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April 01, 2010


Don't underestimate the ability of Congressional Democrats to capture the public imagination by raising new and important issues.

This post is clear and convincing, with conclusions solidly supported by charts and studies, with a single exception: "the negative press and opposition party criticism faced by Democrats have apparently taken their toll." Brendan offers no evidence as to whether the Dems became less popular due to negative press and Rep criticism. He's honorable enough to include the word "evidently", which has its usual, paradoxical meaning of "without evidence". But, why include that comment at all?

First of all, Reps criticized Dems while they were popular, so Rep critcism is unlikely to be the reason for the Dems' drop in popularity. IMHO most of the press remains in the Dem camp, although less so than during the election. That could be a partial cause.

Of course, the obvious cause of the Dems' drop in popularity is bad governance. Brendan's comment looks like a disclaimer that he is not accusing the Dems of governing badly.

Maybe Brendan has to include that disclaimer to remain a member in good standing of the liberal camp. Without it, his noting of the Dems' drop in popularity might be taken as an implication that they have governed badly. Can't have that!


I am confused, first what is 'bad governance'? Is it a split within their own party? An inability to pass legislation? All of the above? Democrats were more split before the 1994 midterm elections due to the southern democrats. Dems also had a very difficult time passing the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and they held the house throughout this period. Perhaps bad governance is referring to something else?

Myself, I think the biggest threat to Democrats popularity and subsequently the 2010 elctionis from 2008 is the economy and overachievement

JP, here's a quick, partial list of what I see as Dem bad governance. You may disagree with me, but polls show that large numbers of Americans disapprove of the listed acts. That's why I think the misgovernance is arguably the main cause of the Dems' drop in popularity.

-- Stimulus bill spent money too slowly and gave money to Dems' friends, rather than shovel-ready projects, so it failed to provide good stimulus
-- Bad economic policy increased unemployment rate. (Obama said his bill would prevent 9% unemployment; instead we saw 10%.)
-- Corruptly giving ownership of GM to auto workers union, a junior bondholder, rather than to the senior bondholders. Messing around with bankruptcy law like this discouraged lending, since lenders were unsure whether the rules would be followed.
-- Health bill that most think is a badly written law
-- Bad means of passing health bill, involving gifts to special interests such as Louisiana & Indiana and legislative tricks
-- Wasteful spending resulting in projected annual deficits over a trillion dollars for the next 10 years
-- Opposite of promised transparancy. Not only did we not see bills written, we weren't even told what they said until after they became law.
-- Failure to take strong actions against those Dems who appear to have acted corruptly.

Nothing to see here, folks, just move along: The Washington Post and New York Times still haven't gotten around to mentioning Rep. Hank Johnson's concern that Guam may capsize. (You can do a word search of their sites to confirm that.)

So yes, I'd say David's right that Democrats have no basis whatsoever to complain about negative press. If a Republican had said something one-tenth as stupid as what Johnson said, he'd have been pilloried by the Times, the Post and just about every other MSM outlet in the country, whereas Johnson is inside the cone of silence.

I would add that stimulus spending averaged
$692 per capita in Dem districts and $362 in Republican districts.
This supports my first point.

Also, I should specifically mention the Dems' failure to read the far-reaching health reform bill. Re-jiggering 1/6 of the economy without even reading the law that does this is indisputably bad governance.

BTW last week a cousin from Brooklyn told me he is a close friend of Kirk Adams, a labor organizer with the Service Employees International Union. My cousin said that Adams is the person who actually wrote the Health Reform bill. As a loyal Dem, my cousin was embarassed tomake this admission.

The economy grew at a 5.6% rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, and is estimated to have grown 2.8% in the first quarter of 2010. So, by one measure of recessions, this one has probably ended.

Industrial capacity utilization has increased in seven of the last eight months, and the only month without an increase was October (which was unchanged from the prior month).

Consumer spending increased for each of the past five months (through February, the latest month available).

The stock market is up 73% from its low just over a year ago.

I don't think unemployment is going to shrink drastically in a short period, but I expect consumer confidence will improve some over the next six or seven months - certainly it will over the next 2 1/2 years.

But I don't see that the Republicans are going to try to achieve anything over that time period - even following the November election this Fall - except to spread negative rhetoric. It would be entertaining if it weren't so pathetic.

Republicans will probably pick up some seats, but they probably will be the empty headed Sarah Palin types. The Republican party is so down it's like a slow Oscar year when mediocre films get nominated. So I predict some extremists will get elected, not moderates.

This could really backfire two years from now when the Republican version of Hank Johnson, bolstered by election wins, start saying ridiculous things themselves. By the way, Rob, Johnson was ridiculed on the front page of the Huffington Post. Few people defended him. Referring to old media when it's dying is passe.

The USA Today Graphic is way misleading. Yeah, economic confidence is low, but it hasn't been dropping. Gallup shows that economic Confidence increased spring/summer of 2009 and has been flat since then. So while it's low and that may hurt Democrats, there hasn't been any recent drops to make it worse for them.

Some related interesting poll results that seem to coorespond with the first graph above, i.e. Dem and GOP have low ratings:


"Americans Very Unhappy with Congress

A new Gallup Poll finds a record-low 28% of American voters say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

"The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election."

It looks like all incumbents are in trouble.

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