Backlash

The only positive thing to come out of the Tea Party, its John Birch Society Roots and funding sources, and its election of right wing reactionaries is the amount of backlash that is coming as a result of imposing their extremist policies.  Their agenda is obvious. Many of the states that are suffering at the hands of governors and legislators that are more interested in ideology than solutions for their state’s problems are looking at recalls. It seems there’s a huge amount of blow-back now.  Just check out some of these polls.

Public Policy Polling reports on “brutal numbers” for Ohio’s John Kasich.  Not only do independents and nonunion households support a recall of his collective-bargaining killing bill, they don’t support him. They want him gone.

Ohio Senate Bill 5 may not be in effect for very long…54% of voters in the state say they’d repeal it in an election later this year while just 31% say they’d vote to let the bill stand.

The support for repealing SB 5 is reflective of a high level of support for unions and workers in Ohio, more so than we saw in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. 63% of voters in the state supportive collective bargaining for public employees to only 29% who oppose it. 52% of voters think public employees should have the right to strike, to 42% who think they should not. And 65% think public employees should have the same rights they do now- or more- while only 32% believe they should have fewer rights.

There are two things particularly notable in the crosstabs on all of these questions. The first is that non-union households are supportive of the public employees. 54% support their collective bargaining rights to 36% in opposition and 44% say they would vote to repeal SB 5 to 38% who would let it stand. Obviously that level of support is not nearly as high as among union households but it still shows that the workers have even most of the non-union public behind them.

The other thing that’s worth noting is the independents. A lot of attention has been given to the way what’s been going on in Ohio and Wisconsin is galvanizing the Democratic base, but it’s also turning independents who were strongly supportive of the GOP in the Midwest last year back against the party. 62% of independents support collective bargaining for public employees to 32% opposed and 53% support repeal of SB 5 to 32% who would let it stand.

All of this is having an absolutely brutal effect on John Kasich’s numbers. We find him with just a 35% approval rating and 54% of voters disapproving of him. His approval with people who voted for him is already all the way down to 71%, while he’s won over just 5% of folks who report having voted for Ted Strickland last fall. Particularly concerning for him is a 33/54 spread with independents.

The site calls this “significant buyer’s remorse”.  This is the pollster for DKos that has polled on the Wisconsin effort to recall at least 8 Republican State Senators.

Three Republican incumbents actually trail “generic Dem”: Luther Olsen, Randy Hopper, and Dan Kapanke. Two more have very narrow leads and garner less than 50% support: Rob Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf. And one more, Alberta Darling, holds a clear lead but is still potentially vulnerable. (Two recall-eligible senators, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, sit in extremely red districts and look to have safe leads.) These numbers suggest we have a chance to make five and possibly six recall races highly competitive.

David Weigel–now of Slate--reports on similar trends for Rick Scott and Scott Walker. Rasmussen has Governor Walker hanging in there with a 43% approval rating.  It’s interesting when you get the same results  from a less liberal-affiliated polling company.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his job last November with 52% of the vote, but his popularity has slipped since then.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters finds that just 34% Strongly Approve of the job he is doing, while 48% Strongly Disapprove. Overall, including those who somewhat approve or disapprove, the new Republican governor earns positive reviews from 43% and negative reviews from 57% of voters statewide.

In addition to the usual partisan and demographic breakdowns, it’s interesting to note that Walker, now engaged in a budget battle with unionized state workers, receives a total approval rating of 46% from households with private sector union members. However, among households with a public sector union member, only 19% offer their approval. Among all other households in the state, opinion is nearly evenly divided—49% favorable and 51% unfavorable.

It’s also interesting to note that among households with children in the public school system, only 32% approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who Strongly Disapprove.

Wiegel writes that Democratic strategist believe the blowback will have signficant positive effects for the re-election of Obama come 2012.

I was talking the other day to a Democrat who’d been battle-scarred by the 2010 Florida campaign, in which Democrats lost everything. Everything. Alan Grayson’s career died quickly. Kendrick Meek became a trivia question. One of the people Palin endorsed, Pam Bondi, actually won. And Rick Scott pipped Alex Sink, the most talented statewide Democratic candidate since Lawton Chiles, to become governor.

This Democrat’s spin was that Sink’s loss wasn’t so bad after all. Scott was pissing off too many people — the Orlando-Tampa train he’d killed was popular — and Democrats could win back independents in 2012, saving the state for Barack Obama.

Further evidence of the extremist elements in both the Tea Party and the current incarnation of the Republican party show up in other polls.  A CNN poll shows that most people do not want the government shut down over budget issues.  The folks that object are basically tea party-affiliated.

Nearly six in ten people questioned in the poll say that it would be a bad thing for the government to shut down for a few days because Congress did not pass a new spending bill, with 36 percent saying it would be a good thing for the country. And if a government shutdown lasted a few weeks, that figure would rise to 73 percent.

“But Republicans think a shut down that lasts a few days would be a good thing. And a majority of Tea Party supporters approve of a shutdown even if it lasts several weeks,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “That puts pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders to take a step which might hurt their standing with independents as well as some Republicans.”

The survey indicates wide partisan differences on the issue, with only 21 percent of Democrats saying a shutdown for a few days would be a good thing. That figure rises to 35 percent for independent voters, 53 percent for Republicans, and 62 percent for Tea Party supporters.

Couple this with a Gallup poll that shows that Huckabee and Bachmann have the most intense followers in the field of GOP presidential wannabes. There is definitely a crazy side to the Republican Party and it’s showing signs of taking the party into extreme positions supported by very few Americans. I personally can’t imagine voting for either of this people for dog catcher let alone president.  I don’t think they’re qualified to flip hamburgers, frankly.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads the field of possible GOP presidential candidates in “positive intensity” among Republicans nationwide with a score of +25 among Republicans who are familiar with him, followed by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with a score of +20. Huckabee is recognized by 87% of Republicans, compared with Bachmann’s 52%. A number of other possible Republican presidential candidates trail these two in Positive Intensity Scores, including Sarah Palin, who is the best known of the group.

With these kinds of people rising to the top in party politics of one of the major parties, it’s no wonder we also have an ABC News-WAPO poll that shows Americans are not very confident in their system of government.

Only 26 percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’re optimistic about “our system of government and how well it works,” down 7 points since October to the fewest in surveys dating to 1974. Almost as many, 23 percent, are pessimistic, the closest these measures ever have come. The rest, a record high, are “uncertain” about the system.

The causes are many. Despite a significant advance, more than half still say the economy has not yet begun to recover. And there’s trouble at the pump: Seventy-one percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, report financial hardship as a result of rising gas prices. Forty-four percent call it a “serious” hardship.

People are desperately unhappy with the results of the two party system.  It doesn’t even appear that voting for party gridlock works much any more.   The Republican notion of big government is a white daddy government that restricts women’s rights, worker’s rights, and transfers wealth to the already rich and powerful.  What exactly is the Democratic notion these days?  While this backlash will work to the benefit of the sitting President and the Democratic politicians, will they just ride the backlash or actually articulate and run on some kind of vision for a change?  Let me be more specific.  How about some actions that match those fancy speeches for a change?

We now seem stuck the worst features of the two party system   We try for gridlock but get bugfug crazy from the Republicans.  We try for social justice but the Democratic Party never seems to be able to coalesce around a vision or agenda that does much other than respond to Republicans by caving-in and playing up to party donors.  I’m not sure that I see that changing much given we can’t even get this current President off his historical position of voting present.

The challenges that we’re facing today seem as severe as those we faced during the Bush years.  There’s a melt down in strongman governments in the MENA area, we’ve had two major energy-related disasters, and we’ve still got an economy that’s barely sustaining a recovery with high unemployment.  If there ever was time for leadership and vision from some corner of national politics, it would be now.  Voters keep turning the reigns of government over to the Dubyas, the Walkers, and the Kasichs because they can’t get what they want from Democrats.  They emerge from each party’s rule appalled.  It seems like some one reasonable could take advantage of that situation.  Why do I feel that the Democratic Party will just blow this opportunity away too?