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It took all of two years for public to sour on gov't

Today's Washington Post/ABC News poll and its accompanying analysis contain grim news for Democrats, finding ample evidence that the House will flip to the GOP next week.

But there's something really interesting in the internals that may help explain this: A dramatic turnaround in the public's views of government regulation.

The poll found that a majority of likely voters thinks the greater risk is that Dems will increase government regulations, rather than that GOPers will be too lax:

Looking ahead, what do you think is the bigger risk -- that the Democrats will put in place too many government regulations, or that the Republicans will not put enough government regulations in place?

Dems, too many regulations 52

Republicans, not enough regulations 35

What's really interesting, though, is that this is a turnaround from exactly the same time two years ago. Several days before the 2008 election, 45 percent thought the greater danger was that John McCain would not put in place enough government regulation, versus only 40 percent who worried about Obama putting too many regulations in place.

Dems had a historic opportunity to reaffirm public faith in government as a force for reform and a needed check on the excesses of the private sector. The public seemed ripe for a real shift in attitudes. But it hasn't happened.

Republicans -- and not a few Democrats -- will argue that this proves Obama and Dems overreached. But there are other possibilities. Perhaps these numbers confirm Paul Krugman's theory that the too-small stimulus backfired politically, with the sputtering recovery only convincing voters that the ideas underlying Dem spending policies were a failure. Or maybe it validates Matthew Yglesias's theory that a crucial defect of the health reform law was that it phased in key provisions way too slowly, so voters wouldn't get to appreciate the law's benefits in time.

Or maybe it was always folly to imagine that the right's decades-long campaign to demonize government could be undone so quickly. Oh, well.


UPDATE, 1:59 p.m.: In fairness, many others, such as the folks at FireDogLake, also argued for months that the slow phase-ins could prove politically disastrous.

By Greg Sargent  | October 31, 2010; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Health reform, economy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Did Harry Reid succeed?
Next: How grim is the House map for Dems? Very.

Comments

OT: Greg, how long until the new comments section? I've got a Greasemonkey script for the current WaPo comments I might add some features to (like relocating the commentors name to the top from the bottom of a comment), but I don't see the point if you're moving to a whole new system next week. Which I probably won't be able to use, anyway, if it's implemented anything (under the hood) like The Fix's comment section. Except on weekends. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 31, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It's all three.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | October 31, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, it won't be that soon...would love it if you would email me a detailed set of recommendations.

And that goes for others as well, if you send recommendations, I'll pass them along to powers that be

Posted by: Greg Sargent | October 31, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Greg, Happy Sunday. Kevin's question is important.

As for America's amnesia who is to say? Was The Patriot Act too little regulation? TARP? No child left a dime? The unfunded Medicare D entitlement? Actually, it isn't amnesia, it is just that people can't learn if they don't pay attention to who did what to whom.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 31, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

What's really interesting, though, is that this is a turnaround from exactly the same time two years ago.
======================

Bush doubled the national debt, but nobody cared. The debt hysteria began when a Democrat was elected. I recall reading the WaPo's own Robert J. Samuelson screeching about the deficit shortly after Obama was elected...but not before then.

One nation controlled by the media.
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | October 31, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Detailed recommendations:

Some kind of place pointer. Long many comment threads get out of control quickly.

Local ID blockers, automatically recorded and counted at the monitors position. (New version of STRF shows up and everybody blocks immediately, the blog owner knows it)

Ability to search column by ID. (so I can find MIA, for example quickly)

Post approbation/disapprobation buttons.
Simple typeface controls so all caps isn't the easy way to emphasize.

NO twitter posts to the printed blog comments.

Links to WAPO's poster's home page unit. (Click on ID get blogger's pages from the Editorial pages.)

And K-W writes grease Monkey code to keep your own private biography of posters to be able to track borderline trolls for personal reference. (Maybe we can trade opinions)

Posted by: ceflynline | October 31, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Ability to search column by ID. (so I can find MIA, for example quickly)
-------------------------------
morning, ceflynline,

It's a bit kludgy, but you can do this now, using the ctrl F box.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 31, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

ashotinthedark,

Thanks for your recommendation of the Big Short.

You are right--it is technical in places. I don't think I would have been able to get through it had I not read lots of stuff about the mortgage bubble first. There was a time I had to keep a list of acronyms and their definitions at my side in order to read anything. The Big Short points out why Wall Street keeps everything so cryptic: it's because they make money when people don't know what they are talking about.

I read the Big Short in one day. I couldn't put it down.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 31, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

question to Kevin Willis:

I downloaded your script and it works great. As each sock puppet pops up, I've edited the code to add it.

If I wanted to just install your new updated code (Firefox, using Greasemonkey), I can't figure out how to do that.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 31, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Just the costs of the health care regulations, still to be put into place, how much will that be?

And that says nothing of the damage to the economy that those regulations will do.

Obama wants to regulate everything and influence so much. IRS agents regulating the purchase of health insurance? Isn't that pure insanity.


Seriously folks, the American People do NOT want more government regulations or taxes

Did you hear, there is an economic crisis?


It appears the democrats are PINING for more government regulations.


What a complete disconect from the American People.


.

Posted by: SummerBreeeze | October 31, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"If I wanted to just install your new updated code (Firefox, using Greasemonkey), I can't figure out how to do that. "

Hey, 12Bar. I've just been going to the page and clicking "install" again. That seems to do the trick.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | October 31, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"NO twitter posts to the printed blog comments. "

Agree. Comment sections that do that are unbearable.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | October 31, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@shrink,

Back at you on the Angle thread.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 31, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@cat,

When I click on "Install", it takes me to a page that starts with this:

// WaPo Troll Hunder
// version 0.2.4 BETA!
// 2010-10-29
--------------------------------

Nothing happens to the script that my Firefox is using.

It's not that big a deal, since I just edit the code, but it is curious.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 31, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

All, check out this analysis showing how difficult the math in the House is for Dems:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/how_grim_is_the_house_map_for.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | October 31, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

There is a new rule against repeating yourself - so you might get banned if you keep on making the same point

Posted by: SummerBreeeze | October 31, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

12Bar

3 straight postings - that is thread-bombing

Posted by: SummerBreeeze | October 31, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent is thread-bombing!

Posted by: clawrence12 | October 31, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar: "If I wanted to just install your new updated code (Firefox, using Greasemonkey), I can't figure out how"

Just going to the page and hitting "Install" has worked for me. It's all adding sock puppets--no new features or anything. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 31, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

12B, another back there.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 31, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

We truly are a nation of spoiled brats.

Posted by: CalD | October 31, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

CalD:

"We truly are a nation of spoiled brats."

If you think you are a spoiled brat, why not just stop being one?

Posted by: ScottC3 | October 31, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

@SummerRainforest: "There is a new rule against repeating yourself - so you might get banned if you keep on making the same point"

Thanks. I'll take my chances. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 31, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Greg, you're missing the most important thing; that the government regulations or programs put in place haven't only failed to provide enough benefits, in many cases they've been actively harmful. The HAMP program for foreclosure mitigation is exhibit A of a program that actually hurt the liberal cause for a generation.

Posted by: dday212 | October 31, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I've always assumed that the health care reforms were phased in after 2012 because the Democrats worried that the bill would be even less popular after it started to take effect, and that putting it off would let them argue that they fixed health care without people actually having to feel it. They weren't counting on it being this deadly straight out of the gate, though.

Ultimately, the problem the Democrats are having was that the 2008 election hugely oversold them. Obama was supposed to be an inspiring figure of change. Once in office, though, all of his accomplishments looked like the same old giveaways to special interests with no benefit to ordinary Americans: the bailout, the stimulus, health care reform. Add to that the various disappointments to the base: Gitmo, Afghanistan, gay rights. This isn't all necessarily Obama's fault, but he's demonstrated clumsy political skills and has done a poor job of articulating his principles. He's got two years to turn it around, and we'll see if he's up to it.

Posted by: tomtildrum | October 31, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

@ ScottC3 | October 31, 2010 4:14 PM:

That's kinda the problem isn't it? Spoiled brats so very rarely think that's what they are, they're pretty much always the last to know. Chances are that if you're forthright enough with yourself to think you might be one, you probably aren't. ;-)

Posted by: CalD | October 31, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

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