good news

One more time for those who continue to believe all these Tea Party demonstrations are founded on the right and favor the Republicans:

A majority disapprove of both political parties, their leaders and most members of Congress, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Attitudes are reminiscent of those in 1994 and 2006, when control of Congress switched from one party to the other.

The favorable rating for the Democratic Party has fallen to its lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1992 —its standing has dropped 14 percentage points since President Obama’s election — but the Republican Party fares no better. Three of four Americans say they are dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

It isn’t just anti-incumbent fever, it is anti-party fever.  How many times do I have to say that these Tea Parties are the tip of a very big iceberg and it doesn’t necessarily represent just the right-wing?  I’d certainly say that for the most part you’ll find very few from the left in there because their nominal party of choice is in power.  But these protests probably represent the big middle more than any I’ve seen in my life time.

I know I sound like a broken record when I continue to say that what happened late in ’08 and early ’09 with the financial crisis, TARP, the bailouts and the takeovers slapped a whole bunch of people awake.  I travel – a lot.  And I’m around everyday Americans constantly.  And I hear them talk among themselves.  Normally it’s about the vacation they’re on,  something personal in their lives, sports – whatever.  But rarely if ever is it about politics, government or the like.

Until now.  Now I hear it constantly.  I hear older couples traveling together, for instance, in a small town diner in Tennessee talking about how big government is going to ruin us.  I hear people in a BBQ joint in Alabama concerned about their financial future and saying government needs to get out of the way.  I hear a hotel worker in the lobby of a Hampton Inn – a hotel worker – complain that this country is going to the dogs. I don’t know their party affiliation, if any, but I do know they’re pissed.  I never hear that stuff usually, and trust me, I’m attuned to hearing it if it is being said.  Politics is the last thing most people talk about in public.  But there is a growing grassroots dislike for all that is the federal government and those that represent it.  I’m not talking about violence, certainly not at this stage, but definitely a desire to do something about it.  While the elite like to wave off the “I want my country back” crowd as ignorant rubes (or thugs, or angry white men, or nazis, or brownshirts or terrorists) who just don’t know what what’s good for them or what they’re talking about, that sentiment simmers not that far below the surface.   People are concerned and people are getting angrier.  I use the word “angrier” because they’ve been somewhat angry about this for some time.   They’re getting angrier because they no longer just perceive their being ignored, they flat know they’re being ignored.  And that really pisses them off.

Look at the cite above – 75% of the nation thinks we’re on the wrong track.  That accounts for most Democrats (the 25% not mentioned) and Republicans probably make up another 25 to 30%).  So that leaves 45 to 50% of the country unaffiliated and not at all happy with either party. And of course, remember, Democrats assumed that the election and ascension of Obama and their assumption of power was all that was necessary reverse that (because, you know, it was all about Bush). Well it didn’t, and in fact, it has gotten worse.  That says something about the “wrong direction” with which the people are dissatisfied.  The last administration and especially this administration have vastly expanded the size, scope and cost of government and racked up record deficits and debt.  As that has happened this number has gotten worse.  It’s not hard to figure out what they’re dissatisfied with, is it?

I think it could be safely assumed that at the moment their dissatisfaction is more likely to fall most heavily on the party in power, but if Republicans assume that means they’re in the driver’s seat, they’re simply wrong.  Right now, if you look at the “my Representative deserves to be reelected” those numbers are below 50% and over 10 points lower than in ’94 when the GOP rode to victory in midterms because of dissatisfaction with Democrats. No matter how many times the GOP tries to sell it, this isn’t “just like” ’94 and they better figure that out quickly.

The rubes aren’t as dumb and certainly not as uninvolved as the political elite would like to assume they are.   How the anger they now are feeling will work itself out remains to be seen.  But, despite the assurances of the ruling class that by November this anger will all go away, especially if the economy turns around, this anger is not likely to dissipate.  So we’ll see how it goes – whether it is an anti-incumbency midterm or a dump the Democrats midterm.  While I’m sure a bunch of Democrats are going to be dumped, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a good number of Republicans lose their job – especially if they start waffling on the repeal promise and their principles.  Their losses may put a Democrat in office, but it will be because another candidate took the Republican on and split the vote.  And, if it is because they again abandoned their principles, deservedly so.

The politicians like to talk about how corporate America needs to change its culture.  Well there is no establishment in this country more ripe for major cultural change than that in DC.  And what I hope to see in November is an aroused electorate slap the crap out of those complacent scalawags and start that cultural change rolling. A pipe dream – maybe. But it may actually be one of the last chances the people have of “taking their country back”.

~McQ

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GOP beginning to reject spine implant

Principles begin to yield to politics and Republicans begin to waffle and second guess themselves:

Top Republicans are increasingly worried that GOP candidates this fall might be burned by a fire that’s roaring through the conservative base: demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama’s new health care law.

It’s fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks.

Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California.

So the party that has unceasingly told us how bad this bill is (and rightfully so), cast no votes in its favor (rightfully so), make the case that it will add trillions to our deficit and our debt (rightfully so) and therefore should be repealed (rightfully so) are now getting cold feet.

Wow. What a freakin’ surprise. And they wonder why they can’t generate any sustainable grassroots excitement about their party. Politics ain’t bean bag, Republicans and it rewards those who take risks.  You either stand for something or you don’t.  7 months, the winning issue handed to them on a silver platter (it’s about the size, scope and cost of government you idiots) and these dopes begin to waffle. Amazing. Not surprising given their record and their seeming desire to be the permanent minority, but amazing that they can’t seem to figure it out none-the-less.

~McQ

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Independents and key demographics

As I mentioned on the podcast last night, I’ve quit looking at how Democrats or Republicans react to a particular poll. Their reactions are all too predictable. If the Dems are for something by 86%, the Reps will be against it by 90%. Nothing to learn there. Nope, I pretty much zero in on how the independents feel about a particular issue to try to figure out who has the most support. And as I’ve mentioned, more and more the independents seem to be siding with the GOP. That’s not good news for the Dems, no matter what Chuck Schumer thinks.

That brings us to another key to electoral success. Key demographics. We heard so much made of the “young vote” in 2008. They were a key because they actually turned out for once and voted mostly Democratic.  One of the most coveted demographics, however, is that of the elderly – over 65. That’s because they always vote.

So, with that given, let’s take this poll if FL as an example of what’s happening out there.  Yes, it’s a temperature check of the citizens of that state at this time. We all recognize it can change. With that disclaimer out of the way, the usefulness of this poll is found in the information about how independents view recent events.  It also contains info on the key elderly demographic.  For objective observers there are no real surprises.

Florida voters dislike the new healthcare law so much that President Barack Obama and the state’s top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are paying a hefty political price, according to a new survey and analysis by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.

The poll, conducted last week, is the first to be taken in Florida since Obama signed the healthcare reform bill into law.

If you’re wondering why the president continues to try to sell this thing and why Nancy Pelosi has told Democrats headed out on Easter recess to do the same, this Florida poll gives you a nice indicator. Independents as a whole oppose the bill almost 2 to 1 and elderly independents show the same level of opposition.  It certainly doesn’t appear that the president’s umpteen speeches or the assurances of Congress that this bill is wonderful have met with much success.  Apparently only the Dems bought into the Bill Clinton assurance that everyone would love them once they passed that law.

Why they think that’s going to change if they just push a little harder, especially with the corporate write-downs in the news, is beyond me (and why is Henry Waxman keeping those write-downs in the news with hearings?).

A couple of other results from the poll to mull:

It shows that Floridians have a more negative than positive view of Obama by a margin of 15 percentage points. And they oppose his so-called “cap-and-trade” global warming legislation as well as the new healthcare law.

Why are FL voters opposed to cap-and-trade?

Only 35 percent believe global warming is proved, while 57 percent say it isn’t an established fact. By a 34-50 percent spread, voters oppose the cap-and-trade legislation. And five times as many voters believe it will raise the cost of fuel.

And I have to say I believe the majority to be correct on all counts.

This has had an effect on the numbers for Democratic Senator Bill Nelson as well. His approval rating has dropped a significant 18 points. His only saving grace is he has until 2012 before he must again run. The bad news may be he’ll be on the same ballot as Obama. As for his sudden unpopularity, this was the reaction of his spokesperson:

“If there’s a dip in the polls, it’s due to this inaccurate and unfair bashing for sticking up for these seniors,” McLaughlin said.

Of course it is – and they’re too dumb to know it, aren’t they Mr. McLaughlin? It is that persistent little thread that I see throughout the Democratic reaction (the dumb rubes are being hornswoggled by the slick Republican pitchmen) to bad poll numbers that indicates they’re still deceiving themselves. The old “it’s not the message, it’s the delivery” fantasy that Dems continue to believe.

In the meantime, the polls continue to tell the same tale, over and over and over again.

~McQ

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