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A chart is worth a thousand words


Poll data here.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 13, 2010; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms , Polls  
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The trust questions are of all adults, the generic ballot question is registered voters. Democrats have a lot of support among people who aren't registered.

Posted by: ath17 | July 13, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

By chance, do any of these thousand words describe the American public as "dumb?"

Posted by: ciocia1 | July 13, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I actually think this is a bigger deal than ath17's point, although that's probably true. Distrust in the people governing translates to distrust in government itself, regardless of which party is in power. Democrats aren't doing a good job of wrestling with the implications of that. It's a pretty easy corollary to the above to say that how people judge Democrats relative to Republicans is less important than how they judge the governing party in absolute terms. Those Democratic ratings are bad in absolute terms, the first one bad enough to single-handedly constitute a crisis of confidence in government.

Republicans, for better or worse, are recognized as the party of lower taxes. As long as that's true, if people don't believe in the work of government, that's going to accrue to the benefit of the GOP. If I don't believe in the government, why do I want to pay taxes to it? Even if I think the Republicans are also going to be awful, at least they won't make me pay for the privilege of their awfulness.

People are angry. They will continue to be angry until their own lives seem better and/or the people they see as responsible for their situation are metaphorically strung up for public view. This doesn't form a particularly solid basis for governing, but the Democrats have seemingly gone out of their way to avoid it. Bankers got a bailout and are wealthier than ever. Working people still don't have jobs. There is oil gushing everywhere. Health care costs haven't stopped rising. Those last three aren't the Democrats' fault (in whole; Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, et al, are a different matter), but it's hard to see a situation where working people don't think they're being screwed. And Democratic Party is unwilling to hang out to dry the Dems who have been responsible for this. You want to see an enthusiasm gap close quickly? Let Democratic leadership call out Ben Nelson by name and say the party will no longer be held hostage to his parochial demands.

All this seems very roundabout, but the point is this: Democrats shouldn't crow about those first two numbers because at the moment they have almost no bearing on the third for a reason. Nobody wants to pay for the privilege of being screwed, and people think the government is complicit in them being screwed. Unless Democrats change that perception, they're going to lose, regardless of how people feel about Republicans.

Posted by: OpieCurious | July 13, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The results on the question about voting to enable Congress to keep Obama in check seems important to me

Posted by: bdballard | July 13, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Also, only 42% trust the Democrats more on the economy. 34% trust the Republicans more. 46% would vote Democrat, and 47% would vote Republican. So of the 24% who had some sort of neutral opinion on the economy question, 13% would vote R and 6% would vote D. My point is just that it's not as crazy/irrational as the chart makes it seem.

Posted by: jeffreyl1 | July 13, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I was just about to write what bdballard wrote. As a middle of roader, I find the current crop of Republicans utterly repulsive, but also believe a good dose of gridlock would do the country some good. See, e.g., the Presidency of Clinton, William J.

Posted by: ostap666 | July 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"I was just about to write what bdballard wrote. As a middle of roader, I find the current crop of Republicans utterly repulsive, but also believe a good dose of gridlock would do the country some good. See, e.g., the Presidency of Clinton, William J."

While it did alright on the economy, there was quite a bit of odious legislation that got passed. Exhibit A: the Telecom act

Fairly annoying to see "independents" complain about the effects of that legislation today while voting to replicate the circumstances that produced it to begin with.

Not to mention the financial deregulation that pretty much caused the economic collapse to begin with was passed during the "gridlock" of the 90s. (See Phil Gramm)

Posted by: lol-lol | July 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The preference for Republicans is to a great extent a preference for any party which opposes the Obama/Pelosi Regime: it's a huge plea for relief from what is perceived as oppressive policies.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 13, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

After his inauguration, when he shoveled hundreds of billions over to the finance "industry" for NO concessions, Obama and the Dems erased any distinction between themselves and their supposed opponents. A couple of explanations for this come to mind:

1) The Dems are just as enthusiastic as the Republicans about doing corporate scutwork;
2) the Dems are so politically stupid that they never noticed the opportunity to draw some bright, bold lines between themselves and the Republicans and the oligarchy.

In either case, Democratic-leaning citizens really need to ask themselves: What difference does it make who wins? Why continue to reward these failures, who continually betray their constituents in order to serve their **real** clients, the oligarchy.

People on the left need to ignore the perennial "argument" -- The Republicans Are Worse! (tm) -- and let the Dems take the beating they deserve. Vote Green, or boycott the election altogether. The Dems are good for nothing but betrayal.

Posted by: SGlover910 | July 13, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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