Wednesday, July 20, 2011


After the shellackings of 2006 and 2008, Republicans rebranded themselves as teabaggers, persuaded voters to regard them as a brand-new party that had nothing whatsoever to do with the party that destroyed everything it touched during the Bush years, and won big victories in 2010, aided tremendously by Democrats' conclusion that it would be ineffective, or maybe just not polite, to point out that this was the same damn party that brought you the Iraq War, the financial collapse, "Heck of a job, Brownie," and all the rest -- only worse this time.

Well, now we think the Republican Party is looking bad. We're being told that polls reveal a tremendous disconnect between congressional Republicans and voters, even many Republican voters, on how to handle the debt ceiling and the deficit.

So, um, this is going to drag Republicans down at the polls -- right?

Well, according to Public Policy Polling, not in the case of the presidential candidates:

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP's monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

... Everyone else we tested trails Obama by at least as much as John McCain's 2008 margin of defeat and in most cases more. Obama's up 7 on Michele Bachmann at 48-41, 9 against Tim Pawlenty at 48-39, 12 versus Herman Cain at 48-36, and as usual has his largest lead in a match up with Sarah Palin at 53-37.

Here's an important note on all of this early 2012 polling though: Obama's numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama's doing but aren't committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out. Here's an idea of where these various match ups might stand once all voters have made up their minds:

-In the Obama/Romney head to head 21% of undecideds approve of Obama and 61% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Romney would lead 52-48.

-In the Obama/Bachmann head to head 10% of undecideds approve of Obama and 67% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 51-49....

Following the same formula, Obama-Pawlenty is 50%-50%, Obama-Cain is 51%-49% (!), and Obama-Palin is 54%-46%.

So if you dig deeper into the numbers Obama's position is a lot worse than meets the eye. There's a very good chance Obama would lose if he had to stand for reelection today....

So the next "new" Republican Party -- the party of whoever the presidential candidate will be -- is apparently utterly untouched by any public discontent at intransigence by House teabaggers.


And is the debt-ceiling hostage crisis even hurting congressional Republicans? Apart from Rasmussen, no one's doing very much "generic ballot" polling for Congress right now, but if you believe that Rasmussen's polls are honest apart from a consistent pronounced right-wing bias (as I generally do), then I think it's significant that in Rasmussen's last poll, conducted July 11-17, Republicans were precisely where they've been since May in the majority of Rasmussen's polls -- 6 points ahead. That probably means they'd be close to even in an unbiased poll -- but why aren't they slipping badly? Why aren't voters angry at the whole damn party?

Well, Democrats rarely want to issue a blanket indictment. Even now, it's teabaggers vs. establishmentarians and House vs. Senate (and, presumably, Congress vs. presidential candidates, even though Bachmann and Paul are in the House).

So the GOP will rebrand itself again. And Obama is very, very vulnerable.

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