Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stan Greenberg: The Politicians Are in Trouble

Stan Greenberg was recommended to me as "an honest Lefty" by a friend who is Conservative--and who knows his way around politics.

...In analyzing these polls in the United States, I see clearly that voters feel ever more estranged from government — and that they associate Democrats with government. If Democrats are going to be encumbered by that link, they need to change voters’ feelings about government. They can recite their good plans as a mantra and raise their voices as if they had not been heard, but voters will not listen to them if government is disreputable.

Oddly, many voters prefer the policies of Democrats to the policies of Republicans. They just don’t trust the Democrats to carry out those promises.

Here come the body-blows:

...Numerous recent polls have shown that the public sides with the president and Democrats on raising taxes to get to a balanced budget. But in smaller, more probing focus groups, voters show they are fairly cynical about Democratic politicians’ stands. They tune out the politicians’ fine speeches and plans...

This distrust of government and politicians is unfolding as a full-blown crisis of legitimacy sidelines Democrats and liberalism. Just a quarter of the country is optimistic about our system of government — the lowest since polls by ABC and others began asking this question in 1974. But a crisis of government legitimacy is a crisis of liberalism.

What emerges is a 'center-right populism':

...In our surveys and media work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, we found that only if people thought a candidate was going to change government in fundamental ways — starting with welfare and reinventing government — would they give permission to spend their money.

The same is true today. In our recent Web survey of 2,000 respondents, voters respond strongly to Democratic messages on the economy only when a party leader declares, “We have to start by changing Washington. ... The middle class won’t catch a break until we confront the power of money and the lobbyists.”

And that populism has no love for GWBush--nor for Obozo.

...That government and the elite appear blithely to promote globalization and economic integration, while the working population loses income, makes the frustration more intense.

Our research shows that the growth of self-identified conservatives began in the fall of 2008 with the Wall Street bailout, well before Mr. Obama embarked on his recovery and spending program. The public watched the elite and leaders of both parties rush to the rescue. The government saved irresponsible executives who bankrupted their own companies, hurt many people and threatened the welfare of the country. When Mr. Obama championed the bailout of the auto companies and allowed senior executives at bailed-out companies to take bonuses, voters concluded that he was part of the operating elite consensus. If you owned a small business that was in trouble or a home or pension that lost much of its value, you were on your own.

Greenberg has a number of suggestions for the (D) party; raising taxes, limiting campaign contributions, putting a "luxury tax" on large bonuses, and "comprehensive" immigration reform.

He also has this:

...progressives have to be serious about reducing the country’s long-term deficits, constraining special interest spending and tax breaks and making government accountable to the ordinary citizen. The deficit matters to people and has real meaning and consequences. A government that spends and borrows without the kind of limits that would govern an ordinary family is going to have big troubles. Voters I’ve studied say things like, if “we keep spending like this, we’re going to be bankrupt and there won’t be anything for anybody,” especially “our children.” The final straw is the government’s decision to continue spending and to put the country deeper into debt and more dependent on China.

Looks like Struppster, my Keynesian Kommenter, is in a small minority.

Well, then.

For some reason, Greenberg didn't seem to poll on such dinosaurs as Dep't of Education, EPA, Homeland "Security", or D of Energy. But Greenberg doesn't much care for the 10th Amendment--just like GWBush.

HT: Grim

McCain also has a comment which is more pithy.

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