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No mandate for GOP rule?

By Greg Sargent

The new CNN poll finds that a huge majority of Americans think the midterm shellacking of Dems was not a mandate for Republicans:

As you know, as a result of the election which was held earlier this month, the Republicans will control the U.S. House of Representatives. Do you think the Republican victories in the House races are more of a mandate for Republican policies or more a rejection of Democratic policies?

Mandate for Republicans 17%

Rejection of Democrats 70%

The poll also finds that only a third, 33 percent, think the GOP will do a better job of running Congress, with 65 percent saying they will do worse or make no difference.

And yet: Paradoxically enough, the poll also finds that 52 percent say GOP rule will be "good for the country."

I guess Dems can look at these numbers and take solace in the fact that the elections show no mandate whatsoever for GOP ideas and rule. On the other hand, Republicans can read these numbers and conclude that they show a very strong mandate for continued obstruction of Obama's agenda.

Which may explain why Republicans like John Boehner keep saying things like this: "We must remember it's the president who sets the agenda for our government." They need to keep it all about Obama. Not as easy when you're in the majority.

By Greg Sargent  | November 15, 2010; 1:54 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, House GOPers  
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Next: Round one to Jim DeMint as Mitch McConnell flip-flops on earmark ban


Heh, I've been talking about this to others and I always hear about the 'enthusiasm gap' from contrarians, as if that phrase translated to an affirmation of the Republican agenda. Glad to see the numbers.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 15, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The mid term result was all about Barak Obama, who promised to change how business was done in Washington. He should have at least tried.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 15, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"The mid term result was all about Barak Obama"

No it wasn't. It was mostly about the economy. If it were all about Obama then Obama's poll numbers would be in worse shape than Clinton and Reagan's at this time in their first terms, it isn't.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

What I find interesting is the degree to which the public seems to be rejecting Democratic programs (6) and their view that the Democratic Party has become too liberal (9).

This doesn't seem to jibe with Greg's seeming contention that Obama and the Dem congress should be listening to the liberal base.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Rejection of Democrats 70%"

Every time I vote for a Republican (pretty much), I'd be in that column. Nothing new for me. Depending on how the question is asked, I don't know that I'd say GOP rule, in an of itself, will be good for the country. But if that's what it took to cycle a lot of those incumbents out, then . . . better than having not done it, I suppose.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

It is nice to see that mr Sargent and CNN have kept their iron grip on the obvious. This should stand them in good stead as they seek to explain American politics to themselves.

I've been making virtually the same point for a while now. This wasn't an election FOR Republicans, it was a vote AGAINST Democrats.

It bears repeating: The Republicans were fired. Disgust with the old boys spending like Democrats cost the Republicans their majority on 06. The smart ones understood this.

Democrats, who of late have demonstrated an iron grip on denial, misread their victory in 06 and 08 solely as support for their agenda. It was also a vote AGAINST the spendthrift Republicans.

I suspect that the Republican response will be:
(1) An inside baseball fight about ear marks. Both sides of this debate will be anti Obama and both with tout thrift as a virtue.
(2) Gridlock. I view this as a half measure. Gridlock means no new Obama agenda items, such as cap and tax. But it also means that the congress cannot muster enough votes to curb the abuses of the regulatory aparatchiks currently running wild in DC. A simple vote stating that carbon isn't a pollutant would send a huge message. That won't happen
(3) Symbolic, electioneering votes. Both sides will try to force votes that they can use in ensuing campaigns. In viewing the vicious smears the Democrats used this time out it is hard to predict what will become election campaign fodder.

Meanwhile the action will shift to a venue that is far beneath Mr Sargent's journ o list radar: state houses. The shift to Republicans will mean some interesting new laws and some intense debates about re districting. Look for more state sponsored obstruction of the Obama style centralized government.

As an example there was talk last week of several states opting out of Medicaid. It is a radical move, but it is completely legal and would cause a huge ripple through our various levels of government. I hope for more such ripples over the next two years.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@skip: "Disgust with the old boys spending like Democrats cost the Republicans their majority on 06."

I don't think that's really true. Folks voted against Republicans in '06 to show disapproval for Bush (see question 6 in the poll). That's the difference this time. Sure, we don't like Obama now, but not to the extent that we hated Bush then. Now we really dislike the Democratic Party programs much worse than the GOP programs in 2006.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The Americn people have been led over a cliff by George W. Bush's failed and disastrous policies! We are in the ditch trying to climb out. It will take a long time; and it will take the principals of sharing and cooperation, not selfishness and greed to take us to higher, more principaled ground --, and, more importantly, it will take all thinking people of goodwill and who want better human condtions to do their part also.

The eyes are the windows to the Soul and even though Bush says one thing, his eyes say another. He looks haunted and weary; he probably does not sleep at night due to his conscience he tries to run from. He, Bush, destroyed this country in countless of ways that borders on criminal. That is his Legacy, and unfortunately for Americans we see it and so can he. Two wars, one legal and one not! Squandred a trillion dollar surplus to pay for this illegal war; outsourced jobs and outsourced real estate mortgages to China and India in such a way ( No Regulations) that no one really knows who owns these toxic mortgages; outed a CIA agent; illegal wire tapping and illegal torture; allowed millions of undocumented workers in to this country so his corporate buddies could have cheap labor which further destoryed our wages and workforce. Left no child behind policy and more children were left behind than ever. Brought our economic system to the brink of disaster right before he and Cheney rode off in the sunset to dump it on and subsequently blame it on the Democrats. Oh and we must not forget 9-11; all of this on George W's watch! Funny some claim to be Christians and act like devils; some Act like Christians and rarely invoke God's name in public.

Nancy Pelosi amidst much critisism from the right, passed much legislation on her watch, but this legislation could not pass in the Senate due to GOP stonewalling and saying No -- helpful legislation which would have put people back to work, created jobs through infra structure projects; true healthcare reform with a public option, education initatives were unable to pass. Nancy was a champion in her House, too bad it takes the other house too, to get anything done.

Republicans Not for you!

Posted by: wdsoulplane | November 15, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

@skip: "Disgust with the old boys spending like Democrats cost the Republicans their majority on 06."

I don't think that's really true.
Not to mention that voters would have to be rather stupid to elect Democrats because they were unhappy with Republicans for acting like....Democrats. It doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 15, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

sbj3, I understand your point but I'm not at all sure I agree. It was, I believe, Kevin McCarthy who, during the pledge announcement, noted that the Republicans had been fired.

there were decisions that Bush made with which I disagreed, but I never hated him. In fact I suspect that history will be kind to him. After all many of his policies that the left whined so much about, carry on even today.

Have we closed Gitmo? Think KSM will even get a "trial"? Heard about the Patriot Act being repealed or ignored? and on and on.

To me, and many of the folks I connect with in my state, it was the spending and the fecklessness of teh Republicans that lead to disenchanment.

the big problem for the Democrats is that their scorched earth policy is a boomerang. the no holds barred venomous hatred they relied upon is now the standard of behavior toward a president. Obama will suffer more indignities as irate Americans remember how the lefties behaved in their turn and use the same techniques.

for a perfect example of my point, just try to read wdsoulplane's whine o gram. Its dreadful. Not only is it nothing more than a regurgitation of liberal talking points, it is two years out of date.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

All, Jim DeMint wins a victory as Mitch McConnell flip flops on earmark ban:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 15, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I have a theory that says that many Americans wanted to see those responsible for the great failures of the recent past punished for their actions. For the decision to go to war, for the subsequent war crimes, for the near destruction of the world economy, for the failure to provide jobs for Americans and so on.
There was no punishment for those responsible, only for those whose lives were turned upside down, who face financial ruin, who lost loved ones, who have to take their clothes off to fly in a plane (is this required when flying in a private corporate jet?).
And so those who were in a position to mete out punishment have now themselves been punished for not providing Americans with the justice that they so eagerly needed to start to bring closure to a very dark period in our nation's history.

Posted by: mikemfr | November 15, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse


McConnell just caved on the earmark moratorium. Demint wins.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

come now ashot. I had hoped that you'd be smarter than this:
Not to mention that voters would have to be rather stupid to elect Democrats because they were unhappy with Republicans for acting like....Democrats. It doesn't make any sense.

voters don't have to vote FOR the opponent. All they must do is not vote at all. DeWine lost to that moron Sherrod Brown in just such a manner.

The Democrats faced the same problem just recently. While some who voted Democrat in 08 changed sides, the larger impact, IMHO was that Dems didn't come to the polls at all.

In a two party system we don't have to vote to have an impact. And yes it is a problem for conservatives. if we don't appreciate the way Republicans behave when they get to DC our options are limited. Our disgust with the 06 thru 10 republicans got us the mess we're in today. Instead of fiscal sanity brought to us by the class of '94 we got DC power plays from guys and girls that should have known better.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

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