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Everyone Hates the Republicans. But Does That Matter?

Brendan Nyhan was thinking along similar lines to me in comparing the GOP's abysmal favorability poll numbers with their 1994 antecedents. But he looks to have thought -- or at least posted -- those thoughts first, and his graph looks way better than mine:

6a00d83451d25c69e20120a5b0f103970b-450wi.png

These numbers also suggest a pretty significant secular trend toward everybody hating Congress all of the time. Minority parties can make politics a pretty miserable sphere. Nothing gets done. Media coverage is thick with outrage and scandal and trivialities. Voters begin to loathe the system, and that hurts whoever is in power at the moment. But the GOP is taking that strategy to its logical extreme right now: They have absolutely trashed their own reputation, and though they've managed to drag Democrats down, they've fallen quite a bit further.

What does all this mean? It's hard to say. There is no point on this poll where Democrats have ever posted lower favorability numbers than the GOP. Not in 1993, and not in 2001, both of which were elections that the Democrats lost. Maybe the GOP has figured out something important about the American people not needing to like you in order to elect you. Or maybe they've pushed it too far.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 2, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Next: The Status Quo Wins in Health-Care Reform

Comments

i'm being as patient as i can here but still no talk about the 2:00 am last ammendment shot down by Democrats of the Free Choice ammendment offered by Senator Wyden and shot down by among others Senator Kerry and Bingham and championed by Senator Ensign? It was shot down because "big business" was against it and Senator Kerry even went so far as to mention a MA business that he contacted that was against it. As a big favorite of the ammendment like you I'd have expected some kind of "bizaro world" commentary. Maybe you're still working on it. I'll wait.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 2, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The July 2001 poll is probably not picking up the 9/11 attacks. What had really happened by May 1993? I want 2002 and 1994 numbers.

Posted by: CraigMcGillivary1 | October 2, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Graphs like these are why I think Charlie Cook is completely out-to-lunch about next year's mid-term elections. I would be much more afraid of the dems chances if the public actually look at the Republicans like they are a viable alternative.

Electoral politics is much like running away from a bear. You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy.

Posted by: mayorm | October 2, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Wyden Free Choice???? What is going on and what does the future hold for it. I feel like we're getting hosed by Baucus/Kerry and others who appearantly argued against it. Even though I STILL cannot find a CSPAN or other link to the actual debate that happend at 1am this morning.

Posted by: truth5 | October 2, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

A couple points: that July 2001 poll just makes it clear that a lot can happen between now and election day. Its not that a big Dem net advantage didn't translate into Congressional gains, its that this advantage evaporated following 9/11.

Moreover, the Dem's relative position in the various mid-terms does seem related to the gap between their net approval and the GOP's net approval. Eyeballing the chart, it looks like this difference was about 4% in 1993, 2% in 1997, 15% in 2006, and is around 15% now.

So, while things can change a lot between now an next November, this measure, FWIW, does not point to big GOP gains.

Posted by: rwclayton7 | October 2, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

For once I agree with visionbrkr. Wyden's amendment was the only really transformative health care reform in play and it seems to be gone now. Sure reforming the way insurance companies screen applicants and ending rescission is good, but it doesn't bend the cost curve or help people that can't afford insurance even with subsidies, which go right to insurance company profits. Until those profits are regulated like a utility (given that the govt is giving insurance companies a virtual monopoly on people's health care and a guaranteed stream of money by mandating coverage) with strict caps on profits and administrative charges, health insurance reform is a total joke.

Posted by: srw3 | October 2, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to sound like a loon conspiracy theorist, but I can not even find a video of late last night's health care debate. CSPAN only has part 1 posted, not the last 3+ hours. The Finance Committee website typically has the archive video availbale, but they still don't as of 1PM today. WHAT IS GOING ON????

Posted by: truth5 | October 2, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thinks the color decisions on this graph are very misleading? If you don't want to go with conventional wisdom and make Repubs Red and Dems Blue- then pick two totally different colors like orange and purple. Swapping the traditional colors seems like a deceptive practice. Or maybe I have been spending too much time helping my 6th grader with his math homework- were they are learning about graphs, bias and misleading information.

Posted by: cminmd | October 2, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe the GOP has figured out something important about the American people not needing to like you in order to elect you."

Of course they've figured this out; they may be crazy but they aren't stupid. The side that pops the most damaging October Surprise wins.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | October 2, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe the GOP has figured out something important about the American people not needing to like you in order to elect you. Or maybe they've pushed it too far."

Indeed they have. Republican voters are eminently organizable, and have no ethical quibbles with providing intense pressure on those out of line. Individualism my a**.

In addition, Republican tactics of late, as they continue to hunt down and expell the remaining moderate "heretics", revolves around emotional appeals and obstructionism.

This is actually not all that different from classic insurgency methodology. Like any determined and out-gunned guerilla, republicans are banking on disrupting the process to win.

If they can keep it up long enough, they figure, people will be so fed up with this "change" stuff that never happens that they are bound to return the republicans to power. At some point the progressive forces will abate and all will return to "normal"...

This is of course completely misguided and is very likely to run the country down the abyss. Meanwhile the special interests, who very much share the republican viewpoint on "change", are targeting *their* small-state senators to assure that their revenue-streams are protected.

And why are the small states so corruptible? They very well know that if they don't keep the special interests happy they will pack their things and go somewhere else... An ethical race to the bottom as it were.

Posted by: Upandaway1 | October 2, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't see a link to Nyhan. It's here: http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2009/10/the-effect-of-party-valence-on-midterms.html

Posted by: SteveKier | October 2, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

srw3,


HOORAY!! MARK THE DATE AND TIME!!

I'm sure we've agreed before. The sky is blue right? Earth is round??

but seriously those senators don't have a clue. You can get the benefits (lower cost) of being out from under the employer sponsored plans without actually being out from under it. If employers feel (and i think many do) that they need to hold onto key employees with benefits why not give them the choice on the exchange but have employers pay the exchange for the voucher charge as a simple chargeback? It can't be any worse than how ARRA subsidies are handled now which is a God awful mess. Employees get choice of 10-20 different plans (assuming they understand them) and employers still get employees attached to them. Also the exchange gets the large numbers for the best negotiation possible. WIN/WIN/WIN.

The only ones that lose are those that understand.

AND THE FUNNIEST THING ABOUT LAST NIGHT IS THAT ENSIGN WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR IT. Kerry and Bingham argued against it and then Baucus stopped it before it got ugly for Democrats. It didn't help that it was at 2 in the morning. (Yes i was up and watching it because they basically said they were bringing it up last at around 11:30 pm.)


Ezra I apologize for hijacking part of your post with this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 2, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Good graphs, sound reasoning, but didn't something happen between July 2001 and the next election ? Could it have had some effect on the 2002 elections maybe ? Did the results of any polls jump sometime in September 2001 ?

Also why May 1993 ? Why not August 1993 ?

Posted by: rjw88 | October 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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