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.
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Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos is finishing up a book about Republicans he’s decided to entitle “American Taliban”. Yeah, no poisoning of the well there – it ought to be a real page-turner, no? One problem. He wasn’t sure what he’d written was based on anything factual. That may not come as a big surprise to most who’ve watched and read Kos over the years:
…I’m putting the finishing touches on my new book, American Taliban, which catalogues the ways in which modern-day conservatives share the same agenda as radical Jihadists in the Islamic world. But I found myself making certain claims about Republicans that I didn’t know if they could be backed up. So I thought, “why don’t we ask them directly?” And so, this massive poll, by non-partisan independent pollster Research 2000 of over 2,000 self-identified Republicans, was born.
The results are nothing short of startling.
Those startling results? Well, leave it to Steve Benen, even more clueless than Kos, to give us the “startling results” that “catalogues” (sic) “modern day conservatives” (notice the interchangability of words “conservative” and “republican”) as “shar[ing] the same agenda as radical Jihadists in the Islamic world” (notice too the rather loony premise of all “conservatives” and “republicans” being driven by radical religious beliefs).
The findings? Benen distills those most useful to the “Republicans are nutters” left (poll results here):
A plurality of rank-and-file Republicans wants to see President Obama impeached. More than a third of self-identified Republicans believe he wasn’t born in the United States. A 63% majority is convinced the president is a socialist, about a fourth believe he wants terrorists to be successful, and about a third think Obama is a racist who hates white people.
Now as I recall, the majority of the left not only wanted Bush impeached, they wanted him frog-marched before a court and tried as a “war criminal”. Most Democrats (I’m borrowing the broad brush that these two are using) believed Bush had been AWOL from his military duty and had stolen the 2000 election. A good plurality of Democrats thought (and still think) 9/11 was an inside job. And it goes without saying that a vast majority of them where convinced Bush was a tyrant, a “Nazi” and a significant number of them thought he’d declare a “national emergency” near the end of his 2nd term in order hold onto power.
And a majority of them wanted Bush to fail in Iraq and actively worked against that war – which to most people would handily translate into “they wanted the terrorists to be successful”. Racism, of course, has been a charge the left slings with impunity whenever it has nothing real to complain about. A third of Republicans think Obama’s a racist? Well if we want to play that game, I’m sure it wouldn’t be at all difficult to find a third of Democrats who think George Bush is a homophobe that hates gay people.
Does that make the Democratic party “crazy”?
Nearly a third of Republicans think contraceptive use should be outlawed.
And over two thirds don’t. But at least a third of Democrats think that abortion should be allowed in every possible situation without exception and enshrined in law too boot. So both sides want laws that the government really has no business making – what’s new?
More than three-quarters of Republicans want public schools to teach children that the book of Genesis “explains how God created the world.”
As opposed to a good majority of Democrats who already have their religion of environmentalism being taught in public schools and the have completely bought into the religious zealotry of man-made global warming even while the myth crumbles around them. Gaia is their god, Al Gore is their high priest and man is the sinner.
A third of Southern Republicans want to see their state secede from the union.
This is my favorite “startling” find (the result for “all” was 58% no/23% yes). Perfectly insignificant (a third of “Southern” Republicans), however the implied stereotype was just too useful to ignore (just as were all the others). Let me translate – “Southern” is a code word for “redneck racist religious zealots”. Thus the broad tarring of an entire region is accomplished and they can safely ignore a place they can never have electorally.
Of course, the secession claim is no different than the constant threats we heard from liberals that they’d leave the country if George Bush won the presidency. They didn’t, but I can’t imagine the usefulness of the Kos poll question that would have determined “one third of Hollywood liberals would leave the country if a Republican won the presidency” except to try cast the left in a poor light.
And that’s the point, of course. To demonize. Had Benen (and most of the left) not been so focused on trying to make the Republicans seem “crazy”, he could have said “significant majorities said they didn’t want to secede, thought openly gay men and women should be allowed to serve in the military, teach in schools and be allowed to marry and receive federal benefits. They believe sex education should be taught in schools and that marriages are equal partnerships. They don’t believe the “pill” is “abortion” but do believe that abortion is murder and they support the death penalty. They also overwhelmingly believe that women have the right to work outside the home and, as a group, are overwhelmingly Christian.”
But if Kos and Benen had said that, then they’d be hard pressed to use these results to claim Republicans are the “American Taliban” wouldn’t they? Because everyone knows that the Taliban are a bunch of gay and women’s rights supporting fellows, don’t they?
As I read the poll, it doesn’t at all support the contention clear in the title of Kos’s book. In fact, his title is hyperbole to the highest degree possible. I also find it interesting that he wrote the book based on stereotypes he’d developed and then wondered if what he wrote was true. Now, given this poll, he’s trying to try to make the results fit the premise. His problem, however, is they don’t fit at all, if, in fact, his intent is to prove the premise of the title (i.e. Republicans = Taliban). Square peg, round hole.
Result? Epic fail.
Given that, I’d say the book is a definite miss, nothing more than a poorly researched political pot boiler and most likely won’t be showing up on the reading list of many thinking people. Of course that means it will get glowing reviews from the likes of Benen and other lefty blogs. But then, that’s not unexpected at all, and we certainly don’t need a poll to know that will happen, do we?
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I think perhaps the promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – a supposed symbol of American shame – and the subsequent inability to do so is symbolic of how inept, to this point, this administration has been. President Obama, while a candidate, had a guaranteed applause line each time he promised to close the facility. The left had so thoroughly demonized it that it was prime red-meat for every campaign rally. And, in fact, Obama signed an executive order on his first day in office ordering it closed.
And here we are, a year later, with the facility still open and the administration still dithering about what to do with the inmates. In the meantime, the American public has come to realize that it is the inmates that are the problem, not where the inmates are incarcerated. Closing Gitmo doesn’t solve a thing. In fact, the public realizes, it forces some very unappetizing choices – like housing those we deem to dangerous to our country to release not in some isolated prison on a island far away, but in the heartland of America.
That realization has sparked some pretty heavy push-back from the public as it has come to realize those truths:
Americans remain opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and moving some of the terrorist suspects being held there to U.S. prisons: 30% favor such actions, while 64% do not. These attitudes could present a significant roadblock for President Obama at a time when he seeks congressional approval to move terrorist suspects from Guantanamo to a converted state prison in northwestern Illinois.
You see, hollering about how we had to close Gitmo during the campaign and then making it a priority on his first day of office then ran up against the “then what” question. And, as is obvious, they – the campaign and Obama- hadn’t considered the “then what” question. They had no plan. It is indicative of how poorly prepared they were to assume office (they apparently thought that the “King” would sign a “proclamation” and the “serfs” would make it so) and how little they understood of how things really work. Closing Guantanamo Bay has gone from being a symbol of “hope and change” to being an albatross around the administration’s neck. No matter what they do now, it is most likely to be unfavorably received by a majority of Americans and provide campaign fodder for a future Republican opponent.
Gitmo, in a nutshell, characterizes this administration in so many ways. Naive, unprepared, leaderless and yet arrogant. That is not a good combination for a successful presidency and unsurprisingly, so far, it hasn’t been one.
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An ABC News/Washington Post poll has some poll numbers which has to have the Obama White House concerned:
Fifty percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president’s work overall, down 6 points in the last month; nearly as many, 46 percent, now disapprove. On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. On the deficit, his worst score, 56 percent disapprove.
Such numbers aren’t unexpected; Ronald Reagan, in similar economic straits, dropped to 52 percent overall approval at this point in his presidency. But it’s not just the economy: Fifty-three percent also disapprove of Obama’s work on health care, and the public by 51-44 percent now opposes the reform package in Congress – both more than half for the first time in ABC/Post polls.
Despite the attempt to temper the plunge in approval by claiming that Ronald Regan had similar numbers in overall approval, this doesn’t feel like the Ronald Regan era. In fact, it feels more like Regan’s predecessor’s era of governance – leaderless. If Obama shows up on TV in a sweater telling us to turn down the thermostat, you’ll know precisely who I’m talking about.
But consider that in just a month in which he made his Afghanistan speech (which supposedly gave him a small bounce) and accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, he managed to lose 6 points in approval. The approval rating speaks to an overall feeling of satisfaction with his performance. And, as has been asked ad nauseum, he can give a pretty speech, but what has he really done?
Now this is a double edged sword. Frankly I don’t want him to do what he’s said he wants to do so technically I should be approving of his job performance. As long as he stays ineffective and impotent, I “approve”. Which means, some of his disapproval comes from those who want to push the aggressive “progressive” agenda they believe he’s behind and are disapproving of the fact that nothing has been done in almost a year of complete power in Congress and the White House.
The point, of course, is to note that his “disapproval” rating is just as soft as his “approval” rating and could change in a heartbeat. But this is an interesting snap shot that I think says more about his leadership, or lack thereof, than anything.
Economically, the numbers may be a little harder than the overall approval rating. You don’t have to be a PhD to know that economically things aren’t good and despite all the happy talk, really aren’t getting much better. So 52% disapproval isn’t unexpected. But, with the dip in his personal approval rating, it indicates that the public is beginning to hold him responsible for the condition of the economy. The drop in approval and the majority disapproval on the economy signal that Democrats and Obama no longer have George Bush as a convenient fall guy.
Another reason for that is found in the “deficit” number, where 56% disapprove. That number is strictly and obviously a product of Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. 787 billion “stimulus”. 1+ trillion omnibus spending bill. Raising the debt ceiling by 1.8 trillion. All Democrats, all the time.
His lack of leadership has also had an effect legislatively (although obviously the in-fighting among Democrats hasn’t helped their case either) where a majority oppose Obama’s overall health care effort and the specific health care legislation Democrats are trying desperately to push through Congress as we speak.
This could all change within a few weeks or months. But I just don’t see it happening. Some people know how to lead. Others know how to build coalitions. And others know how to charm their way into positions of power. Essentially Barack Obama is a charmer who recognized a once in a life time opportunity where the stars lined up for someone like him to grab for the brass ring of the presidency without having to have any other qualification than meeting the age requirement in the Constitution. He took it and he won. And that says something about both him and the celebrity worshiping public that elected him, which is a subject for another post.
As someone who has been in leadership positions all my life and has professionally assessed leaders for over 20 years, I can say without equivocation, that Barack Obama is not a leader. At best he’s a coalition builder and he’s been rather poor at that as well. However he’s a man who has always reached for the next rung in the ladder and obviously enjoys the trappings and perks of the offices he holds. But again, looking back on his life, what has he really done? What has he really ever accomplished? What has he led?
To some, I’m sure, these numbers come as a surprise. I’m not sure how. They are, to me, a portrait of the person those of us who kept noting his lack of experience and accomplishment painted before the election. I expect the numbers to go down even more. He’s not a leader and I don’t expect one to emerge while he’s in office. I certainly hope the nation wakes up and recognized that “hope and change” were really “hoax and change” and make the man a one-term president. We can’t afford him, in many ways, for 8 years.
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According to Rasumssen, when it come to the topic global warming a majority of Americans don’t believe that to be true:
Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.
While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
That, of course, is a direct refutation of a statement by presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs:
“I don’t think … [global warming] is quite, frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore.”
Additionally, the majority of Americans are skeptical of the efficacy of climate scientist’s data – and this is not a result of Climaquiddick:
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s Very Likely. Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data.
This skepticism does not appear to be the result of the recent disclosure of e-mails confirming such data falsification as part of the so-called “Climategate” scandal. Just 20% of Americans say they’ve followed news reports about those e-mails Very Closely, while another 29% have followed them Somewhat Closely.
It will be interesting to see what Climaquiddick does to those numbers, especially since the scandal seems to have spread to NASA here.
Rasmussen’s poll contradicts the myths of scientific consensus or “settled science”. Additionally, it points out that not only are the majority of Americans skeptical of the science, but given the recent scandal, that percentage is likely to grow.
Meanwhile, James Delingpole updates us on the latest and greatest concerning Climaquiddick.
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I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today. As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US. And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.
Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):
Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.
Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant. They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.
Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US. But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.
Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.
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It appears as the public becomes more aware of what Congress is planning with this health care monstrosity they’re calling reform, the more reason they find to like the present system.
Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35% in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor.
It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage. The latest polling shows that only 38% favor the health care legislation currently working its way through Congress.
It also shows a marked decrease in those favoring the legislation – not that such polling will stop the Democrats from continuing to ram something through. Even Howard Dean finds the current legislation troubling and declares it does nothing to control costs – one of the supposed central tenets of reform.
I’ve been saying for months that the Democrats are going to pass something called “health care reform”. They have too. Otherwise Obama’s domestic legislative agenda will be declared a failure and, ultimately, his presidency. Now I’m not so sure, given the fact that the legislation is under fire from all sides, that passage of “something” is necessarily assured. Meanwhile the latest atrocity in a government run health care system to ponder.
Time to turn up the heat and pressure to drop this awful mess. It is nothing more than a government power grab based in generational theft that does nothing to make health care better. To quote Nancy Reagan, it’s time to “just say no”.
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It was inevitable (the party in power always gets blamed – eventually), but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the fact that this perfect storm may crest precisely at the 2010 midterms (although you shouldn”t count out the possibility of Republicans completely blowing the opportunity):
Nearly two years into the recession, opinion about which political party is responsible for the severe economic downturn is shifting, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates that 38 percent of the public blames Republicans for the country’s current economic problems. That’s down 15 points from May, when 53 percent blamed the GOP. According to the poll 27 percent now blame the Democrats for the recession, up 6 points from May. Twenty-seven percent now say both parties are responsible for the economic mess.
“The bad news for the Democrats is that the number of Americans who hold the GOP exclusively responsible for the recession has been steadily falling by about two to three points per month,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “At that rate, only a handful of voters will blame the economy on the Republicans by the time next year’s midterm elections roll around.”
I’ll say it again – gridlock is good. It has a tendency to weed out all the extremist garbage and narrows the focus of legislation greatly. It also limits the power of the President, as it should be. So I’m quite pleased with this turn of events. And as you might imagine, the “current economic problems” is code language for “jobs”. No jobs, no peace, and a tough re-election campaign from Democrats next year.
Guess who the Congress is mad at?
It’s the economy, stupid.
As an aside, speaking of tough re-elections next year, John McCain is in a statistical dead heat with a GOP primary opponent next year.
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Gallup’s latest poll says it is:
President Hugo Chavez’s popularity among Venezuelans has waned in recent years. Less than half of Venezuelans (47%) in August 2009 said they approved of Chavez’ job performance — down from 61% in late 2006 when he was elected to a second six-year term.
That’s not a good sign for a
dictator “president for life”. And what’s even worse is his inability to do much about what is causing that decline but attempt to distract attention by stirring up an existential threat (Colombia).
The reasons for this decline in popularity aren’t hard to figure out. Again, Gallup:
This year, 30% of Venezuelans said economic conditions in their city or area are improving, down from 47% in 2008 and 63% in 2007. Electricity and water shortages have become frequent, and violent crime is rampant in much of the country. This year, 23% of Venezuelans said they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night, the second-lowest figure among the 67 countries in which Gallup asked the question.
Politicians, whether socialist or capitalist, are held responsible for their country’s ability to provide the basics in life – especially when in the past those basics were cheap and plentiful. And, politicians are also held responsible for providing basic security. In all areas the socialist “Bolivarian revolution” is failing. And, because of actions by Chavez over the years to nationalize many industries, Venezuelans who supported Chavez are now beginning to see his government as more of a threat to them:
Conversely, concern about the heavy hand Chavez has demonstrated in the recent wave of nationalizations may be growing. The proportion of Venezuelans who said people in the country can feel very confident their private property will be respected by the government has dropped to 40% this year, from 52% in 2007. And 44% of Venezuelans currently agree that life is very hard for those who oppose the government, up from 36% in 2008.
As Megan McArdle points out, Chavez was able to paper over much of this when the price of oil was high and revenue plentiful, but at the present price and faced with the fact that because he diverted money from the state run oil company PDVSA to fund social programs, his golden goose is on life support. And Chavez has been forced to impose some unpopular restrictions:
President Hugo Chávez has been facing a public outcry in recent weeks over power failures that, after six nationwide blackouts in the last two years, are cutting electricity for hours each day in rural areas and in industrial cities like Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Now, water rationing has been introduced here in the capital.
The deterioration of services is perplexing to many here, especially because the country had grown used to cheap, plentiful electricity and water in recent decades. But even as the oil boom was enriching his government and Mr. Chávez asserted greater control over utilities and other industries in this decade, public services seemed only to decay, adding to residents’ frustrations.
With oil revenues declining and the economy slowing, the shortages may have no quick fixes in sight. The government announced some emergency measures this week, including limits on imports of air-conditioning systems, rate increases for consumers of large amounts of power and the building of new gas-fired power plants, which would not be completed until the middle of the next decade.
Combine that with growing food shortages and rampant inflation and the picture is not pretty for our boy Hugo. And while his popularity remains slightly north of the critical 50% mark, his job approval rating of 46% portends a fall for that as well. Chavez, like all socialists, is finding out the hard way that they call them the laws of economics for a reason. You just wonder if we’ll learn something from his inevitable decline.
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Right now, if you believe the final Public Policy Polling surveys in New Jersey and New York’s 23rd Congressional district, it looks like wins for the right side of the ideological curve.
In NY-23, PPP has Hoffman at 51%, Owens at 34% and Scozzafava – the GOP’s favored nominee – at 11%. So the insurgent conservative candidate who the GOP is now quite happy to claim, is pulling a majority in the district. Head to head, PPP has Hoffman at 51% and Owens at 38%. The former GOP candidate has chosen to act as conservatives thought she would – she’s endorsed the candidate which most closely matches her politics – the Democrat. Joe Biden will be in the district today to try and push Owen’s numbers up.
“Polling the race was a little haphazard in a weekend with many twists and turns but Hoffman showed a similar lead at all junctures… The bottom line though is that Hoffman led by double digits during every segment of the poll, an indication that he may have been headed for a definitive victory regardless of Scozzafava’s actions over the course of the weekend.”
In the NJ governor’s race, PPP has Christie at 47%, Corzine at 41% and Daggett at 11%.
PPP points out that in NJ, the difference is independents going over to Christie’s side in a big way:
“Christie’s advantage is due largely to his support from independents and because he has Republicans more unified around him than the Democrats are around Corzine. Christie leads Corzine 52-29 with indies, as Daggett’s support with that group has declined to 16%. Christie is getting 82% of Republicans to Corzine’s 72% of Democrats.”
Of course this is NJ we’re talking about and 6% would seem to be a pretty significant lead, but there are factions at work which will most likely do whatever is necessary to overcome that. But the defection of independents to the Republican candidate has to worry Democrats.
And I’d guess that what is happening in the VA Governor’s race is much the same as what is being seen in NJ – McDonald leads Deeds mostly because of a more unified Republican base and the defection of Independents.
Should all 3 go to the Republicans, it will be very interesting to see the spin – from both sides. Democrats will most likely downplay the significance while privately being very concerned with 2010 right around the corner. And Republicans will most likely misread the results as some sort of mandate for them and their “big tent” compromising ways.
Suffice it to say these are 3 specials that I’ll actually be interested in following tomorrow, if for no other reason than to hear the establishment party types on both sides explain what happened.
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