Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Message to the GOP from Gallup: Don't measure the drapes just yet

Politico is reporting that a year long study by Gallup concludes that most states still prefer Democrats over Republicans. Despite major GOP victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, the apparent resurgence of the GOP may not be what it seems. While the Democrats have lost appeal across the board, the GOP has not seen a reciprocal increase in support.

Almost to a poll, the Republicans have either remained steady or have only seen a one or two percentage point increases in support since Democrats won control of both the Congress and White House in 2008. Congressional Democratic approval ratings are poor, with just 35% saying they approve of the job that Democrats are doing. While this would be reason for Republicans to be dancing in their seats, the GOP approval ratings are even worse at around 25%. While the GOP's strategy of stonewalling all Democratic legislative efforts has worked well enough to raise their own spirits and win them a Senate seat in deep, deep blue Massachusetts, it has not helped them to overtake the Democrats in overall appeal. In short, the American electorate is not ready to give them another shot at running the country.

Could it be that the typical American voter is more sophisticated than once thought? It's clear that Democrats misread the message of the voters in 2008. Could it be that Republicans misread the same message, as well as the most recent elections where the GOP saw independents swing decisively in their favor? While the poll numbers for Democrats are mirroring those that saw their massive defeat in 1994, things are not shifting in the favor of the GOP as much as they would like to believe. The rise of the Tea Party movement seems to be turning off Independents and Swing voters, who are also not excited about the GOP retaking control of Congress any more than the Healthcare Reform efforts of the Democrats.

It seems clear the message Independents and Swing voters are sending is to end the political grandstanding and get something done. They are tired of both parties putting their own political ambitions ahead of the nation. After more than 30 years of bad fiscal policy, our chickens have come home to roost. While Congress will ultimately write the 2011 Federal Budget, the President's budget should be viewed as the message that the American electorate has sent. Everyone is going to have some skin in this game, and the road to getting ourselves out of this mess is going to be a long and hard road to take. The history of the 2010 election cycle has not been written yet, so the GOP shouldn't start measuring the curtains or counting the seats that they haven't won, yet. Most Americans don't trust the GOP, anymore than they trust the Democrats at this point.