1994 on Steroids

CBS News/New York Times Poll today indicates that it is a widely held belief that government is not responsive to the will of the people, special interests have too much influence and small government is better than a big government.  This poll shows that the Tea Party movement is merely the public face of a majority of American’s concerns.  The shocking upset win of Scott Brown in Massachusetts and this poll, point to the proposition that Democrats may be the victim of voter rage this fall if these poll numbers don’t move. 

The latest CBS News/New York Times Poll finds most Americans are now dissatisfied or even angry with government — and much of that frustration is directed at Congress, which now receives just a 15% approval rating.  Levels of distrust and cynicism about government are at or near 15-year highs.

The American people are not happy with the direction of the federal government and this unhappiness has taken the form of anger.  A dangerous number for Democrats is that only 24% of independents are enthusiastic or satisfied with the way things are going in Washington versus 73% who are dissatisfied or angry.  Independent voters recently won statewide elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.  If these independents rebel against Democrats in the general election this fall, then there is the possibility of 1994 on steroids and for a Republican takeover of the Congress.

Most Americans (70%) are dissatisfied or angry about the way things are going in Washington these days.  Discontent cuts across party lines, although more Repubicans and independents than Democrats express anger at Washington.

Congress has had a low approval rating for years, yet the sustained anger at Congress should have incumbent Republicans and Democrats worried.  According to the poll 81% of Americans want new blood in Congress.  The low Congressional job approval rating set a record for the highest ever in a CBS News/New York Times Poll

Congress’ job approval is now at 15% — down 8 points from last month and approaching the record lows reached in the fall of 2008, shortly before Barack Obama was elected President.

When asked if “most members of Congress deserved re-election,” only 8% said yes and 81% said no.  This is terrible news for incumbents in a general election and in primaries.  There are a handful of elected officials in primaries right now and they should be terrified by these numbers.  The numbers for President Obama are not bad, but these numbers are not translating into support for Democrat candidates or policies.  For example, the President is perveived as trying to work with Republicans (62% yes – 32%) and Republicans are viewed as not wanting to work with the President (29% yes – 62% no).  The President’s approval rating is still low (46%), but not as low as Congress.

On the issues, the American people approve (42%) and disapprove (52%) of the President’s handling of the economy.  They approve (31%) and disapprove (58%) of the President’s handling of the budget deficit.  Although the President has talked about a “spending freeze,” people may be seeing the high price tag of ObamaCare and the projected $1.3 trillion deficit for next year as evidence that the President is not serious about cutting spending.  The biggest danger sign for the Democrat Party is the voter’s views on the economy.  The voters tend to blame the party in power for economic woes, no matter if Democrat or Republican.  The American people were very upset with the economy in 2008 and Republicans were routed in the Presidential and Congressional elections.

Views of the economy remain pessimistic; 83% of Americans think it is in bad shape, and less than a quarter sees improvement on the horizon.

This poll indicated that “the year-long effort to pass health care reform has also taken a toll,” and may be harming his numbers on the economy.  It seems there is a perception that Democrats are so intent on passing ObamaCare that they have spent not enough time on the economy.  The polls indicate that 52% think the President has spent too little time on the economy and 48% believe he has spent too much time on heath care (with 28% saying he has spend the right amount of time on health care).  The voters are buying the line from this Administration that President Bush is to blame for many of the economic and spending woes, but one would have to assume that, as time passes, the Blame Bush strategery (love that fake word) will diminish in effectiveness.

Although the President seems personally popular, the American people are losing faith in his leadership on domestic issues.  53% of Americans don’t think our nation can afford ObamaCare.

When it comes to job creation, just 6% say that the stimulus package has created jobs, but another 41% expect it will do so.  48% think it won’t.  These views have not changed much in recent months, but optimism about the impact of the stimulus package was much higher last summer.

The most fascinating aspect of this poll is the view of Americans on the proper role of the federal government.  Although they want more bank regulation, only 8% believe they have a “good deal” of say in what the government does.  That is sad testament.  In a representative democracy those numbers should be higher.  

Americans express general cynicism about government, as well as a preference for a smaller one.  At 70%, the percentage of Americans who think they don’t have much say in what the government does is at its highest level since the CBS News Polls began asking the question in 1996.

A huge majority think the government is run by a “few big interests” (78%) and 56% v 34% want smaller government.  When asked if the person trusts the government to do what is right, the poll indicated that 3% said “Always,” 16% said “Most of the Time,” 74% said “Some of the Time,” and 7% said “Never.”  Not much trust here.  The left is doing Democrats no favors by attacking the Tea Party movement, because these numbers indicate that voters sympathize with the Tea Party sentiment. 

This poll indicates that the United States is a center/right nation.  The actions of Members of Congress on ObamaCare have given the American people the impression that politicians are more interested in passing this controversial legislation than addressing 9.7% unemployment numbers, attacking the $12.3 trillion in federal debt and working to address the economy.  It is only February, but these numbers may be one more shred of evidence that the Democrats may be the recipient of voter rage this November.  If so, we could see yet another handing over of legislative power from one party to another.