JONATHAN CHAIT APRIL 29, 2010
One of my shameful hobbies is watching the almost sensual pleasure taken by former Karl Rove aide Peter Wehner at the coming of the November elections. Yesterday brought an especially entertaining spasm of schadenfreude. Here's Wehner at 4:32 PM:
Yet More Bad Poll News For Obama
More troubling poll data for President Obama. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:
Public perceptions of two of the federal government’s most sweeping efforts to right the economy could be contributing to the pessimism. More than six-in-ten (62%) say the economic stimulus package enacted by Congress last year has not helped the job situation… Substantial majorities of Republicans (79%) and independents (69%) say that last year’s economic stimulus has not helped the job situation. Even among Democrats, opinions about the effectiveness of the stimulus are not overwhelmingly positive: 51% say it has helped the job situation while 42% say it has not.
President Obama would undoubtedly publicly ascribe this to a communications failure – and privately, one can imagine, he will blame the public for its ignorance of what a remarkable and historic piece of legislation the so-called stimulus package was. The fact that unemployment increased around 20 percent above what the administration had estimated should, of course, be ignored. It is an inconvenient fact for an administration that is, on so many different fronts, out of touch with reality. Elections have a way of correcting, or at least compensating for, such things.
Here's Wehner following up at 4:47 PM, or 15 minutes later:
November Is The Cruelest Month
Patrick Ruffini, in mulling over the November midterm elections, writes this:
All in all, I don’t think a 70 seat gain is out of the question.
Michael Barone’s comments on Ruffini’s analysis can be found here. Democrats should read this, and weep. The midterm elections may not be as bad as Ruffini predicts — but they will very, very bad. Virtually every bit of polling data points to an epic loss by Democrats.
Mr. Obama may indeed be a political miracle worker — but for Republicans, not Democrats.
Wehner managed to wait another 19 minutes before tearing off this one, at 5:06:
Unheeded Advice from William Galston
William Galston, a top aide of President Clinton, writes that while that public is concerned about the economy and jobs, “the [Democratic] leadership is moving toward, or backing into, months dominated by some combination of immigration and climate change — and of course there will also be a Supreme Court confirmation battle to fight. It is hard to believe that the people will respond favorably.” ...
When responsible Democrats like Professor Galston are concerned about a “rout of historic proportions,” you know how ominous things are becoming for Democrats. President Obama and the Democratic leadership would have been wise to follow Galston’s advice from the outset of the presidency (he warned a against a massive expansion of the federal government in a period when trust in the federal government was low). I rather doubt they will listen to him now. And they will pay quite a high price, perhaps historically high, for their extraordinary missteps.
At last, comeuppance for the hated Obama administration, and sweet vindication for George W. Bush! As it happens, I agree that Republicans are likely to make large gains in the election, with winning the House a probably outcome. Unlike Wehner, but like the entire political science field, I attribute this fact largely to the combination of a mid-term election and high unemployment rather than to the righteous reaction of a naturally conservative public against big-government liberalism.
For instance, the latest Washington Post poll shows that Democrats enjoy a double-digit edge over Republicans on handling the major issues. 53% of Americans say Obama's views on issues are "just about right," as opposed to 39% who say too liberal, and 5% who say too conservative. Asked which party they "trust more to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years," Americans pick the Democrats over the Republcians by a 46-32 margin. Which is to say, there's precious little evidence for Wehner's endless assertions that Obama's excessive liberalism is the source of the Democrats' troubles.
The paradox is that there's little doubt the public will punish the Democrats anyway. That's just what happens to incumbent parties facing structural conditions like those that currently pertain. This is not to say that Obama's agenda is uniformly popular -- far from it. But, rather, there's very little reason to credit the Republicans' coming political success with any political affinity, as opposed to benefiting by default as the out party.