Free Markets, Free People
We’ve talked in the past about why these “wave” elections, as they’re called, are happening with increasing frequency.
Well one of the reasons, I would assert, is people are tiring of the same old promises – promises that are rarely if ever kept – with the same old results – business as usual with vituperative partisan sniping and finger pointing, while we spend ourselves into oblivion.
No matter who is put into power, nothing substantive happens. So voters keep switching the sides in hope that some group they put in there will “get it”.
So along come this poll, which is quite interesting. No matter how “popular” Obama is alleged to be, it seems the party he is associated with is now at their popularity nadir.
Today’s Gallup Poll, "GOP Favorability Matches 2008 Pre-Convention Level," shows the pre-convention favorability ratings of the two Parties going back as far as 1992. For the very first time, the favorable/unfavorable ratios are now higher for the Republican Party than for the Democratic Party. For the first time ever, the Democratic favorability ratio, which has always been within the range of 1.20 to 1.56, is now below 1. It is a stunningly low .83, which is 31% lower than the prior Democratic Party low of 1.20, which was reached in 2004.
The Democrats find themselves at John Kerry territory in terms of popularity. Gee I wonder why (*cough* ignore the voters and pass ObamaCare, unemployment at 8.2%, economy in the crapper, etc., *cough*)?
But before Republicans celebrate because they’re better than Democrats, they should realize they’re only marginally better.
By contrast, the Republican ratio is now .88, which compares with the 2008 ratio of .80, which was that Party’s lowest-ever ratio, reached at the end of the Bush Presidency. Prior to 2008, the ratio was 1.16 in 2004, 1.41 in 2000, 1.16 in 1996, and 1.36 in 1992.
Those figures compare with the Democratic ratios of 1.38 in 2008 (compared with the Republican .80), 1.20 in 2004 (vs. 1.16), 1.56 in 2000 (vs. 1.41), 1.50 in 1996 (vs. 1.16), and 1.42 in 1992 (vs. 1.36).
So? So right now, Republicans seem to be enjoying a slightly better level of “popularity” than are Democrats. But both should note that their relative popularity is near the bottom of their historic range.
What does that say?
It says to me that voters are truly considering the lesser of two evils. That their “popularity” is a function of there being no other choice but these two and there being little if any confidence in either doing what is necessary to turn this mess around. But, at the moment, they are inclined to give the Republicans a shot, simply because the Democrats have been so lousy.
Another “indicator” poll. Expect the media’s full court negative press to continue unabated. We now know more about Mitt Romney than we’ve ever known about the President of the United States (of course that’s partly because Romney has actually run things and done things prior to running and has an actual record to examine).
Meanwhile voters seem inclined toward the Republicans, but not such that anyone in the GOP should get arrogant or cocky by any means. This is all touch and go at the moment.
But here’s a key which is hard to ignore, speaking of Obama’s “popularity”:
The Democratic brand has thus suffered more (down 39%) under Obama than the Republican brand suffered under either of George W. Bush’s two terms (-16%, then -31%).
Democrats have reason to be worried.
We’ve talked about it in the past. Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts are best when voter enthusiasm is high. In a per dollar spent ratio, GOTV efforts are most efficient when voters are enthusiastic.
Democrats may have a problem this year according to Gallup:
In fact, Democratic voters are less enthusiastic than they were in 2004. GOP voters, on the other hand, are at the same level as 2004 and much more enthusiastic than in 2008.
That’s not to say overall voter enthusiasm is anything to brag about.
The point of the above chart is that voters recognize that the choices they face are not at all that pleasing. Obviously as in past races, voter enthusiasm will pick up in the next three months. But it seems clear that the politics of this election are not at all compelling to many voters at this point. The reasons are most likely varied. However, what is clear is the GOP base is much more motivated at this point, and by a wide margin, than the Democrat base.
No matter how you slice it or attempt to spin it, that’s not good news for Obama.
I put the results of a lot of polls up. I also skip a lot of them. I usually skip those that I think are transitory and really don’t mean anything in the long run, such as candidate popularity polls a year out from an election with no settled nominee on one side of the political spectrum. At this point, they change like the wind.
But I also think there are “indicator” polls that are important regardless of when they’re taken in relation to the next national election. Direction of the country is one (satisfaction). Voter enthusiasm is another (most energized). And where the independents fall is a third (they decide elections).
Here’s a fourth “indicator” poll (by Gallup) that should disturb the incumbent president’s campaign greatly:
Throughout 2011, an average of 17% of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is the second-lowest annual average in the more than 30-year history of the question, after the 15% from 2008. Satisfaction has averaged as high as 60% in 1986, 1998, and 2000.
Why is this important? Because politics is a game of perception and in the end, the only perception that matters is the one the voters have both in general and specifically about certain issues and candidates. But it is the general perception that colors voters views on both issues and candidates. And that’s why this poll indicates problems for the president. It is numbers like this that spell election loss to those who’ve been in charge for a term.
The obvious thing the Obama campaign is going to have to do is try to sell the idea that things could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the “savior”. That’s a very difficult job. Because people tend to judge the condition of the country based on their situation and circumstances (or that of family and friends).
Here’s the bottom line for the President’s campaign that no amount of spin will be able to change:
Americans continue to express low levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, rivaling the lowest Gallup has measured in the past 30+ years. That dissatisfaction probably reflects Americans’ economic anguish, and the prospects for considerable improvement in satisfaction are not great unless the economy improves significantly.
Likely or unlikely in the next 11 months?
If I had to guess, and watching the developments around the world, such as Europe as well as the US, I’d say “not very likely”.
This is important because it has become clear that the populist class warfare approach is how the Democrats intend to focus their national campaign. If what Obama is doing out on the campaign trail right now (and make no mistake about it, he is campaigning) is any indication, they’re going to talk about haves and have nots, try to place the majority in the have not camp and then demonize the haves.
It may not be the best of strategies if this Gallup poll is any indicator:
Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the "haves" and "have nots" than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008.
That last phrase is key. It points to one of the reasons Obama won in 2008. The campaign, while more subtle about it, was able to play off an America which had been convinced enough that such was the case, to provide a divided house – 49% to 49%. Advantage Obama campaign.
This time around? It doesn’t seem to be resonating this time, which may surprise some:
Americans’ views of their own position as "haves" or "have nots" have been remarkably stable, even as the nation’s economic problems have intensified. Still, the finding that fewer Americans now than in 2008 consider U.S. society as divided into "haves" and "have nots" suggests a decreasing — rather than increasing — level of worry about unfair income distribution in the U.S. at this time.
So what’s a populist politician who has committed himself to version 2.0 of the shtick that worked so well the last time to do? Again the good sense of the American people has emerged and the game has changed. Adaptation in politics is key to success. How does an Axlerod, who has obviously helped engineer this return to the old and familiar that served them so well previously view such a poll?
Is it an outlier. Hardly … it’s a poll this organization has been doing for years.
So does this mean the populist class warfare approach is going to backfire on them? That it simply won’t have the resonance it had in 2008? Or is it, more simply, an growing rejection of the Obama administration and what they’ve tried to sell as the “dirty little secret” of our country’s reality?
Even with the bad financial situation, record unemployment and a concerted propaganda effort to demonize the “rich” (not to mention the OWS nonsense), Americans, in growing numbers nonetheless, are rejecting the premise.
That’s got to worry someone in the Obama campaign, wouldn’t you think?
Not “big labor” or “big business” or “big oil” or “big pharma”. Not any of the other “bigs” as much as “big government”. And rightfully so in my opinion.
The question is, what are they going to do about it? No, the question is will they do anything about it?
I’m not sure.
Gallup found the fear of big government rising to its highest levels in decades:
Americans’ concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat.
Is America finally realizing the drag the government is putting on the economy with the level of debt it is carrying and the fact that the profligate spending continues? Is it waking up to the fact that government is way to involved in our daily lives? Is America realizing that government isn’t the answer and many times the problem (despite President Obama’s best effort to spin the opposite as true?)?
I can’t say, but I can say that this rise in fear of big government is a good thing and perfectly in line with what would or should typify the American character. The problem, however, is to be found in the specifics. We’ve detailed, in numerous posts, the rise of the entitlement culture that has grown up among us supposed “rugged individualists”. While the character trait seems to still exist as polls like this point out, are Americans really willing to see their piece of the entitlement pie – and most receive something – go away in any effort to trim the size of government?
That’s the real concern.
More from the survey:
Almost half of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to the nation, more than say so about big business, and far more than were concerned about big government in March 2009. The 32% of Democrats concerned about big government at that time — shortly after President Obama took office — was down significantly from a reading in 2006, when George W. Bush was president.
Democrats who fear big government are up by 16 points to 48%. This rise has been on Obama’s watch. And their fear of big business has dropped 8 points from 52% to 44%.
The real story, as usual, is independents. Their fear of big government has risen 5 points to 64%. How well, then, do you think the Obama campaign message of even bigger government (to save the middle class, of course) is playing?
Additionally, while Occupy Wall Street isn’t necessarily affiliated with a particular party, its anti-big business message may not be resonating with majorities in any party. Republicans, independents, and now close to half of Democrats are more concerned about the threat of big government than that coming from big business.
That should tell you what kind of impact OWS is having. As mentioned, Democratic fear of big business has dropped 8 points. If ever there was a sympathetic constituency, you’d think it would be the Democrats. And they simply aren’t buying into the OWS premise.
I keep finding polls like this both hopeful and disturbing. Hopeful in that it seems that the healthy American trait of fear big government still lives in the majority of its people. That’s demonstrated in another poll by Rasmussen addressing the health care law:
Most voters still want to repeal the national health care law, even though they tend to believe the law won’t force them to change their own health insurance coverage.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law passed by Congress in March 2010, while 35% at least somewhat oppose repeal. The intensity remains on the side of the law’s opponents since these findings include 42% who Strongly Favor repeal versus 26% who are Strongly Opposed.
What disturbs me is how little those who we put in power seem to understand that or attempt to work toward addressing that fear.
The question remains, if indeed the vast majority of Americans fear big government, what are they going to do about addressing that fear. Obviously what has been tried to this point hasn’t worked. What’s the alternative?
For years there’s been a concerted effort to get handguns banned in the US (not to mention the best efforts of the DoJ with “Fast and Furious” to aid that effort). And war of words has been fierce, the propaganda unrelenting and the hope eternal that the effort would succeed.
Well, it looks like the American people have looked at both sides of the argument and decided, at least for now, that those wishing to ban handguns have no case:
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
And there’s more:
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
Why? Because, I think, concealed carry laws haven’t brought the mayhem that the advocates claimed they would. In fact, quite the opposite. And its always nice for the bad guys who may be thinking about taking you on for whatever evil reason to have to guess. Deterrence is the best form of self-defense.
Secondly, it may sound trite, but people have accepted the cliché “guns don’t kill people, people do” as a truth. It isn’t the tool that’s the problem, it’s the person using the tool.
Finally, I also believe most Americans have finally realized that self-protection and self-defense are inherent responsibilities they must discharge and can’t outsource to government. The best tool for that, ye olde equalizer, is a hand gun responsibly used.
And then, of course there’s that pesky Constitutional amendment and all.
My guess is that the dream of gun confiscation is pretty much a dead issue for right now. Obviously that doesn’t mean it won’t again arise or, like health care, a certain party won’t simply ram something through Congress if they ever get the chance again. But according to this poll, American’s don’t support it now and most likely wouldn’t support it if that was tried.
That’s what the latest Gallup poll has concluded.
In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.
45% just won’t get you to the promised land. And with Democrats you have to believe the numbers may be a bit softer than that. It’s called whistling past the graveyard. There may also be a little of the “I don’t want to be thought of as a racist” effect at work here, meaning a portion will claim enthusiasm for the president for fear of being thought to have deserted him because of his race. And, of course, they’ll likely not show up at the polls.
Democrats’ muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans’ eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans’ average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008.
Democrats’ net enthusiasm (+1) now trails Republicans’ net enthusiasm (+28) by 27 percentage points. By contrast, Democrats held the advantage on net enthusiasm throughout 2008 — on several occasions, by better than 40-point margins. Democrats occasionally trailed Republicans in net enthusiasm in 2004, but never by as much as is seen today. The current balance of enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats is similar to what Gallup found in the first few months of 2000.
Look I know it is early and I know the GOP can always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but every poll out there on just about every aspect of the current electoral picture is exceedingly negative for Democrats and Barack Obama. And while plenty out there will attempt to wave all this bad news off, the bottom line is while each of these polls is a snapshot, when you put them all together they make an album of trends. Terms such as “lowest in history” have a meaning, and while all these polls won’t guarantee an outcome, they sure have been pretty good in pointing toward outcomes in the past.
And right now, they’re looking pretty darn bad for the prez and his party.
We’ve talked about this for quite some time, years in fact (hit the media category for previous discussions). And we’ve been told countless times by the media and media apologists that is just isn’t true, because, you know, they’re professionals.
But the the world of opinion, perception is reality. People’s opinions of an organization or institution are formed around their perceptions of that organization or institution. In the case of the media, it appears they have earned the reputation of a biased institution. Whether they agree that’s true or not is really incidental. Their “customers”, in the majority, believe it. And thus, to them, it’s true.
The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.
That’s an earned reputation, especially after the last election when the media refused to the vetting of Obama that is customary for a presidential candidate while going into full feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin. The difference was obvious even to the most disinterested of Americans. And there are numerous other examples. But primarily it was the obviousness of the political bias demonstrated by the media in that election which sealed the deal for many.
Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.
Interesting that those who see no bias but see it “just about right” are on the left. Look up the term “confirmation bias”. Notice there isn’t a category saying the media is “too conservative”?
What should the media as a whole take away from such a poll?
That they’ve lost the trust of the majority of America in their ability to report the news in a factual, complete and unbiased manner.
That’s a very difficult perception to reverse. Trust is not something given lightly by most people. And once violated, very difficult to win back. The media has become it’s own worst enemy. It refuses to acknowledge this perception of the public and thus makes no effort to self-correct. And because of that the perception is constantly revalidated and the erosion of the trust factor continues.
Without the ability to self-correct, the media will continue with its business as usual. And, as it has seen, on-line competition will continue to grow and prosper. I’m biased and you know it. You can filter that out. But I make no pretense or claim to the contrary.
Perhaps full disclosure by the media would be the way to change the trust factor. It certainly would be refreshing. But, as I note, they don’t believe it of themselves, so why would they change?
And its not just Gallup finding these things:
In a report released Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found record-high negativity toward the media on 9 of 12 core measures it tracks.
Hope they enjoy their earned reputation.
For the first time, says Gallup, a slight majority of Americans polled put the blame for the shape of the economy on President Obama:
Gallup found a substantially wider gap in public perceptions of how much responsibility Bush and Obama each bore for the economy when it first asked the question in July 2009, the sixth month of Obama’s presidency. That narrowed by March 2010, caused mainly by a jump in the percentage blaming Obama a great deal or moderate amount, and has since changed relatively little. However, the results from a new Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll are the first showing a majority of Americans, 53%, assigning significant blame to Obama. Forty-seven percent still say he is "not much" (27%) or "not at all" (20%) to blame.
Independents blame both presidents about equally: 60% blame Obama a great deal or a moderate amount, and 67% say this about Bush. In 2009, the figures were 37% and 81%, respectively.
Obama has been given ownership, whether he wants it or not.
Here’s the key problem for Barack Obama: George Bush isn’t running for president.
That according to Gallup:
The bump President Obama received after the killing of Osama bin Laden more than two weeks ago in Pakistan has vanished completely, according to the latest Gallup Tracking poll released Monday.
Obama’s approval rating is now at 46 percent, equal to his approval rating in the last tracking poll conducted before Obama addressed Americans late on May 1 and informed them of bin Laden’s death. Forty-four percent of Americans now disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president.
According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating crested at 52 percent after the bin Laden killing. His disapproval rating never fell lower than 40 percent.
Obama’s bounce is smaller in magnitude and shorter in duration than the bumps enjoyed by other presidents over the past 70 years, according to a study by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. For example, George W. Bush received a 15-point bump after the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003 — a bounce that lasted seven weeks.
“It’s the economy, stupid”:
The poll also comes the same day as Gallup announced that three in four Americans "name some type of economic issue as the ‘most important problem’ facing the country today — the highest net mentions of the economy in two years. Those numbers, combined with Obama’s fleeting boost, suggest the economy remains — by far — the dominant issue of the 2012 presidential campaign.
“Yea, we got Osama. But I still don’t have a job, the economy sucks, we’re in debt up to our ears and you’re trying to find more and more ways to take more and more money from me because of your profligacy. What are you going to do about that?”
I think that’s a fair statement of what the 2012 election will turn on. And I also believe Obama is beatable. But not with the current declared crop of candidates on the GOP side.