I know, I know: the polls are looking very good for President Obama, and very bad for congressional Republicans. Bloomberg:
President Barack Obama enters the latest budget showdown with Congress with his highest job- approval rating in three years and public support for his economic message, while his Republican opponents' popularity stands at a record low.USA Today/Pew:
Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance in office, his strongest level of support since September 2009, according to a Bloomberg National poll conducted Feb. 15-18. Only 35 percent of the country has a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest rating in a survey that began in September 2009. The party’s brand slipped six percentage points in the last six months, the poll shows....
President Obama starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders on issues from guns to immigration that are likely to dominate the year, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds. On the legislation rated most urgent -- cutting the budget deficit -- even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama's approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts.And yet just today, Representative Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said an immigration plan with a path to citizenship is a nonstarter. Republicans have also made clear that a plan to head off the sequester that involves any tax increases whatsoever is a nonstarter. A minimum wage hike? Also a nonstarter. Meaningful gun legislation at the federal level? So unlikely that the president, in his State of the Union address, begged Congress just to vote on it. And on and on.
... those surveyed say by narrow margins that Obama has a better approach than congressional Republicans for dealing with the deficit and guns. By double digits, they favor his plans on immigration and climate change, including limits on emissions from power plants.
The president's overall job approval rating is 51%, a bit higher than it typically has been for the past three years. The approval rating for Republican congressional leaders is a dismal 25%....
By almost 3-to-1, 71%-26%, those surveyed favor Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour from the current $7.25....
The entire country is now just like the U.S. Senate: The Republican minority imposes its will, and the majority, under the current rules, can't do a damn thing about it. Gerrymandering of House districts guarantees that there'll never be serious electoral consequences for Republicans when they defy the will of the majority; that plus the literal filibuster in the Senate means that there's no incentive whatsoever for Republicans to be responsive to the American people.
Conn Carroll of The Washington Examiner said it outright yesterday, in response to an article suggesting that Republicans were taking a risk by preventing a sequester deal:
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake believe that Congress won’t win a sequester showdown with President Obama. They explain, in three bullet points:Yup, they are, until we find a way to make them pay at the ballot box for what they're doing with impunity right now.
1. Regular people have no idea what the sequester is right now and, even once it kicks in, aren’t likely to pay all that close of attention to it unless they are directly affected by it.All three bullet items are true. Unfortunately for Cillizza, Blake, and Obama, items two and three are also irrelevant. Obama may be popular with the American public writ large ... , but he is not popular in red states or red congressional districts. Americans may hate Congress, but they love their congressmen.
2. Obama is popular with the American public
3. Congress is not.
And since there are fewer swing districts than ever, Republican House members fear a primary from the right far more than Obama's popularity.
... Republicans [are] very well positioned....