Commentary Magazine


Topic: Scott Rasmussen

When Will Voters Stop Throwing the Bums Out?

Scott Rasmussen makes a convincing case that the “tidal shift” we will see at the polls tomorrow is the Democrats’ own darn fault:

While most voters now believe that cutting government spending is good for the economy, congressional Democrats have convinced them that they want to increase government spending. After the president proposed a $50 billion infrastructure plan in September, for example, Rasmussen Reports polling found that 61% of voters believed cutting spending would create more jobs than the president’s plan.

Central to the Democrats’ electoral woes was the debate on health-care reform. From the moment in May 2009 when the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president’s plan would cost a trillion dollars, most voters opposed it. Today 53% want to repeal it. Opposition was always more intense than support, and opposition was especially high among senior citizens, who vote in high numbers in midterm elections.

The Democrats ridiculed the Republicans as the “party of no,” insisting that the GOP’s own relative lack of popularity would be enough to keep the Democrats in power. That thinking was wrong in 1994. It was wrong coming from the GOP in 2006. And it’s just as wrong in 2010. The opposition party, when the majority party is messing up, need only be resolute in its opposition. And that — even their critics admit — the Republicans certainly have been for two years. Anticipating Tuesday’s tsunami, Rasmussen concludes:

This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties. More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Well, unless one of the parties decides to do just that. It’s not set in stone that both will continue to defy the voters. I am less optimistic that Obama will toss aside his statist agenda or become less antagonistic toward the private sector. There is, I think, a greater opportunity for the Republicans not only to oppose Obama but also to offer their own reformist agenda, which is in sync with the public’s desire for fiscal sobriety, smaller government, and personal responsibility (reestablishing the principle of “moral hazard” in the business context). GOP governors can opt out of ObamaCare’s individual mandate. Congress can pass an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Both Senate and House Republicans can work on real tax and education reform, take a David Cameron–like approach to slashing government spending, and get serious about domestic energy production.

You say that Obama won’t go along with most of this? Well, probably not. Still, the GOP shouldn’t, if it wants to end the cycle of “throw the bums out” elections, shirk from offering the public a taste of a conservative alternative to Obamaism. Senate Democrats may filibuster spending cuts or a repeal of ObamaCare, and Obama may veto these and other measures. But that will set the table for 2012 and provide voters with a clear choice. And it might just be that those Democrats who fear another tsunami in 2012 would join with Republicans on a number of measures — leaving the White House with few allies. After all that Obama did for (to?) them, I imagine some Democrats would be more than happy to return the “favor” and look out for their own political futures.

Scott Rasmussen makes a convincing case that the “tidal shift” we will see at the polls tomorrow is the Democrats’ own darn fault:

While most voters now believe that cutting government spending is good for the economy, congressional Democrats have convinced them that they want to increase government spending. After the president proposed a $50 billion infrastructure plan in September, for example, Rasmussen Reports polling found that 61% of voters believed cutting spending would create more jobs than the president’s plan.

Central to the Democrats’ electoral woes was the debate on health-care reform. From the moment in May 2009 when the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president’s plan would cost a trillion dollars, most voters opposed it. Today 53% want to repeal it. Opposition was always more intense than support, and opposition was especially high among senior citizens, who vote in high numbers in midterm elections.

The Democrats ridiculed the Republicans as the “party of no,” insisting that the GOP’s own relative lack of popularity would be enough to keep the Democrats in power. That thinking was wrong in 1994. It was wrong coming from the GOP in 2006. And it’s just as wrong in 2010. The opposition party, when the majority party is messing up, need only be resolute in its opposition. And that — even their critics admit — the Republicans certainly have been for two years. Anticipating Tuesday’s tsunami, Rasmussen concludes:

This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties. More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Well, unless one of the parties decides to do just that. It’s not set in stone that both will continue to defy the voters. I am less optimistic that Obama will toss aside his statist agenda or become less antagonistic toward the private sector. There is, I think, a greater opportunity for the Republicans not only to oppose Obama but also to offer their own reformist agenda, which is in sync with the public’s desire for fiscal sobriety, smaller government, and personal responsibility (reestablishing the principle of “moral hazard” in the business context). GOP governors can opt out of ObamaCare’s individual mandate. Congress can pass an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Both Senate and House Republicans can work on real tax and education reform, take a David Cameron–like approach to slashing government spending, and get serious about domestic energy production.

You say that Obama won’t go along with most of this? Well, probably not. Still, the GOP shouldn’t, if it wants to end the cycle of “throw the bums out” elections, shirk from offering the public a taste of a conservative alternative to Obamaism. Senate Democrats may filibuster spending cuts or a repeal of ObamaCare, and Obama may veto these and other measures. But that will set the table for 2012 and provide voters with a clear choice. And it might just be that those Democrats who fear another tsunami in 2012 would join with Republicans on a number of measures — leaving the White House with few allies. After all that Obama did for (to?) them, I imagine some Democrats would be more than happy to return the “favor” and look out for their own political futures.

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The New Political Division

Peter writes,

This Social Security gambit, which will fail politically (as has so much of what Obama and his aides have tried), is simply more evidence that the core premise of the Obama campaign — that he would transcend the usual divisions in American politics, that he would elevate our discourse and reach across the aisle in an unprecedented way, and that he would act reasonably and responsibly in facing America’s challenges — was a mirage. It was an effective optical illusion, but it was, in fact, an optical illusion. And every week, it seems, it is being revealed as such.

I certainly agree that the gambit will fail. And one of the main reasons Obama has and will fail “to transcend the usual divisions in American politics,” is, I think, that the usual divisions aren’t there this election cycle. They may never be there again.

John Fund had a fascinating article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about the pollster Scott Rasmussen. The White House was stunned by Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts last winter. Rasmussen, he writes, thinks a principal reason,

lies in a significant division among the American public that he has tracked for the past few years — a division between what he calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class. …

Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view . … “The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner writes that,

The current GOP fault line is not exactly conservatives vs. moderates or new guard vs. old guard. For 2010, the rivalry is the Tea Party wing against the K Street wing. To tell which kind of Republican a candidate is, see how the Democrats attack him: If  he’s branded a shill for Wall Street, he’s from the K Street wing. If he’s labeled an extremist outside the mainstream, he’s a Tea Partier.

More tellingly, study their campaign contributions. K Street Republicans’ coffers are filled by the political action committees of defense contractors, drug companies, lobbying firms, and Wall Street banks. A Tea Party Republican is funded by the Club for Growth or the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is run by the Republican leadership’s least-favorite colleague, Jim DeMint.

The K Street wing is business as usual, whereas the tea parties represent the new politics that has, for thirty years and more, been slouching towards Washington to be born. The election of Chris Christie, Scott Brown, and Bob McDonnell is a sign of the growing power of tea-party politics. The SEC suit against New Jersey is a sign that the old rules are changing, as is the spate of news stories about the power of public-employee unions and their excessive compensation that is bankrupting states.

Politicians, like generals, prefer to fight the last war. The politicians who have figured out that the election of 2010 is being fought along new lines will still have jobs after November 2nd. But the Democrats under Obama have a big problem. They are the party of the political elite and big government. They can’t remake themselves in two months. That’s why they are in such terrible trouble.

Peter writes,

This Social Security gambit, which will fail politically (as has so much of what Obama and his aides have tried), is simply more evidence that the core premise of the Obama campaign — that he would transcend the usual divisions in American politics, that he would elevate our discourse and reach across the aisle in an unprecedented way, and that he would act reasonably and responsibly in facing America’s challenges — was a mirage. It was an effective optical illusion, but it was, in fact, an optical illusion. And every week, it seems, it is being revealed as such.

I certainly agree that the gambit will fail. And one of the main reasons Obama has and will fail “to transcend the usual divisions in American politics,” is, I think, that the usual divisions aren’t there this election cycle. They may never be there again.

John Fund had a fascinating article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about the pollster Scott Rasmussen. The White House was stunned by Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts last winter. Rasmussen, he writes, thinks a principal reason,

lies in a significant division among the American public that he has tracked for the past few years — a division between what he calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class. …

Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view . … “The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner writes that,

The current GOP fault line is not exactly conservatives vs. moderates or new guard vs. old guard. For 2010, the rivalry is the Tea Party wing against the K Street wing. To tell which kind of Republican a candidate is, see how the Democrats attack him: If  he’s branded a shill for Wall Street, he’s from the K Street wing. If he’s labeled an extremist outside the mainstream, he’s a Tea Partier.

More tellingly, study their campaign contributions. K Street Republicans’ coffers are filled by the political action committees of defense contractors, drug companies, lobbying firms, and Wall Street banks. A Tea Party Republican is funded by the Club for Growth or the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is run by the Republican leadership’s least-favorite colleague, Jim DeMint.

The K Street wing is business as usual, whereas the tea parties represent the new politics that has, for thirty years and more, been slouching towards Washington to be born. The election of Chris Christie, Scott Brown, and Bob McDonnell is a sign of the growing power of tea-party politics. The SEC suit against New Jersey is a sign that the old rules are changing, as is the spate of news stories about the power of public-employee unions and their excessive compensation that is bankrupting states.

Politicians, like generals, prefer to fight the last war. The politicians who have figured out that the election of 2010 is being fought along new lines will still have jobs after November 2nd. But the Democrats under Obama have a big problem. They are the party of the political elite and big government. They can’t remake themselves in two months. That’s why they are in such terrible trouble.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

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Tuning Obama Out

Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen explain why ObamaCare seems to be stalling. Apparently, the president can’t “move the numbers” — that is, the anti-ObamaCare polling results:

One reason may be that he keeps talking about details of the proposal while voters are looking at the issue in a broader context. Polling conducted earlier this week shows that 57% of voters believe that passage of the legislation would hurt the economy, while only 25% believe it would help. That makes sense in a nation where most voters believe that increases in government spending are bad for the economy.

When the president responds that the plan is deficit neutral, he runs into a pair of basic problems. The first is that voters think reducing spending is more important than reducing the deficit. So a plan that is deficit neutral with a big spending hike is not going to be well received.

Moreover, the public doesn’t believe Obama’s spin that the plan is deficit neutral. (“People in Washington may live and die by the pronouncements of the Congressional Budget Office, but 81% of voters say it’s likely the plan will end up costing more than projected. Only 10% say the official numbers are likely to be on target.”) It seems that none of what Obama is saying is penetrating to the voters. But then again, they really don’t want him to be focusing on this at all.

The bottom line is this:

The reason President Obama can’t move the numbers and build public support is because the fundamentals are stacked against him. Most voters believe the current plan will harm the economy, cost more than projected, raise the cost of care, and lead to higher middle-class taxes.

Thus, in a sense, the president’s spinners are right when they say the president has a “communications” problem. In spite of — or is it because of ? — his incessant hammering at the same points, the public doesn’t buy what he’s selling. It sounds better to call it a communications problem, as if there were a technical problem with the microphones and satellite dishes at the White House. But it’s more properly thought of as a credibility problem. Obama says X; the public thinks X isn’t true. The numbers don’t move.

Here’s the acid test for whether it’s the communications or the message that’s faulty: come up with another approach. If Obama scrapped his plan, came up with a bare bones set of reforms, and tried selling that, we’d see whether the real issue here is the communications or the massive tax-and-spend plan being foisted on the public.

Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen explain why ObamaCare seems to be stalling. Apparently, the president can’t “move the numbers” — that is, the anti-ObamaCare polling results:

One reason may be that he keeps talking about details of the proposal while voters are looking at the issue in a broader context. Polling conducted earlier this week shows that 57% of voters believe that passage of the legislation would hurt the economy, while only 25% believe it would help. That makes sense in a nation where most voters believe that increases in government spending are bad for the economy.

When the president responds that the plan is deficit neutral, he runs into a pair of basic problems. The first is that voters think reducing spending is more important than reducing the deficit. So a plan that is deficit neutral with a big spending hike is not going to be well received.

Moreover, the public doesn’t believe Obama’s spin that the plan is deficit neutral. (“People in Washington may live and die by the pronouncements of the Congressional Budget Office, but 81% of voters say it’s likely the plan will end up costing more than projected. Only 10% say the official numbers are likely to be on target.”) It seems that none of what Obama is saying is penetrating to the voters. But then again, they really don’t want him to be focusing on this at all.

The bottom line is this:

The reason President Obama can’t move the numbers and build public support is because the fundamentals are stacked against him. Most voters believe the current plan will harm the economy, cost more than projected, raise the cost of care, and lead to higher middle-class taxes.

Thus, in a sense, the president’s spinners are right when they say the president has a “communications” problem. In spite of — or is it because of ? — his incessant hammering at the same points, the public doesn’t buy what he’s selling. It sounds better to call it a communications problem, as if there were a technical problem with the microphones and satellite dishes at the White House. But it’s more properly thought of as a credibility problem. Obama says X; the public thinks X isn’t true. The numbers don’t move.

Here’s the acid test for whether it’s the communications or the message that’s faulty: come up with another approach. If Obama scrapped his plan, came up with a bare bones set of reforms, and tried selling that, we’d see whether the real issue here is the communications or the massive tax-and-spend plan being foisted on the public.

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Rasmussen Sneak Peek

Scott Rasmussen has some election-night polling news of his own:

  • Among those who decided how they would vote in the past few days, Coakley has a slight edge, 47% to 41%.
  • Coakley also has a big advantage among those who made up their mind more than a month ago.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters for Brown said they were voting for him rather than against Coakley.
  • Sixty-six percent (66%) of Coakley voters said they were voting for her rather than against Brown.
  • 22% of Democrats voted for Brown. That is generally consistent with pre-election polling.

Twenty-two percent sounds like a lot, but this is, after all, Massachusetts. We’ll see how those independents voted and whether that mysterious “enthusiasm gap,” which has bedeviled Democrats, is enough to put Scott Brown over the top.

Scott Rasmussen has some election-night polling news of his own:

  • Among those who decided how they would vote in the past few days, Coakley has a slight edge, 47% to 41%.
  • Coakley also has a big advantage among those who made up their mind more than a month ago.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters for Brown said they were voting for him rather than against Coakley.
  • Sixty-six percent (66%) of Coakley voters said they were voting for her rather than against Brown.
  • 22% of Democrats voted for Brown. That is generally consistent with pre-election polling.

Twenty-two percent sounds like a lot, but this is, after all, Massachusetts. We’ll see how those independents voted and whether that mysterious “enthusiasm gap,” which has bedeviled Democrats, is enough to put Scott Brown over the top.

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The Perils of Ignoring Bad News

Two Democratic pollsters and consultants, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, take to the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to decry the attack by the Obami and their supporters on Fox News and pollsters including Gallup and Rasmussen. They call out the vendetta against Fox, Robert Gibbs’s shot at Gallup, and the avalanche of criticism by liberal spinners as “political intimidation”:

The attacks on Rasmussen and Gallup follow an effort by the White House to wage war on Fox News and to brand it, as former White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn did, as “not a real news organization.” The move backfired; in time, other news organizations rallied around Fox News. But the message was clear: criticize the White House at your peril. … Mr. Gibbs’s comments and the recent attempts by the Democratic left to muzzle Scott Rasmussen reflect a disturbing trend in our politics: a tendency to try to stifle legitimate feedback about political concerns—particularly if the feedback is negative to the incumbent administration.

It’s not only unseemly and revealing of a prickly, defensive, and arrogant administration; it has, I think, contributed to the constant state of shock in which the Obami constantly find themselves. Who knew Van Jones was a problem? How could anyone see a 20-point thumping coming in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a loss in very Blue New Jersey? How could the tea-party protesters catch on? How could Massachusetts be competitive? They always seem a step behind the news and the last to recognize their flagging political fortunes.

That arguably flows directly from indifference and hostility to bad news. If one considers only MSNBC and the New York Times, you can miss a lot of news and many a warning sign that the public isn’t with you. And conversely, the refusal to engage the opposition in meaningful ways (rather than simply deride critics as illegitimate if not downright “un-American,” as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi tagged the town-hall attendees) has left the policy battleground to the other side. Conservatives say ObamaCare cuts Medicare, unwisely raises taxes in a recession, and will lead to rationed care. The Obami say: Shut up. You can see why they may be losing the argument.

Caddell and Schoen deserve credit for raising the red flag. But as Democrats, they do so not for purely altruistic reasons. They know, even if the White House doesn’t, that putting your fingers in your ears and humming is no way to govern.

Two Democratic pollsters and consultants, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, take to the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to decry the attack by the Obami and their supporters on Fox News and pollsters including Gallup and Rasmussen. They call out the vendetta against Fox, Robert Gibbs’s shot at Gallup, and the avalanche of criticism by liberal spinners as “political intimidation”:

The attacks on Rasmussen and Gallup follow an effort by the White House to wage war on Fox News and to brand it, as former White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn did, as “not a real news organization.” The move backfired; in time, other news organizations rallied around Fox News. But the message was clear: criticize the White House at your peril. … Mr. Gibbs’s comments and the recent attempts by the Democratic left to muzzle Scott Rasmussen reflect a disturbing trend in our politics: a tendency to try to stifle legitimate feedback about political concerns—particularly if the feedback is negative to the incumbent administration.

It’s not only unseemly and revealing of a prickly, defensive, and arrogant administration; it has, I think, contributed to the constant state of shock in which the Obami constantly find themselves. Who knew Van Jones was a problem? How could anyone see a 20-point thumping coming in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a loss in very Blue New Jersey? How could the tea-party protesters catch on? How could Massachusetts be competitive? They always seem a step behind the news and the last to recognize their flagging political fortunes.

That arguably flows directly from indifference and hostility to bad news. If one considers only MSNBC and the New York Times, you can miss a lot of news and many a warning sign that the public isn’t with you. And conversely, the refusal to engage the opposition in meaningful ways (rather than simply deride critics as illegitimate if not downright “un-American,” as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi tagged the town-hall attendees) has left the policy battleground to the other side. Conservatives say ObamaCare cuts Medicare, unwisely raises taxes in a recession, and will lead to rationed care. The Obami say: Shut up. You can see why they may be losing the argument.

Caddell and Schoen deserve credit for raising the red flag. But as Democrats, they do so not for purely altruistic reasons. They know, even if the White House doesn’t, that putting your fingers in your ears and humming is no way to govern.

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ObamaCare Supporters Sink in the Polls

There is more unspinnable bad news for Obama, as Nate Silver would say:

A new Quinnipiac national survey shows the public evenly split on President Obama’s job approval rating. The 45% job approval is his lowest to date in the Quinnipiac poll, and his 45% disapproval rating is his highest.Overall, Obama’s job approval is now 47.6% in the RCP Average and his disapproval is at 45.8%. The public is equally split at 45/45 on the question of whether President Obama’s first year in office was “mainly” a success or a failure. Among the crucial group of registered Independents, 40% view Obama’s first year as a success while 47% view it as a failure.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that at least part of his problem has to do with the health-care bill he is pushing. In the same survey voters disapprove of his handling of health care by a 35-to-58 percent margin.

And speaking of bad news, more of those for Harry Reid: “Support among Nevada voters for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection has fallen even further following disclosure in a new book of remarks he made about Barack Obama during Election 2008.A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada finds Reid earning just 36% of the vote against his two top Republican challengers.” And again, Reid is not only the most visible tone-deaf politician, but also among the most visible allies of Obama’s on health care:

“Reid’s difficulties stem directly from the fact that he is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate,” according to Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “His responsibilities as leader of the Senate Democrats have placed him in a very visible position promoting an agenda that is viewed with some skepticism by Nevada voters.”

With only 39 percent of Nevada voters supporting ObamaCare (and 80-89 percent of those favoring one of Reid’s GOP opponents), it isn’t hard to see why Reid’s seat is now imperiled.

One would think that nervous House and Senate Democrats could figure this out. There is an uncanny correlation — maybe even a relationship of cause and effect! — between a candidate’s support for ObamaCare and his or her collapse in the polls. Really, why risk it? Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel will get very, very mad if ObamaCare stalls out, but it might be the only thing that could save dozens of House Democrats and a handful of Red State senators.

There is more unspinnable bad news for Obama, as Nate Silver would say:

A new Quinnipiac national survey shows the public evenly split on President Obama’s job approval rating. The 45% job approval is his lowest to date in the Quinnipiac poll, and his 45% disapproval rating is his highest.Overall, Obama’s job approval is now 47.6% in the RCP Average and his disapproval is at 45.8%. The public is equally split at 45/45 on the question of whether President Obama’s first year in office was “mainly” a success or a failure. Among the crucial group of registered Independents, 40% view Obama’s first year as a success while 47% view it as a failure.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that at least part of his problem has to do with the health-care bill he is pushing. In the same survey voters disapprove of his handling of health care by a 35-to-58 percent margin.

And speaking of bad news, more of those for Harry Reid: “Support among Nevada voters for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection has fallen even further following disclosure in a new book of remarks he made about Barack Obama during Election 2008.A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada finds Reid earning just 36% of the vote against his two top Republican challengers.” And again, Reid is not only the most visible tone-deaf politician, but also among the most visible allies of Obama’s on health care:

“Reid’s difficulties stem directly from the fact that he is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate,” according to Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “His responsibilities as leader of the Senate Democrats have placed him in a very visible position promoting an agenda that is viewed with some skepticism by Nevada voters.”

With only 39 percent of Nevada voters supporting ObamaCare (and 80-89 percent of those favoring one of Reid’s GOP opponents), it isn’t hard to see why Reid’s seat is now imperiled.

One would think that nervous House and Senate Democrats could figure this out. There is an uncanny correlation — maybe even a relationship of cause and effect! — between a candidate’s support for ObamaCare and his or her collapse in the polls. Really, why risk it? Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel will get very, very mad if ObamaCare stalls out, but it might be the only thing that could save dozens of House Democrats and a handful of Red State senators.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Stuart Rothenberg moves the Nevada Senate race to “lean takeover.” (No wonder Republicans have stopped calling for Harry Reid to step down. Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Reid to go anywhere.) As for Massachusetts, he says: “We continue to believe that [Martha] Coakley will win, though her margin could be so narrow as to cause more jitters on the Democratic side.”

John Fund sure thinks Harry Reid is toast: “In the end, I don’t believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will run for re-election. Whether or not the health care bill he muscled through the Senate becomes law, the 70-year-old will bow out of his race for a fifth term. The major reason has nothing to do with his many verbal gaffes, the latest of which exploded over the weekend. The simple fact is that he probably can’t win re-election — almost no incumbent senator as far down in the polls has come back to win. Asked if Mr. Reid is finished, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said yesterday, ‘I think so. I do — absolutely.'”

Scott Rasmussen has the race in Massachusetts down to a 2-point margin. Here’s the kicker (and another sign of momentum for Scott Brown): “All polling indicates that a lower turnout is better for the Republican. The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Brown is ahead by two percentage points among those who are absolutely certain they will vote. A week ago, he trailed by two among those certain to vote.”

David Gergen, who moderated the Massachusetts Senate debate, tips his hat to Scott Brown for his sharp retort: “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

You can understand why they’re jittery: “It’s hard for some Democrats to believe that the candidate running to replace Ted Kennedy is being attacked over health care reform — in one of the bluest states in the union, no less. But Republican Scott Brown has got Democrats nervous — not just for his opponent Martha Coakley but about the fact that a loss in Massachusetts would be a body blow to Democratic reform efforts in Washington.”

They should be, considering the Democrat’s campaign, says James Taranto: “Coakley and her Washington insiders are running a campaign that can only be described as incredibly stupid.” Between the negativity, the insistence on carting around the independent candidate to debates, and misspelling the state’s name in an ad, it’s hard to quibble with that conclusion. Plus: “All the talk about enacting ObamaCare as some sort of twisted tribute to Ted Kennedy is beginning to seem a bit reminiscent of the freakish Paul Wellstone funeral service in 2002–a spectacle that cost the Democrats a Senate seat they weren’t supposed to lose.”

John McCormack is apparently the designated punching bag for failing candidates. First, Dede Scozzafava’s husband calls the cops on him, and now Coakley’s flunky shoves him into a railing. Charlie Crist’s people better be on the lookout!

Michael Gerson: “Obama’s rhetorical challenge runs deeper than the recession. In the most unexpected development of his presidency, what was once universally recognized as Obama’s greatest political strength — his oratory — now seems a serious weakness. … People want their president to be both the father and the mother of his country — a talent shared by politicians as diverse as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (whose speeches I once helped write). Obama’s model, instead, is the coolness of Coolidge. It is old-fashioned. It may even be admirable. It is hard to call it effective. With every speech, a realization grows: A president lacking in drama may also be lacking in inspiration.”

On the way out, finally some honesty from Jon Corzine, who “acknowledged his inability to solve the state’s mounting fiscal problems.”

Stuart Rothenberg moves the Nevada Senate race to “lean takeover.” (No wonder Republicans have stopped calling for Harry Reid to step down. Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Reid to go anywhere.) As for Massachusetts, he says: “We continue to believe that [Martha] Coakley will win, though her margin could be so narrow as to cause more jitters on the Democratic side.”

John Fund sure thinks Harry Reid is toast: “In the end, I don’t believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will run for re-election. Whether or not the health care bill he muscled through the Senate becomes law, the 70-year-old will bow out of his race for a fifth term. The major reason has nothing to do with his many verbal gaffes, the latest of which exploded over the weekend. The simple fact is that he probably can’t win re-election — almost no incumbent senator as far down in the polls has come back to win. Asked if Mr. Reid is finished, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said yesterday, ‘I think so. I do — absolutely.'”

Scott Rasmussen has the race in Massachusetts down to a 2-point margin. Here’s the kicker (and another sign of momentum for Scott Brown): “All polling indicates that a lower turnout is better for the Republican. The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Brown is ahead by two percentage points among those who are absolutely certain they will vote. A week ago, he trailed by two among those certain to vote.”

David Gergen, who moderated the Massachusetts Senate debate, tips his hat to Scott Brown for his sharp retort: “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

You can understand why they’re jittery: “It’s hard for some Democrats to believe that the candidate running to replace Ted Kennedy is being attacked over health care reform — in one of the bluest states in the union, no less. But Republican Scott Brown has got Democrats nervous — not just for his opponent Martha Coakley but about the fact that a loss in Massachusetts would be a body blow to Democratic reform efforts in Washington.”

They should be, considering the Democrat’s campaign, says James Taranto: “Coakley and her Washington insiders are running a campaign that can only be described as incredibly stupid.” Between the negativity, the insistence on carting around the independent candidate to debates, and misspelling the state’s name in an ad, it’s hard to quibble with that conclusion. Plus: “All the talk about enacting ObamaCare as some sort of twisted tribute to Ted Kennedy is beginning to seem a bit reminiscent of the freakish Paul Wellstone funeral service in 2002–a spectacle that cost the Democrats a Senate seat they weren’t supposed to lose.”

John McCormack is apparently the designated punching bag for failing candidates. First, Dede Scozzafava’s husband calls the cops on him, and now Coakley’s flunky shoves him into a railing. Charlie Crist’s people better be on the lookout!

Michael Gerson: “Obama’s rhetorical challenge runs deeper than the recession. In the most unexpected development of his presidency, what was once universally recognized as Obama’s greatest political strength — his oratory — now seems a serious weakness. … People want their president to be both the father and the mother of his country — a talent shared by politicians as diverse as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (whose speeches I once helped write). Obama’s model, instead, is the coolness of Coolidge. It is old-fashioned. It may even be admirable. It is hard to call it effective. With every speech, a realization grows: A president lacking in drama may also be lacking in inspiration.”

On the way out, finally some honesty from Jon Corzine, who “acknowledged his inability to solve the state’s mounting fiscal problems.”

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Re: Could Massachusetts Save Us from ObamaCare?

John, a potential victory by Republican Scott Brown in the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat — which would be “10” on the political Richter scale — is now more than simply a pipe dream by conservatives looking to upset ObamaCare and deliver a megadose of political medicine to the cocooned Beltway set. The race seems to be fairly close. Scott Rasmussen, following a private poll with a margin of 11 points for State Attorney General Martha Coakley, shows that the race is now down to nine points. Here is the kicker:

Special elections are typically decided by who shows up to vote and it is clear from the data that Brown’s supporters are more enthusiastic. In fact, among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley. That suggests a very low turnout will help the Republican and a higher turnout is better for the Democrat.

Coakley is not exactly wowing them in the Bay State. As Boston radio talk-show host Michael Graham reports:

She’s insisting that the obscure third-party candidate (named, ironically enough, “Joe Kennedy”) be included in the few debates she has agreed to participate in. So few debates, in fact, that their radio debate this morning on my station, WTKK-FM in Boston, is turning into a huge media event. It’s a smart strategy for Coakley, a weak and unimpressive candidate, but it also shows how little confidence her campaign team has in their candidate.

Now, this is Massachusetts, so don’t bet the farm on a Brown once-in-a-generation upset. But by the same token, this is Massachusetts. If a Democrat is in a close race to replace Ted Kennedy there, what does this say about the political landscapes in Arkansas, Nevada, and a lot of other states with competitive races? Frankly, if the election is close, Democrats should be very, very nervous.

John, a potential victory by Republican Scott Brown in the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat — which would be “10” on the political Richter scale — is now more than simply a pipe dream by conservatives looking to upset ObamaCare and deliver a megadose of political medicine to the cocooned Beltway set. The race seems to be fairly close. Scott Rasmussen, following a private poll with a margin of 11 points for State Attorney General Martha Coakley, shows that the race is now down to nine points. Here is the kicker:

Special elections are typically decided by who shows up to vote and it is clear from the data that Brown’s supporters are more enthusiastic. In fact, among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley. That suggests a very low turnout will help the Republican and a higher turnout is better for the Democrat.

Coakley is not exactly wowing them in the Bay State. As Boston radio talk-show host Michael Graham reports:

She’s insisting that the obscure third-party candidate (named, ironically enough, “Joe Kennedy”) be included in the few debates she has agreed to participate in. So few debates, in fact, that their radio debate this morning on my station, WTKK-FM in Boston, is turning into a huge media event. It’s a smart strategy for Coakley, a weak and unimpressive candidate, but it also shows how little confidence her campaign team has in their candidate.

Now, this is Massachusetts, so don’t bet the farm on a Brown once-in-a-generation upset. But by the same token, this is Massachusetts. If a Democrat is in a close race to replace Ted Kennedy there, what does this say about the political landscapes in Arkansas, Nevada, and a lot of other states with competitive races? Frankly, if the election is close, Democrats should be very, very nervous.

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Don’t Like Much of Anything

Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen find that “10.2% unemployment is a significant political event for President Barack Obama” that “could well usher in a particularly serious crisis for his political standing, influence and ability to advance his agenda.” They note that his current approval ratings are already low for a new president and suggest they will keep declining:

In a Rasmussen Reports poll taken after the House of Representatives passed health-care reform by the narrowest of margins last Saturday night, 54% of likely voters say they are opposed to the plan with only 45% in favor. Furthermore, in the all-important category of unaffiliated voters, 58% oppose the bill. That’s one of the reasons why so many moderate Democratic House members opposed it.

The CNN poll also shows that in addition to health care, a majority of Americans disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy, Afghanistan, Iraq, unemployment, illegal immigration and the federal budget deficit. Put simply, there isn’t a critical problem facing the country on which the president has positive ratings.

The bottom line is that the voters don’t like what Obama is doing and are unlikely to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt or, as he is wont to do, blame George W. Bush for all our ills. Therefore, Rasmussen and Schoen conclude, “unless Mr. Obama changes his approach and starts governing in a more fiscally conservative, bipartisan manner, the independents that provided his margin of victory in 2008 and gave the Democrats control of Congress will likely swing back to the Republicans, putting Democratic control of Congress in real jeopardy.”

Moreover, this analysis does not account for voters’ concerns on national security. While the economy and health care still occupy the top spots on the list of voters’ concerns, foreign-policy crises, failures, and missteps have helped fell more than one president and may do so again. In addition, when the president is not on the ballot, it is sometimes his party’s congressional incumbents who bear the brunt of voters’ anger. In 2006, with the Iraq war at a low ebb, the public returned Democrats to control of the House, signifying their displeasure with a conflict that was going badly and a president who had not yet made a decision to reverse our fortunes.

Will the public take kindly to the spectacle of the 9/11 mastermind in a three-ring judicial circus in New York? Will the voters become alarmed as Iran proceeds on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons and rogue states begin to test and challenge the U.S.? One senses that foreign policy — from the failed settlement-freeze gambit to the excruciating Afghanistan-war seminars — has the Obami tied up in knots. As Americans increasingly sense that events are spinning out of control, they too may want to send a message: don’t close Guantanamo, don’t try terrorists in the U.S., and get tough with our foes. If so, voters will have another cluster of reasons to make a change in Washington.

Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen find that “10.2% unemployment is a significant political event for President Barack Obama” that “could well usher in a particularly serious crisis for his political standing, influence and ability to advance his agenda.” They note that his current approval ratings are already low for a new president and suggest they will keep declining:

In a Rasmussen Reports poll taken after the House of Representatives passed health-care reform by the narrowest of margins last Saturday night, 54% of likely voters say they are opposed to the plan with only 45% in favor. Furthermore, in the all-important category of unaffiliated voters, 58% oppose the bill. That’s one of the reasons why so many moderate Democratic House members opposed it.

The CNN poll also shows that in addition to health care, a majority of Americans disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy, Afghanistan, Iraq, unemployment, illegal immigration and the federal budget deficit. Put simply, there isn’t a critical problem facing the country on which the president has positive ratings.

The bottom line is that the voters don’t like what Obama is doing and are unlikely to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt or, as he is wont to do, blame George W. Bush for all our ills. Therefore, Rasmussen and Schoen conclude, “unless Mr. Obama changes his approach and starts governing in a more fiscally conservative, bipartisan manner, the independents that provided his margin of victory in 2008 and gave the Democrats control of Congress will likely swing back to the Republicans, putting Democratic control of Congress in real jeopardy.”

Moreover, this analysis does not account for voters’ concerns on national security. While the economy and health care still occupy the top spots on the list of voters’ concerns, foreign-policy crises, failures, and missteps have helped fell more than one president and may do so again. In addition, when the president is not on the ballot, it is sometimes his party’s congressional incumbents who bear the brunt of voters’ anger. In 2006, with the Iraq war at a low ebb, the public returned Democrats to control of the House, signifying their displeasure with a conflict that was going badly and a president who had not yet made a decision to reverse our fortunes.

Will the public take kindly to the spectacle of the 9/11 mastermind in a three-ring judicial circus in New York? Will the voters become alarmed as Iran proceeds on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons and rogue states begin to test and challenge the U.S.? One senses that foreign policy — from the failed settlement-freeze gambit to the excruciating Afghanistan-war seminars — has the Obami tied up in knots. As Americans increasingly sense that events are spinning out of control, they too may want to send a message: don’t close Guantanamo, don’t try terrorists in the U.S., and get tough with our foes. If so, voters will have another cluster of reasons to make a change in Washington.

Read Less




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