I Don’t Think that Means What you Think it Means

Ted Cruz's definition of "the American people" needs some refining.

Ted Cruz, Mike LeeSenator Ted Cruz:  “Mr. President, I want you to imagine simply that Senate Republicans had stood together and said, we support the House Republicans in standing with the American people. Mr. President, if that had happened, this result, I believe, would have been very, very different. It is heartbreaking to the American people that Senate Republicans, divided as they did and decided to direct their criticism, direct their attention, direct their cannon fire at House Republicans and at those standing with the American People.”‘

In regards to the American people, Pew Research reports:  Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative

Unfavorable Views of Tea Party Have Nearly Doubled Since 2010

 

Of course, if Cruz defines “the American people” as “Tea Party Republicans” his position makes more sense.

Another poll (NBC/WSJ) shows the combined “Very Positive” and “Somewhat Positive” for the Tea Party at 24% and the combined “Somewhat Negative” and “Very Negative” at 53%.

 

Ted Cruz's Popularity Rises among Tea Party Reps, Falls among Others

Very Unfavorable Views of Tea Party Have Tripled Since 2010

Much more at the link.

On the topic of those same American people and the ACA itself, it is true that a plurality view it unfavorably (as per a recent Kaiser poll):

Slide4

But, of course, that captures those who do not favor it because it doesn’t go far enough.  It would be helpful if someone would include a question that breaks down why people don’t view it favorably.

Beyond that, the specific components of the law poll pretty well:

Slide8

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    As noted in my post this morning, I think it’s quite possible that Ted Cruz doesn’t understand that “the American people” and “Tea Party Republicans” are not one and the same. Certainly, most TPRs seem not to understand that.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Grifters gotta grift.

  3. JoshB says:

    It’s comparable to every Facebook post from my grandmother. There is lots of “WE THE PEOPLE” (caps included) when posting about whatever new shiny thing the Tea Party is going on about. Delusions of grandeur seem to run high with that group.

  4. KM says:

    Silly rabbit, “We The People” has always meant “me and mine” when the TEAs talk. How else could there a Real America (and presumable a Fake America to go with that) that’s always on their side if not?

  5. Rob in CT says:

    @James Joyner:

    By all accounts, Ted Cruz isn’t actually stupid. He knows full well he’s not standing with a majority. He also knows that his stunt has raised his profile, particularly amongst a very highly motivated and easily fooled group of people, from whom he can get money and political support. He’s a senator from Texas. He doesn’t need to actually appeal to a majority (though he should need to be more careful than a House Rep from a gerrymandered district).

    There is lots of “WE THE PEOPLE” (caps included) when posting about whatever new shiny thing the Tea Party is going on about

    Yes, that’s part of the schtick.

    Step 1: Tell a group of people that they are the REAL Americans – indeed the Last, Best Hope for America before the (brown) moocher horde dooms us all. Flatter people, and then play on their fears.

    Step 2: fundraising, baby.

    Step 3: rinse, repeat. Do it well and you’ve got it made for life. Perhaps in government, perhaps on wingnut welfare.

  6. mantis says:

    Ted Cruz is the American People, Steven. Anyone who denies that is no true American.

    P.S. This aint over. They are only going to get worse.

  7. maggie says:

    “IF a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bust his ASS every time he jumped. ” What the heck does THIS particular statement from THIS particular idiot mean???? He was the best they could find to replace Kay Hutchinson?????? “IF” is a childish dream. But Reality and this man have obviously never been introduced or parted ways some time ago.

    Cruz is just ONE more reason that having to live in Texas is such an embarassment to me. You take the Tea Party mentality and combine it with Texas mentality and you get TED CRUZ, who is no more representative of thinking Americans ANYWHERE, than was . But, hey, having lived here for 31 years, I can tell you, that the world view here is limited by most with the belief that Texas is still a Republic, and (white)Texans (even those born in Canada) are superior to other people by their God given birthright and skin color and the By God American Team of the Dallas Cowboys!
    I will be so glad when circumstances change and I can leave this crazy state and go live where people you theirheads for something other than a hat rack.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    As noted in my post this morning, I think it’s quite possible that Ted Cruz doesn’t understand that “the American people” and “Tea Party Republicans” are not one and the same.

    Ted is actually very well aware of that fact, but he’ll argue anything. He knows it’s not true, but he also knows it sounds good in an argument, so he’s going to say it.

  9. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ted is actually very well aware of that fact, but he’ll argue anything. He knows it’s not true, but he also knows it sounds good in an argument, so he’s going to say it.

    See, he did learn something at those fancy ‘elite’ schools he matriculated at. Perhaps this will end the calls that he be excommunicated from their ranks of alumni?

  10. Todd says:

    I think/hope that the war for control of the Republican party may be entering a decisive phase. Eventually the Tea Party is either going to succeed in totally destroying the Republican brand, or they’re going to get frustrated enough to just sulk off and form a 3rd party.

    Either way, they will become more and more marginalized over time.

    … but it’s not going to be pretty on the way down.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    Certainly, most TPRs seem not to understand that.

    Truly. If they can’t get the diagnosis right, there’s reason to believe their prescription is suspect.

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    See, he did learn something at those fancy ‘elite’ schools he matriculated at. Perhaps this will end the calls that he be excommunicated from their ranks of alumni?

    Well, he came into college already that way, so perhaps he learned his ease with lying at his high schools — Faith West Academy and Second Baptist High School in Texas.

  13. legion says:

    @James Joyner: What Ted Cruz believes is largely immaterial. What’s important is that the Tea Party voters believe they are the “voice of Amurrika” and anything that conflicts with their dogma must be “skewed polls”.

  14. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    By all accounts, Ted Cruz isn’t actually stupid.

    At a minimum he is showing us that his intelligence is not that well rounded.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Todd:

    Eventually the Tea Party is either going to succeed in totally destroying the Republican brand, or they’re going to get frustrated enough to just sulk off and form a 3rd party.

    There is a 3rd option: As the older parts of the Tea Party die at an ever increasing rate the remnants will feel more and more marginalized and tire of the continual legislative losses. Some of them will become even more radicalized and join the militia movement but most will just fade away.

  16. john personna says:

    (If Cruz went into this thinking he was going to trade hate from moderates for love from extremists, and that things like the Houston Chronicle mea culpa were an acceptable cost, then yes, maybe he was a smart grifter. On the other hand, it this is just where he ended up, after seeking something else entirely, then no, he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was.)

  17. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’d be where he learned lying for the Lord, which can get you out of so many tight squeezes it’s unbelievable.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    At a minimum he is showing us that his intelligence is not that well rounded.

    I suspect you mean “knowledgeable” as one can be quite intelligent and also quite ignorant at the same time. It isn’t always easy but some seem to accomplish the feat with the ease of a practiced gymnast on the balance beam.

  19. Scott says:

    This is basically what I fired off to Cruz this morning (not that he cares): Please don’t pretend you speak for all Americans (or even Texans) because you don’t.

    It really reflects cynicism, narcissism, or delusion or a combination of all three.

    I don’t really care how brilliant he is if he is wrong.

  20. Scott says:

    By the way, according to one recent poll only 38% want the ACA to be repealed and replaced.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    I was concerned that we hadn’t heard from JKB or Jenos since the manufactured crisis was averted….but I just realized….
    THEY ARE OUT ENJOYING THE MEMORIALS!!!!!

  22. george says:

    The idea that a nation of 300 million people is going to agree on something as complex as health care (or anything to do with economics or politics) is ludicrous. Cruz is smart enough to know that, he’s just going after sound bites.

    To stand with “The American People”, a politician would have to cut him or herself into about 100 pieces, possibly with a chain saw to make sure there were splatters for all the splinter groups. The only person who can make that claim, under certain conditions, is the President. Right now that’s Obama, and even from that post he’s not getting any more unanimous support than his predessors Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan – actually I wonder if there was ever a President who everyone agreed spoke for them …

    I doubt anyone takes what Cruz said seriously – I suspect especially not Cruz. Cruz is aiming at becoming President, and what he says and does is geared towards that. His strongest belief, I’d argue, is that he should be President. Everything else is negotiable.

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Yes, that’s part of the schtick.

    Step 1: Tell a group of people that they are the REAL Americans – indeed the Last, Best Hope for America before the (brown) moocher horde dooms us all. Flatter people, and then play on their fears.

    Step 2: fundraising, baby.

    Step 3: rinse, repeat. Do it well and you’ve got it made for life. Perhaps in government, perhaps on wingnut welfare.

    I think you forgot one…

    Step 4: Repeat with no end: We would have won, but we were not sufficiently conservative in our focus. We need more True Conservatives elected!

    For folks like Calgary Cruz, there is no true Scotsman.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Romney Round II?

    I think one of the reasons Romney flopped so badly among the unconverted was that aside from his raw, naked, incessant greed to be President, there was no sense of what he was for. “I’m running for POTUS because I deserve to be POTUS and that’s why you should elect me” was the closest he could ever come to a consistent platform.

    Well, now that Ted Cruz has stabbed his party in the back and gone with a chain-saw after the “moderates” who thought that reneging on the debt was a Bridge Too Far, what does he do for an encore?

  25. @george: Indeed. This is ultimately just populist rhetoric that Cruz is deploying. Still, at some point it would be nice to allow a little reality seep in given that he is really, really fond of saying “the American people.”

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @Scott:

    By the way, according to one recent poll only 38% want the ACA to be repealed and replaced.

    Give it time and I’m sure we can get that number down to 27%.

  27. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    A read a little book once which talked about measurement and the general human need to reduce things down to a number. Sometimes it’s very natural. A temperature is a number. On the other hand, some are a stretch. We talk about “the market up by 200 points” using a very artificial construction.

    The author spent a little time on IQ as a bad reduction. It encourages people to think of “intelligence” as a thing, when there are actually different kinds. We see that with math, and music, and social intelligence.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Cruz was the kind of guy who can argue or persuade, especially in small groups, very well, while at the same time he might not have tremendous judgement. It might be a deficit.

  28. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Cunning might be closer to the mark.

    He was a debate club guy. You know, the folks who will say anything if they think it’ll work in a debate setting? Yeah.

  29. rudderpedals says:

    @grumpy realist: what does he do for an encore?

    Secession

  30. al-Ameda says:

    Certainly, the Canadian-Cuban-American Senator from Alberta-Texas stands with those stalwart, resentful, angry, White Americans who were willing to cause a downgrade in America’s credit rating and a default in American debt securities. Bravo.

  31. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think that some “debate guys” (including those who become lawyers) have more fun winning with what they know is the weaker position. It shows how good they are.

    Of course, that’s exactly what Cruz tried with shutdown.

  32. @john personna: Indeed. In fact, one of the hallmarks of argumentation from an attorney’s POV is that you don’t have to be right to “win.” I actually think that this is part of the problem in our politics since it is so dominated by attorneys.

  33. grumpy realist says:

    @rudderpedals: Well, if this time we say the heck with it and let them go, I can see it solving a lot of problems on both sides. The Teahadists can have their ideal True Amurrikan State (TM) and drop their GNP back to Jacksonian subsistence farming, while the rest of us continue in the 21st century.

    Can anyone explain to me the utopia these Rightist Jacobins think is around the corner? It’s like the Underpant Gnomes, except they’re missing everything after the first line:
    1)Blow government up.
    2) ???
    3) ???

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    The author spent a little time on IQ as a bad reduction. It encourages people to think of “intelligence” as a thing, when there are actually different kinds.

    Exactly. When I was in the 9th grade my psych teacher gave us an IQ test. I finished it 10 mins early and scored perfect on it. The max IQ measured by this test was 135. Most of the questions were ridiculous and definitely slanted to a white middle class life style (“On which side is the hot water faucet?”)(not kidding) I can’t count the # of places I have lived at over the years where the water got switched. Anyway, I was already bored to tears with school and my grades hardly reflected a highly intelligent person (tho in retrospect, I suppose they did reflect one of above average intelligence) and I did not buy it then and hardly buy now the idea that “intelligence” is something that can be measured.

    Not to mention that one of the most intelligent people I have known in my life never got past the 9th grade (dyslexic in the 60’s-70’s).

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I liken IQ to horsepower. Means very little unless you also know what the suspension, transmission and steering are like.

    And even then it’s mostly baloney. I’d be willing to bet that my IQ is higher than Keith Richards or Aretha Franklin. But they can do things my little brain can’t even begin to do, can’t even really try to do.

  36. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    those fancy ‘elite’ schools

    Is the envy as bitter as it sounds?

  37. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “I think that some “debate guys” (including those who become lawyers) have more fun winning with what they know is the weaker position.”

    Here’s the thing, though. Debating is as much skill as brains. Yeah, you can’t be a complete moron and be a great debater but people of perfectly ordinary intelligence can become great debaters if they just work hard at learning and practicing the right techniques.

    This is a common blind spot, especially among our elites. They see certain attributes or accomplishments as a sign of intelligence when all they really signify is someone who’s worked hard and/or grown up with a particular socio-economic background.

    Mike

  38. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: well, they have lifted the barrycades from the mlk memorial now…..what a sham they were.

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    well, they have lifted the barrycades from the mlk memorial now…..what a sham they were.

    FREEDOM!!!!

    Admit it: you feel a little bit stupid now, don’t you?

  40. Franklin says:

    If you look at the graph, the reason that most people didn’t have negative views of the Tea Party back in 2010 is because they didn’t know much about them. Now they know.

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @ bill…
    yeah…it’s too bad Republicans insisted on closing the Memorials in the first place…for NOTHING!!!!
    The Republicans did the same thing with Iraq…over $2T for NOTHING!!!!

  42. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: Well….not quite nothing. Iran managed to convince the US to take out its biggest rival in the Mideast and didn’t have to drop a penny on it. Just had to prime a stalking horse with the right story and drop him in front of the gullible Bushies.

  43. anjin-san says:

    the barrycades from the mlk memorial now

    Well, the cost of the GOP’s little tea party will be about 25 billion. So we should absolutely obsess about a brief park shutdown. (a shutdown the GOP caused in the first place)

  44. Mr. Replica says:

    Cruz just says “the American people” a whole lot due to needing a replacement for ending every sentence with ” eh’ “.

  45. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    @C. Clavin: well, they have lifted the barrycades from the mlk memorial now…..what a sham they were.

    Now now, no complaints are accepted. Republicans wanted this shutdown, they got it, and they turned it into a sham – a cafeteria-plan shutdown (non-essential stuff they like … open, other stuff … not open).

  46. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, good grief

    The defaulting-will-force-us-to-get-our-crap-together brigade is out again.

    I despise these idiots with the passion of a million burning galaxies.

  47. Kylopod says:

    What we need to understand, first and foremost, is that one of the unifying myths of America’s conservative movement, going back at least to the days of Goldwater, is that the American public agrees with them. This belief is immune to any evidence refuting it because it’s essentially a piece of dogma, a binding tenet that gives conservatives meaning and purpose. Polls are not to be trusted, at least until they’ve been “unskewed,” and even getting thrashed in an election is proof of nothing; it simply means that the election was stolen–by ACORN, by the IRS, or by the “lamestream media.” No matter what happens, Americans are a conservative people and liberals are un-American subversives, because that’s just self-evident–it follows logically from what conservatives think it means to be an “American.” (And yes, there are racial overtones to this assumption.)

    But what I find interesting over the last few months is how doggedly the right has latched onto polls showing Obamacare’s unpopularity. Never mind for the moment that most Americans don’t know what is actually in the law, or that most of its specific elements are popular, or that a significant portion of the opposition comes from liberals who feel the law doesn’t go far enough, or that it’s actually risen in popularity in the last few weeks, coinciding with both the shutdown and the rollout of the exchanges.

    It’s just funny how rarely Republicans bring up polling on any other issue. It’s not surprising they wouldn’t: most aspects of the GOP agenda–on everything from taxes and entitlement spending to same-sex marriage and immigration–do not poll well. Even their views on health-care do not poll well, once you get past the simplistic binary “Are you for or against Obamacare?” framing. Universal health care is, as it has always been, an extremely popular goal, and despite some obfuscation on this point, not a single policy idea coming from Republicans right now even purports to create universal coverage (at least now that they’ve waged war against a law that was once the Republican version of universal health care). Cruz’s remarks are sort of the reductio ad absurdum to the recent Republican habit of ignoring all public opinion polls except those on Obamacare popularity. The logic is as fascinating as it is myopic: it amounts to the argument that Obamacare is so unpopular that Congress has a duty to destroy it, even if it is through a method that the American public overwhelmingly opposes (and which rationally never stood a chance of succeeding, but never mind)

    As for those other polls? They just need to be unskewed, dammit, and then they will confirm the truth about the American public that conservatives knew all along.

  48. mattbernius says:

    @MBunge:

    Debating is as much skill as brains. Yeah, you can’t be a complete moron and be a great debater but people of perfectly ordinary intelligence can become great debaters if they just work hard at learning and practicing the right techniques.

    This.

    BTW, this is especially important to appreciate when discussing talk radio. Not only do most of the successful guys understand how to win a debate, they also have their finger on both the scales and the dump button.

    The net result is a medium that helps solidify, in present politics, a belief that the right is right among true believers.

  49. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    What we need to understand, first and foremost, is that one of the unifying myths of America’s conservative movement, going back at least to the days of Goldwater, is that the American public agrees with them.

    Can you provide evidence to back up the Goldwater claim? The reason I ask is I’m working on an article for OTB on the topic and that info would really help.

  50. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius: Well, look no further than Goldwater’s own words (or, rather, the words of his ghostwriter, Brent Bozell), from The Conscience of a Conservative:

    I am a politician, a United States Senator. As such, I have had an opportunity to learn something about the political instincts of the American people, I have crossed the length and breadth of this great land hundreds of times and talked with tens of thousands of people, with Democrats and Republicans, with farmers and laborers and businessman. I find that America is fundamentally a Conservative nation. The preponderant judgment of the American people, especially of the young people, is that the radical, or Liberal, approach has not worked and is not working. They yearn for a return to Conservative principles.

  51. Dave D says:

    You know once the birthers started their garbage in ’08 I heard a lot of Manchurian Candidate references that this foreign Obama (having not yet produced and then faked his long form,) was ruining the nation. My question is where are the extremely crazy “leftists” purporting that Cruz is just that. Invented conspiracy theory here: Cruz’s father brainwashed by the Castro regime raises a son who is only out to ruin the American system. He secretly pretends to be a conservative, but uses this as leverage to help destroy the capitalistic system of the evil American system. The whole while making millions in campaign contributions for trying to bring about the end of the economic system of this country. SNARK
    I am glad the far left is not nearly as insane as the far right. And I am glad that at the very least the TPR in the senate understand that defaulting on debt would be a terrible and treasonist act committed upon this country by the tiniest of majorities.

  52. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    Not only do most of the successful guys understand how to win a debate, they also have their finger on both the scales and the dump button.

    I would quarrel with your claim that most of the talk-radio figures understand how to win a debate. Most of these people (Bill O’Reilly is one exception) rarely participate in public debates with prominent liberals. They’ve crafted an ability to construct and communicate lengthy and detailed arguments in total isolation, for the most part, from anyone who challenges them. And this tendency seeps over into their audience.

    Having grown up in the Clinton era, I admit I was sometimes impressed by the “debating skills” of dittoheads and their ilk. They seemed to have an endless supply of BS they could pull out of their nether regions, which I wouldn’t necessarily do a good job of confronting since I wasn’t anticipating it to begin with.

    On the Internet, however, I’m struck by how pathetic the typical righty is at defending their views. You see it here at OTB routinely. Semi-regulars like Eric Florack or Bill must be masochists coming here, not because their comments receive lots of “thumbs down,” but because their arguments get torn to shreds by other commenters here, yet they seem completely oblivious to that fact. (Superdestroyer, for those who haven’t figured it out yet, is simply an attention-seeking troll.) And that’s not to mention all the hit-and-run commenters who post some bit of nonsense and promptly disappear.

    Partly I think this reflects the different dynamics of the Internet and “real life.” Take the commenter from a few months ago who popped in here simply to express the lucid insight claiming that it is Obama, and not Reagan, who tripled the national debt. I did a little Google search and linked to a chart showing the debt at the end of each fiscal year for the last half-century or so, making it very clear that the debt tripled under Reagan and hasn’t even doubled under Obama so far. The commenter, of course, then simply disappeared into the matrix, not even showing the decency to post an even more idiotic rebuttal.

    But when you’re talking to a right-wing relative over the dinner table, you can’t “link” to information refuting their claims. They say “Reagan reined in the national debt!” and you respond “That’s not true! He tripled the debt” and they respond, “Stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid!” To an outside observer who knows nothing of politics, it looks like a he-said-she-said game. There’s no independent standard on which to judge the competing claims, so something that’s completely wrong may appear “equal” to something that’s simply objective fact.

    One of the paradoxes of the Internet age is that there are a lot more opportunities for the spread of misinformation, while at the same time it’s easier to access sources of information that debunk these claims. The bottom line is that any reasonably intelligent person should be able to sift through the claims and decide what’s true and what’s nonsense, but for a variety of reasons many people, including some intelligent people who should know better, choose not to exercise this ability and to wallow in delusion, seeking out only information that confirms what they want to believe. That was true before there was an Internet, and it remains true today.

    So, basically, the right’s “debating” abilities are about as shallow as their attempts to reach out to minorities. It comes down to the ability to spout nonsense that sounds like wisdom in the echo chamber in which they live, but which has no tendency to persuade anyone on the outside–which, to be fair, they don’t show much interest in doing anyway.

  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Kylopod:

    But when you’re talking to a right-wing relative over the dinner table, you can’t “link” to information refuting their claims. They say “Reagan reined in the national debt!” and you respond “That’s not true! He tripled the debt” and they respond, “Stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid!”

    I find that an iPad does wonders.

  54. Jc says:

    In Cruz’s defense, he was really saying “Scared, paranoid white people mostly over 50” Those are The American People he was talking about.

  55. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:
    Thanks!