4/29: Political Grab Bag

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

The recent national McClatchy-Marist Poll contains many interesting nuggets.  Here are a few worth examining more closely:

Obama in Trouble?

The numbers suggest that President Obama’s re-election prospects could be in jeopardy.  With everything going for him in ’08, he tallied 53%.  Now, only 37% of the electorate tells us they would definitely vote to re-elect him.

“Why Not Me,” Asks the GOP Field

The GOP clearly wants to run against Obama in the worst possible way, and, so far, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.  With a potential field of more than a dozen candidate wannabes, no one has come forward who tops Obama.  In fact, it is hard to distinguish a top tier of challengers.  “The Donald” is taking most of the oxygen out of the room leaving the rest of the field trying to catch their breath.  In electoral politics, it is still early.  But, the adage of needing someone to beat someone still reigns in politics.  And, so far, the GOP has to be worried over what they have to offer.

Pointing an Economic Finger

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but…

I must admit to being surprised by the 63% of the national electorate in the latest McClatchy-Marist Poll who still thinks that President Obama largely inherited the country’s economic woes.  The percentage is down from the 80% who expressed this view two years ago.  But, you’d think that by now more of the recession minded voters would be placing their displeasure at the doorsteps of the current occupant of the White House.  If these numbers hold as the president swings into campaign mode, expect Obama to mention it every now and then.  Maybe a little more than that!

Tea-Partiers…Are You serious?

Well, it seems like I’m surprised yet again from the recent national poll.  This time, it’s the Tea Party crowd that caught me off guard.  On the question of cutting Medicare and Medicaid to deal with the deficit, 70% of these anti-spending, anti-big government voters object to going after these programs.

What’s a Washington Pol to Do?

And now, for the understatement of the year (decade? ages?)… Voters around the nation are very dissatisfied with the political leadership in Washington.  64% think the nation is headed in the wrong direction.  President Obama’s approval rating is stuck at 40-something.  But, only 34% approve of job the Congressional Democrats are doing.  As for the beneficiaries of last November’s political shellacking of the president, well, the GOP in Congress bottoms out at a 30% approval rating.

The Congressional Top Spot

Not surprisingly, the top priority for voters is for Washington to reduce the deficit.  But, the devil is definitely in the details.  There is a wide chasm between the public sentiments and what Washington is likely to deliver.  A majority of voters, 54%, do not want to reduce military spending.  A full 80% oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.  And, more than two out of three voters oppose raising the debt ceiling to deal with the federal budget deficit.  The Obama proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy has substantial support with voters but will clearly face major obstacles in becoming law.

What’s a Washington pol to do?  So far, the public has been served with very little beyond partisan bickering and posturing and the approaching elections are unlikely to help.