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Re: Divided Government Is Back in Fashion

The CNN poll, which showed 70 percent of the public happy that the Senate is no longer filibuster-proof, delivered more bad news for the Democrats:

According to the poll, 46 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, with 44 percent viewing the Republican Party in a positive light. That’s a change from October, when 53 percent had a favorable opinion of Democrats and 36 percent saw the GOP in a positive light.

That’s also bad news for the Democratic spin machine — i.e., the mainstream media — which repeatedly told us that the Republicans weren’t making progress, because the public disliked them so much more than they did the Democrats. It seems that despite all the talk of its being the “party of no” that was in the midst of a supposed “civil war” and run by wacky talk-show hosts, the GOP has caught up to the Democrats. (We already knew this from generic polling, by the way.) The public now views the two parties identically — that is, within the margin of error, neither party is outpacing the other in popularity. (Democrats have a 46 percent favorable/46 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans have a 44/45 percent split.) Thirty-eight percent view Massachusetts as a major setback to the Democrats, 44 only a minor one, and 17 percent (there are that many White House aides?) think it’s no reflection as all.

This should not be surprising. The normal pattern for a minority party is to define itself as the opposition, fight against policies it deems harmful, and only then offer full-blown alternatives. In doing the first two of these, the Republicans have regained political territory lost since 2006. Going forward, they can they tell the American people how they would do things differently. The White House derided the GOP for not jumping to Step 3. The Republicans (who, by the way, did offer many a proposal for the stimulus and for health care, which was rejected out of hand) were busy maintaining a united front against the Obama agenda, rallying their base, swaying independents, and winning three high-profile races. They will in due time need to get around to a positive agenda. But all in all, it’s been quite a successful year for the party over which the chattering class was pronouncing last rites.



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