Most voters like candidates who’ll take a stand and stick to it, according to a recent survey of voters, which may go a long way toward explaining the lackluster performance of the donkey party both while running for office and once there.
In today’s political environment, Republicans have seized hold of the legislative process by their intransigence, while Democrats stumble along, failing to pass national legislation while allowing the Republicans to stall votes and force compromise.
Republican voters and self-style independents identify with uncompromising candidates, folks who take a stand and stick by it, and they get what they vote for. And given the state of the day, Democrats would do well to heed the message.
The findings make sense: Folks are drawn by nature to looking for leadership in troubling times, and one of the characteristics of the leaders they seek is certainty. In today’s immediate and pressing crisis, voters are likely to be drawn to candidates who claim solutions and demonstrate an uncompromising willingness to fight for them.
The only folks demonstrating such certainty seem to be Republicans, and while the Democrats may offer somewhat better solutions, their apparent unwillingness to fight leaves voters lukewarm.
Major Garrett of the National Journal’s Congressional Connection reports on the findings:
Nearly half of America — including nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 53 percent of independents — admires political leaders who refuse to compromise. This is further evidence that the current political atmosphere is not merely contentious, but hostile to any hope of negotiated settlements to the many political and policy differences that define the current landscape.
In essence, the Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center, suggests a confrontational mood in the country that may mirror the partisan wrangling in Washington and might even give trumped-up cable TV’s political spout-fests some rationale for their vein-popping intensity.
The survey found 49 percent of all respondents “admire political leaders who stick to their positions without compromising.” The survey also found that just 42 percent “admire political leaders who make compromises with people they disagree with.”
The poll, which surveyed 1,005 adults across the country by landline or cell phone, was conducted last Thursday through Sunday and has a 4-point error margin for the overall sample, with a higher error margin for subgroups. On the compromise question, whites matched the 49-42 percent split, while blacks, by 53-35 percent, favored politicians who did not compromise. Sixty-two percent of Republicans said they favored non-compromising politicians compared to 54 percent of Democrats who backed compromisers. Independents sided with non-compromisers, 53-40 percent.
The results show that Republicans have drawn even on the economy and Social Security while regaining their historic edge on taxes.
White women favor the GOP 37-32 percent. Among more highly educated whites, men with college degrees back the Republicans 59-29 percent — a whopping 30-point differential over Democrats. White women with college degrees support both parties equally, 38 percent for each.
On taxes, 40 percent backed Republicans on that issue, compared to 34 percent for Democrats. The GOP number is the highest in survey history since September of 1998. More startling for Democrats, the 34 percent backing on taxes is the lowest since October of 1994, one month before the party lost control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. On this question — as with the management of the economy — Democrats can lament a similarly stark erosion of fortunes from February 2008. Back then, they enjoyed a 49-37 percent advantage over Republicans.
Most disturbing for Democrats, the 35 percent number is their
lowest survey performance dating back to May of 1990. In the 12 previous Pew surveys where this question has been posed, Democrats enjoyed an average advantage over Republicans of almost 10 percentage points.
Men and women diverged somewhat sharply on the question with men favoring Republicans 39-34 percent and women backing Democrats 36-30 percent.
Whites sided with the GOP 40-30 percent while blacks gave Democrats a massive 52-21 percent advantage. Among older people surveyed, 36 percent of those aged 50-64 had more confidence in Democrats, while 34 percent said that about Republicans. Thirty-seven percent of those people 65 and older preferred Republican, while 34 percent preferred Democrats on Social Security.
Higher wage earners tended to favor the GOP. Those earning more than $75,000 backed the GOP, 41-34 percent. Those earning between $30,000 and $74,999 divided equally between the parties at 37 percent each, while those earning less than $30,000 preferred the Democrats’ approach, 37-28 percent.
The real message of the poll is that Republicans have a coherent message, fight for it, keep on target, and thus win voters. Democrats have an ambiguous message, and with few exceptions, are all too willing to compromise.
The Democrats should be winning on the issues, but the Republican’s coherent, consistent message on issues like tax cuts overwhelms the milquetoast ramblings of the Democrats.
On taxes, the Democrats should be winning hands down. Just tell voters that the rich are stealing the country blind and shifting the burdens onto everybody else. Point out that the wealth disparity has never been as great in this country during the last 100 years — when it peaked just as the Great Depression started.
But then the banksters gave more money to Obama than McCain, didn’t they?
Here in California Jerry Brown runs for governor, framing himself as an old guy who’s now willing to compromise. Instead he should be yelling: “Meg Whitman is a former Goldman Sachs board member and the damned company has given half a million to her campaign. Is that who we want running California?”
But, no, Jerry’s ads paint him as an aging pol who’s willing to compromise “at this point in my life.”
Sheesh. Pass the barf bag.