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Only one third of Democrats see this Congress' achievements as historic

What if the Dem base's lack of enthusiasm is rooted in the fact that Dems aren't even aware of how much Congress has accomplished in the last two years?

A new poll from Pew and National Journal contains a really striking finding: Only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent Congresses. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Dems think it has accomplished the same or less.

Here are the findings among Dems:

Compared to recent Congresses, would you say this Congress has accomplished more, accomplished less, or accomplished the same amount?

Among those who say less: When you say Congress has accomplished less this year, is that because Congress hasn't done enough or Congress has done the wrong things?

More 33

Less and not done enough 18

Less and done wrong things 5

Same 37

While one doesn't want to read too much into one poll -- I haven't seen others ask the question this way -- this is nonetheless really striking if it comes anywhere near approximating opinion among Dems. Reasonable people can debate whether the stimulus was big enough or whether Dems could have passed a more comprehensive health reform law. But you would have thought few would debate that this Congress is one of the most ambitious and productive in decades in terms of the sheer number and scale of successful legislative initiatives.

Yet despite passing an enormous stimulus that many credit with rescuing us from disaster, passing health reform after a half century of failure, rescuing the auto industry, and successfully completing the biggest overhaul of Wall Street regulations since the Great Depresssion, only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent ones.

Maybe this speaks to an enormous Dem failure to communicate their successes. Or maybe it's another sign of how bloated expectations were amid the euphoria of Obama's win. Or perhaps the sense of just how monumental our problems are -- and the fact that Dems secured such large Congressional majorities -- led rank and file Dems to expect truly historic, paradigm shifting levels of leadership. Whichever it is, these numbers shed fascinating new light on the enthusiasm gap problem. Just wow.

By Greg Sargent  | October 5, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Financial reform, Health reform, House Dems, Senate Dems, economy  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

LOL!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I'll go with Explanation No. 3:

"Or perhaps the sense of just how monumental our problems are -- and the fact that Dems secured such large Congressional majorities -- led rank and file Dems to expect truly historic, paradigm shifting levels of leadership."

And I will extend it beyond Democrats to the Independents who also voted for Obama and the Dems.

Posted by: wbgonne | October 5, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

FTA:

"Maybe this speaks to an enormous Dem failure to communicate their successes. Or maybe it's another sign of how bloated expectations were amid the euphoria of Obama's win. Or perhaps the sense of just how monumental our problems are -- and the fact that Dems secured such large Congressional majorities -- led rank and file Dems to expect truly historic, paradigm shifting levels of leadership."


You answered your own question. How much of the FinReg bill was really historic? Why aren't any banksters in jail(especially in light of the foreclosure fraud)?

Posted by: Calvin_Jones_and_the_13th_Apostle | October 5, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

If Bush and the Republicans had gotten half-as-far on Social Security reform as Obama and the Democrats did on Healthcare, I would have been celebratory.

Perhaps it's just the nature of liberals: no matter what you do, they are never satisfied. /snark

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Explanation No. 4: Republicans were able to shut down most of the "truly historic" legislation.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

For a "Political Party" the D's really do suck at politics.

The other day I saw something about how (paraphrasing here) some 90+ percent of people received a tax cut as part of the stimulus but almost nobody realized it. How is that even possible?

It is possible, I'd guess, because the American media messes its trousers at the thought of passing on positive news of the Democrats out of fear of being called liberal.

Posted by: PaciolisRevenge | October 5, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Obviously the DNC needs to come out with a simple message for the base:

I am not a witch.

I am you.

Posted by: BGinCHI | October 5, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

IMO historic analysis requires a span of time. I have no doubt that this Congress will be considered historic in its achievements, most especially for pulling the economy back from total collapse.

Posted by: Beeliever | October 5, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

This poll reminds of the Pew polls showing Dems unaware of impending electoral doom. Although the answers to this poll question are necessarily more ideologically colored, I wonder if they are reflective of the same basic thing: Dems just not really paying attention.

Posted by: jbossch | October 5, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Seeking just one answer is almost always wrong (let's call it the silver bullet fallacy). Surely all of Greg's suggestions contribute. But I'd add one more...the constant barrage of Republican content into the media space which not merely forwards their preferred memes but makes focus on Dem accomplishments that much more difficult to achieve.

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

As opposed to the constant barrage of liberals attacking Christine O'Donnell?!

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This from the summary article:

"The results suggest that the angry rhetoric has clouded Congress's ability to convey a clear message on policy advancements, costing members the ability to cut through the invective with substance."

Therein lies the problem.

I also find the question itself to be suspect. SO MANY THINGS were accomplished either that didn't get the attention they deserved or were quickly drowned out by noise.

If the question had a declarative statement reminding people of some of the accomplishments I am positive the poll would have more logical findings.

Here is one such statement from the summary article:

"Members of both parties in Washington agree that historic steps - whether they are viewed as forward or backward - were taken on health care, financial regulation, fiscal stimulus efforts, the rescue of the automotive and financial industries, education policy changes, and intervention in the national foreclosure crisis."

Okay, now vote.

You could actually list a number of other accomplishments that aren't considered "major" but are huge nonetheless, as just one example the FDA now oversees cigarettes. That to me is a big F'n deal but it is totally ignored.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 5, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

OT but very important...

Foreign money coming in to affect US election outcomes...
http://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/05/foreign-chamber-commerce/

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I blame congressional Dem leadership and Obama for this result. If they wouldn't spend so much time complaining about GOP partisanship and obstruction and calling Tea Partyers names then folks would be able to focus on Dem legislation. There's no doubt that this congress has passed historic legislation (whether it's good or bad is another question).

"The results suggest that the angry rhetoric has clouded Congress's ability to convey a clear message on policy advancements."

Posted by: sbj3 | October 5, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, Greg, banks own the place. Still.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20101004/ARTICLE/10041051/2416/NEWS

"The process of banks hiring people to break into homes, even when occupied, is just the latest oddity of the messy foreclosure crisis in Florida.

Some property owners are reporting the break-ins to law enforcement as burglaries. Yet investigators consider the disputes a civil matter because the contractors do not display criminal intent.

That essentially leaves the property owners without recourse.

The attorney for the owner of the Punta Gorda home where the beer was left on the counter in March says the banks "have become intoxicated with power" because there are no consequences to sending contractors out to break into homes that they do not own."
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | October 5, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Apathy has consequences. Folks may not get everything they want, they may choose not to donate or work for the party, but they can AT LEAST vote.

The consequences should the GOP regain control of governance will make this period look like paradise.

Posted by: BGinCHI | October 5, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Its the economy (actually the unemployment rate)

If unemployment had gone from 9% to 6%, Congress would have gotten high marks even if it had done nothing on health care or financial reform. With unemployment pushing 10% they won't get credit for anything.

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"calling Tea Partyers names then folks would be able to focus on Dem legislation"

Holy cow is that disingenuous.

Remember August 2009? The Town Brawls where Tea Party people literally shut down forums for communication. Remember that? You're actually blaming Democrats for these hooligans' actions???

Absurdly disingenuous, even for you SBJ.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 5, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

For a "Political Party" the D's really do suck at politics.

I am not a member of an organized political party...I'm a Democrat! --Will Rogers

Posted by: srw3 | October 5, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Reason one, the negative economic climate casts a pall on anything Obama and Dems have done, even for Dem voters.

Reason two, and at least as important, how many voters are capable of comparing the success or failure of output by any two Congresses? May seem like a no-brainer to politics junkies, e.g. those posting here, but sometimes we assume too much on the part of survey respondents.

Posted by: BillB10 | October 5, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

sold2u is exactly right. The race now is to get one's party into place in Congress so as to take credit for the improving economy. The economy is improving--to wit the stock market which has a neon sign hanging around its neck proclaiming "business is improving". The market had the BEST September since 1939!

The job situation is improving, but ever so slowly and with zigs and zags. I am starting to hear radio ads for hiring software developers in northern California. When is the last time you heard that? Check out the web sites of your favorite software and see if they are hiring. Things are starting to pop here--you can feel it.

Will it be soon enough, and widespread enough to influence the 2010's. No. But the reality is that business is picking up.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you what has been historic

The hypocrisy

The idea that Obama will run on a bunch of deceptions and lies - and change his tune just months later.

THAT is UNPRECEDENTED IN AMERICAN HISTORY

That health care weekend - when Democratic members of Congress decide to PURPOSELY WALK THROUGH A CROWD AND THEN MAKE FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM.


That is UNPRECEDENTED.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | October 5, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

OT:

Republicans Hate Those Backroom Deals!!! (When Dems Do It)

...the GOP leadership also plans to wave some attractive incentives in front of them, such as leadership-level positions or powerful committee seats.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20101005/el_yblog_upshot/republicans-eye-potential-party-switchers-in-the-house

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 5, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

@12BarBlues

I sense a turnaround as well. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but things seem to be improving. Don't think it makes any difference for 2010, but I think it saves Obama in 2012.

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

To illustrate 12Bar's comments:

DJIA 10,944.72

Today: +193.45

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 5, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: "You're actually blaming Democrats for these hooligans' actions???"

Whaaa? No speaka the english?

I'm agreeing with Greg - these results speak "to an enormous Dem failure to communicate their successes." Why the failure? They've been too busy whining about GOP obstruction and calling Tea Partyers racists and whackjobs. Perhaps Greg himself doesn't realize how he is contributing - so much concern with O'Donnell and Angle.

(That's not to say that a real focus on Dem "accomplishments" would help their prospects.)

Posted by: sbj3 | October 5, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Now, if you want a reason to worry about the economy, check out this story in today's WSJ about how the Fed is repeating the same mistakes the Bank of Japan made.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703726404575533363658628280.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopBucket

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u,

I bought Oracle months ago because I saw a perking up of the long momentum indicator I'm very fond of.

You know how hard it is to levitate Oracle because of the huge float. Well, Oracle is like the PacMan, it just keeps eating up overhead supply (including Ellison selling something like 100m shares) and keeps gapping above resistance levels. One more level and then it will be challenging its prior all time highs, made ten years ago.

While Oracle can be viewed somewhat as a story stock, it is still a bellweather for the business-to-business software market. It will not rise by itself. This definitely reflects an improved business environment.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

@strf:The idea that Obama will run on a bunch of deceptions and lies - and change his tune just months later.

THAT is UNPRECEDENTED IN AMERICAN HISTORY

Right...

That a commenter can't even examine the record of the previous president before claiming that "running on one thing and doing another" (which is not what Obama did, BTW) is unprecedented.

Didn't Bush campaign on the idea that the US should not be in the business of nation building?

Didn't Bush campaign on putting a lockbox on social security revenues?

A few more unprecedented things...

Added more debt than all previous presidents combined--bush

Doubled the national debt in 8 years--Bush

Took unprecedented surpluses and made them into historic deficits--Bush

Started 2 wars and didn't cut spending or raise taxes to pay for them--bush

Cut taxes primarily on the wealthiest Americans while the treasury was bleeding money from the unilateral wars of choice that he started.--bush

And that's just for starters....

Posted by: srw3 | October 5, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"biggest overhaul of Wall Street regulations since the Great Depresssion"

_____________________________________


I would have to say the biggest overhaul took place under Clinton

Clinton repealed the Glass Steagall Act

Clinton deregulated the derivatives.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were unleashed to spark a real estate bubble, which Obama and the democrats STILL refuse to take the air out of.

Fundamentally, the financial regulation bill this year MISSED THE MARK - refusing to deal with the real issues - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Anyway - these issues need to be addressed.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | October 5, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

@12BB

I think mutual fund managers have missed this rally and are woefully underinvested. If we take out the April high, we might be in for a powerful rally.

How about Intel? Trading at 9x this year's EPS with a div yield of 3.3% Why anyone would be sitting in Treasuries at this point is beyond me...

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Plastics.

Posted by: BGinCHI | October 5, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@sold2u

I'll take a look at INTC. I only own one semi (ALTR) in my trading account (at the moment), but the chips travel in a pack, that's for sure. I love INTC's dividend yield. Usually I pay no attention to dividends, but you are so right. INTC has been good to me in the past.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Good one, BG. Plastics--a blast from the past.

-------------------------------
@sold2u,

Oracle is a microcosm of the NASD. I'll bet the surprises will be to the upside. Lots of money on the sidelines, as you say. I think we will be challenging those all time highs.

Then, the poor retail investor, who was shook out of this market more than a year ago, will be loading up on stocks at any price with both hands. It's sad how this same story keeps playing out time and again.

I ride out the lows because I've learned. And sell into rallies (although that's harder).

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

How about Intel? Trading at 9x this year's EPS with a div yield of 3.3% Why anyone would be sitting in Treasuries at this point is beyond me...

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 5:08 PM
===========================================

Not to be a gloomy Gus, but over time I've seen disagreements between the bond and equity markets over the economy's direction most often resolved in the favor of the bond market.

We need to put people back to work. The GOP doesn't want to see that happen, because this would keep them from returning to power.

And the Democrats are too conflicted by the near-GOOPers in their own party and fear of criticism from the corporate press to get it done.
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | October 5, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@ITTDGY

Risk free rates are very low and indicate fear and anticipation of further QE by the Fed. IMO.

Credit spreads on the other hand are getting tighter, indicating the fear is dissipating.

Conflicting signals, of course. I am hoping this nightmare is finally over.

FWIW, I was reading "The trouble with Prosperity" by James Grant and he starts out talking about the bond bubble that burst in the late 50s. Long term rates were driven to bubble-like lows because retail investors were leveraging the long bond and "arbitraging" the yield curve. This almost killed the insurance industry and pension funds as they couldn't earn enough on their assets to keep pace with their liabilities.

It does indicate you can have an economic expansion with declining interest rates (admittedly there were other factors coming into play there)

It also goes to show that in the physical sciences, knowledge is cumulative, but in the financial markets, it is cyclical. The offspring of the generation that inflated a debt-induced stock market bubble inflated a debt-induced bond bubble. Of course their kids inflated a stock market bubble and a real estate bubble. Plus ca change....

Posted by: sold2u | October 5, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see a study comparing how much time the media as a whole has spent covering the Tea Party and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and her progeny and their boyfriends and on and on and on......

....versus how much time the media has spent reporting on the historic accomplishments of this Congress.

We might just have another very viable reason for the numbers in this poll. It's true that Democrats don't much watch the 24 hour propaganda wing of the Republican Party, but the rest of the media seems to get caught up in either having to refute Fox's false narrative or they blandly follow along because that's what is "hot" at the moment. Not to mention the times that some reputable media outlet has decided they need to do an extensive article on someone like Glenn Beck or Andrew Breitbart.

Historic achievements of this Congress, you say? That's just not sexy enough or outrageous enough to hit the airwaves very often in today's crazy media world.

Posted by: elscott | October 5, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/happy_hour_roundup_102.html

Posted by: sargegreg | October 5, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

"I sense a turnaround as well. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but things seem to be improving. Don't think it makes any difference for 2010, but I think it saves Obama in 2012."

It takes a lot to smother the economy for six years.

But I hear no indication from business leaders that they expect employment and revenue growth soon.

Posted by: quarterback1 | October 5, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"Only one third of Democrats see this Congress' achievements as historic"
---------------------------------------------

Not for nothing, but it ~could~ have something to do with the fact that half the left-wing blogosphere... oh f*** it, ~all~ of the left-wing blogosphere has spent most of the last two years sullenly belittling those very same achievements, incessantly running down Democrats as supposedly "spineless" and mercenary and generally sulking about the ponies not being pretty enough or some damned thing. Don't you think?

Posted by: CalD | October 6, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

A big part of the problem is the media...you know, that "liberal media" that is owned by, employs and reflects the concerns of rich people. But beyond that, Bush's changes were easy to see: he went to war for starters. And finally, there's the fact that Obama has continued a lot of Bush's surveillance state activity. It's kind of hard to get all excited about a president who claims the right to assassinate American citizens, and doesn't lift a finger when our "ally" Israel kills an American in an act of piracy on the high seas.

Posted by: kstack | October 6, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Here's my take on this. The unions didn't get card check. The gay community got nothing. The Hispanics got nothing, no immigration reform. Liberals got slapped around, no public option, no end to the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest. We did get health care reform, but many see it as a sop to the industry. And it mainly helps the 30 million uninsured who don't vote much anyway. Seniors still think that their Medicare was stolen. But we also watched how the Republicans ran circles around the Democrats in terms of floor time, votes, judicial and other confirmations. All in all, after 14 years without power, the Democrats didn't really seem to take advantage of their huge majorities and the Presidency.

Posted by: JimHannan | October 6, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's my take on this. The unions got nothing, no card check. The gay community got nothing. The Hispanic community got nothing, no immigration reform. The liberals got slapped around, no public option, no end to the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Health care reform is widely viewed as a payoff to the industry. The 30 million new insured don't vote much and aren't part of the progressive community. The seniors still think that their Medicare was stolen. But mostly, I think that Democrats watched the House and Senate leadership get beaten continually by the Republicans in terms of floor votes, confirmation of judicial and other appointments, and other delaying tactics. One would have thought that after 14 years in the wilderness, the Democrats would have been better equipped to get through a lot of major legislation. I think this poll is pretty accurate.

Posted by: JimHannan | October 6, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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