Wednesday, October 04, 2023


The Republican Party, at least in the House, may be "a failed state" (in the words of John Harris) or a "clown car" (Michelle Cottle), and the party's presidential candidate might be facing multiple civil and criminal trials, but it appears that that's not what ordinary Americans think about when they think about the GOP:
... the public chooses the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by healthy margins when asked which will better safeguard the nation’s prosperity and security.

* Fifty-three percent of Americans believe the Republican Party will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous over the next few years, whereas 39% choose the Democratic Party.

* A slightly larger majority, 57%, have greater faith in the Republican Party to protect the country from international terrorism and military threats, while 35% favor the Democrats.

The latest results are from a Sept. 1-23 Gallup poll in which ... close to six in 10 disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance, and nearly three-quarters feel pessimistic about the direction of the economy.

Republicans’ 14-percentage-point lead in public preferences for keeping the country prosperous is up from a 10-point margin last year and is its widest advantage on this measure since mid-1991....

The GOP’s current standing with Americans is even stronger on matters of national security, where it leads the Democratic Party by 22 points for protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats.

The Republican Party has led on this measure in all but two readings in the trend originating in 2002, but today’s margin is one of the widest in that more limited stretch of time.
Voters are unhappy with the state of America. Beltway insiders and politcs mavens think voters will care about which party is doing a better job of preserving democracy and managing democratic institutions, but all that appears to matter less to voters than the price of gasoline. And Democrats are hobbled by the fact that neither the president nor the vice president seems capable of inspiring confidence through words that suggest a steady hand on the tiller. That was the advantage that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had at similar moments of public uncertainty: that they could sound as if they understood the problems and were on top of them. Neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris seems able to do that, and no one in the administration seems to realize that it's necessary.

The Gallup poll didn't ask about other issues that concern Americans -- abortion, censorship, book banning, climate change, gun violence. Voters care about these issues as well, and Democrats have done well in elections when they were at the forefront.

But voters might not care about GOP dysfunction unless the consequences of it directly affect them. Also, voters might blame the entire system if Republicans can't govern, because they see Democrats as the party that's mostly in charge. A new speaker (or a speakerless House) might mean a government shutdown when the stopgap bill expires, but remember that the 2013 government shutdown, which was the GOP's fault, didn't help Democrats in the 2014 midterms, -- that year, Democrats were shellacked. So it's fun to watch Republicans stumble around, but we don't have evidence that the public cares.

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