- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

American politics passed the midpoint mark this week between the Republicans’ 2008 losses and the 2010 midterm elections, when polls point to Republican Party gains in Congress and the governorships.

The Republican Party clearly has gotten its act together, mounting a united front in Congress against President Obama’s fiscal and economic agenda, and gradually is winning back its rank-and-file base and winning support from the large bloc of independent swing voters who have been fleeing Mr. Obama in droves.

Republicans in both the House and Senate have come together to fight Mr. Obama’s economic stimulus plan, his health care takeover, his energy tax proposals in the name of a fictitious climate change, and the rest of his big spending plans.

For anyone who came in late to this story, voters seem to be siding more with the Republicans on the big points than with Mr. Obama and the Democrats.

As the Senate began taking up the Democrats’ health care bill this week, the Gallup Poll reported Monday that 49 percent of American voters said they would urge their members of Congress to vote against the bill, while 44 percent said they would advise them to support it.

On the administration’s irresponsible decision to bring Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others to New York for a civilian criminal trial, Americans, by a lopsided 59 percent to 36 percent, say they should be tried in a military court for swift and certain justice.

Democratic leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers, who have been widely critical of Mr. Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, appear to be significantly out of sync with Americans on this score, too. Gallup found that nearly half of Americans polled (47 percent) support increasing the number of U.S. troops in the war against the Taliban. Thirty-nine percent want to reduce troop levels there.

Some big political movements are going against the Democrats on a number of fronts, as I’ve detailed in this column over the past several months.

But here in the nation’s capital, the liberal Washington Post is finding it hard to recognize that. In a front-page story Monday, the Post ran another of its sweeping polling stories focusing on the irrelevant questions and avoiding the harder ones.

Under the headline “A party both united and divided,” the story said the Republican Party’s “opposition to Obama is strong” (no kidding), “but Republicans are split on GOP’s direction and leaders.”

Its analytical spin on the poll’s findings, the Post reported, “reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party’s leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party’s plans for reclaiming power.”

The story was based in part on a key polling question that asked, “In your view, is the leadership of the Republican party currently taking the party in the right direction or in the wrong direction?” Well, nearly half, 49 percent, said “right direction,” while 42 percent said “wrong direction.

Had it asked more specifically whether the party’s leadership against the stimulus spending bill was the right or wrong direction, or opposition to the health care bill or to the energy bill, the answers would have been lopsided in favor of the Republican leadership.

In an attempt to prove that Republican voters were divided, the Post asked which Republican leader best reflected the Republican Party’s “core values.” The results were predictably divided, with a large “no opinion” - as one would expect them to be nearly three years before the 2012 elections, and as they were for the Democrats in 2005.

You would search in vain in this story to find any polling evidence that Americans are almost evenly divided over which party they would support in next year’s congressional midterms (as Gallup and other polls have reported).

The Post poll notwithstanding, voters are telling other pollsters that they are not happy with their Democratic leadership. Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd is in deep trouble in his re-election bid. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, if the election were held today, would be sent home. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s former Senate seat in Delaware is a possible Republican pickup.

The political climate has changed dramatically in a number of Democratic-trending states as voters have turned sour on the majority party’s handling of the economy, spending and a monstrous debt that threatens to sandbag the nation’s fiscal stability and global credit.

For example: The Columbus Dispatch reported last month that Ohio is turning a “reddish tinge,” and it wasn’t talking about its autumn colors.

Polls were showing that Republicans were threatening to take back the state’s governorship and hold an open Senate seat. A Quinnipiac poll of 1,123 voters found that half said they disapproved of the job Mr. Obama was doing, up from 42 percent in September.

The Nov. 11 poll found that a stunning 64 percent of Ohioans are either somewhat or very dissatisfied with the way Democrats are handling things in the Buckeye State.

“The Democratic lead in the governors’ and Senate races has evaporated, and for the first time, President Barack Obama is under water in the most important swing state in the country,” said Quinnipiac polling analyst Peter Brown.

The run-up to next year’s midterm elections is a work in progress, but it’s increasingly clear that the Republican Party is slowly gaining political strength and the Democrats are losing it.

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

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