Americans Not Buying What Either Political Party Is Selling
Neither political party is resonating with the public right now, and neither is acting in the manner the public would like.
According to a new poll from CNN, Americans aren’t really in tune with the policies being advocated by either political party right about now:
A new national survey suggests there are no winners in the public’s eye when it comes to the constant wrangling between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates that 56 percent of Americans say the congressional Republicans’ policies will move the country in the wrong direction, with 53 percent of the public saying the same about policies of the Democrats in Congress.
“Men and women agree that the GOP policies are a bust, but women are split on the Democratic policies while men continue to dislike them. There is a generation gap as well, with younger Americans tending to favor the Democrats’ policies and older Americans more in the GOP camp,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, during the congressional standoff between Democrats and Republicans over disaster relief funding threatened to possibly force a federal government shutdown. An agreement preventing a government shutdown was reached late Monday night.
According to the poll, a majority of Americans don’t like either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party and the favorable ratings for the tea party movement are even lower.
The public attitude about most of the major players in politics isn’t very good right now, actually:
- President Obama’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are at;
- Speaker John Boehner’s are at 37/39;
- Mitch McConnell’s are at 23/33;
- The Democratic Party’s numbers are at 44/48;
- The Republican Party’s numbers are at 39/54;
- The Tea Party’s numbers are at 28/53;
This poll comes out on the same day as a new Gallup poll showing that a majority of Americans think that it’s more important for their representatives to compromise to get things done for the country than stick to their beliefs:
A majority of Americans say it’s more important that political leaders in Washington compromise in order to get things done, rather than stick to their beliefs, even as Congress heads for a government shutdown for the second time in less than two months because of partisan disagreements.
Gallup has asked this question three times over the past 10 months, and each time, Americans have tilted toward the “compromise” end of the spectrum. The most recent survey, conducted Sept. 8-11, marks the first time a majority of Americans have placed themselves on the “compromise” end — a “1” or “2” on the 1-to-5 scale. A little more than a quarter (28% in the Sept. 8-11 survey) gave a “4” or a “5” — the “more important to stick to beliefs” end of the scale.
Not surprisingly, the poll shows that those who identify themselves as Republicans or conservatives are more likely to say that it’s more important for legislators to stick to their beliefs. Even among that group, though, there’s a large plurality that tends toward the compromise side of the debate, although it’s likely the “stick to principles” crowd that accounts for much of the political activism we see from these groups.
It isn’t that surprising that we’d see poll numbers like this after the year that we’ve had. Three different times the government has been brought to the brink of a shutdown because of the refusal of the political parties to compromise, and each time the event threatening the shutdown was completely different. After going through it three times, and with one of the those periods lasting an entire months during the summer, it’s no surprise that the public would be so disaffected with both political parties. Partisans on each side will no doubt try to argue that it’s the other guys fault, but one gets the sense that, outside the Washington beltway and the circles of those who think and talk about politics every day, the average American is just looking at Washington, seeing that it isn’t getting even the most basic things done, and blaming both parties for not doing what’s necessary to cooperate.
Unfortunately, as Chris Cillizza notes today, there’s little chance that we’ll see anything approaching bipartisanship from either side for the next year and a half:
1. The two parties in Congress don’t agree on much of anything. It’s hard to see the FEMA funding fight as anything but a debate on principle given the paltry amount of money at stake. (To be clear: We would gladly take the $2.6 billion in question but when compared to the totality of spending by the federal government, it’s a paucity.)
What 2011 has proven is that the two parties carry widely divergent views about nearly every issue but especially the right way to turn around the nation’s struggling economy.
Republicans see cutting spending and tackling entitlements like Social Security and Medicare as the right path and anything involving raising taxes as a non-starter. Democrats advocate a combination of spending cuts and tax increases with any major changes to entitlement programs regarded as anathema.
2. Both parties are waiting until the 2012 election for a sign from voters. Politicians are a reactive species. (While most people deride pols for being reactive, any job in which your career is entirely dependent on the will of the people would probably make anyone reactive.) And, politicians can be forgiven for wondering just what the heck the American public wants right now.
In 2008, voters seemed to send a clear mandate to President Obama as he won 53 percent of the national vote and 365 electoral votes, a massive victory by the 50-50 standards of the past decade. But, two years later, voters handed Obama and his party a major setback — giving Republicans control of the U.S. House and delivering sweeping victories to the GOP at the state and local level.
[D]o voters want more government? Less? Something less clear cut and more situational when it comes to government’s proper role? The truth is that politicians just don’t know the answer. And they are all waiting until the 2012 election for a final — or at least newer — verdict from voters.
Add up points number one and two and you get the death of bipartisanship — at least until the 113th Congress convenes in 2013.
As Cillizza goes on to note, neither party has any incentive at this point to compromise at this point since to do so would be seen as a sign of capitulation by the base. Everything that is happening now is merely a prelude to the 2012 elections, which both parties seem to think will give them a definitive signal from the public as to which direction it wants to go.
But what if that doesn’t happen? What if we wake up on November 7, 2012 to find Barack Obama re-elected and the Republicans holding on to the House and gaining a slim one or two seat majority in the Senate? We’ll be right back where we started fourteen months previously, even if the Democrats do manage to hold on to the Senate. The difference is there won’t be any elections around the corner for another two years and the parties involved will have to figure out how to work together to get things done, which is what the American people said they wanted way back in September 2011.I’m not sure what the answer to that question is, but it’s fairly clear that we really can’t afford another four years of paralysis.