Shocker: Political class backs spending while voters oppose

posted at 10:40 am on July 31, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Scott Rasmussen’s polls have included internal demographics on age, political affiliation, ideology, ethnicity, and income for years, but recently Rasmussen added another subset for tracking: the political class.  It’s actually more a measure of populism, given the structure of the formula Rasmussen uses to define “political class”:

The questions used to calculate the Index are:

– Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more – the American people or America’s political leaders?

– Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?

– Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?

To create a scale, each response earns a plus 1 for the populist answer, a minus 1 for the political class answer, and a 0 for not sure.

Those who score 2 or higher are considered a populist or part of the Mainstream. Those who score -2 or lower are considered to be aligned with the Political Class. Those who score +1 or -1 are considered leaners in one direction or the other.

The political class, therefore, are the anti-populists.  Populists presumably range widely from some John Edwards followers to Tea Party activists to libertarians (and perhaps especially Libertarians).  Anyone who has a beef with elites and cabals fall outside of the political class.  That’s important to note when considering Scott Rasmussen’s latest essay on the state of a great divide in American politics, and what it means:

However, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% of voters believe increased government spending is good for the economy. Fifty-two percent (52%) believe increased government spending is bad for the economy, while 12% say it has no impact. Eight percent (8%) are not sure.

This suggests that for 72% of voters, asking about a trade-off between cutting spending and helping the economy doesn’t make sense. A look at the demographics shows that the trade-off makes sense for only one group– thePolitical Class. Among that group, 67% believe increased government spending would be good for the economy. …

Earlier data shows the same perspective on deficits. Only 17% of voters believe that increasing the federal deficit is good for the economy. For everybody else, the vast majority, the question of a trade-off between helping the economy and cutting the deficit makes no sense. Most voters (56%) believe, in fact, that cutting the deficit is good for the economy. So rather than a trade-off, voters see cutting the deficit as a way to kill two birds with one stone.

Be sure to read it all.  The thrust of the piece is that the anti-populists have more or less entrenched themselves in Washington, and mainly under the guise of Edwards-style populism.  That may have had a boom moment in 2008, but the electorate has quickly grown tired of big-spending, big-government solutions that by definition require a class of elites to make decisions for citizens that they used to make for themselves. Not surprisingly, the elitists don’t want to let go of that power.

If this election has a theme, it’s going to be the rejection of the elites and a return to a form of populism with a long streak in American history — the demand of citizens to their government to get the hell out of their lives.


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his political class pieces are classic and they point to a larger truth. Elites from the media to the think tanks have some influence over government, increase government power and it increases their status and strength. From here on in when people talk about the idealism of reporters or the altruism of activists it should be seen in the context for what its, a lousy power grab at our expense.

rob verdi on July 31, 2010 at 10:43 AM

The State is smarter than the people, the State looks out for itself first, and the State works with big business often at the expense of the people.

Rasmussen’s formula for defining the “political class” sounds like a description of fascism to me.

forest on July 31, 2010 at 10:47 AM

They get richer and more powerful, we get poorer and more shut out.

What’s not hate about that?

CPT. Charles on July 31, 2010 at 10:51 AM

K street lobbyists aren’t feeling any cutbacks or layoffs…

Jeff2161 on July 31, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Washington is going to get a WAKE UP call this November.

GarandFan on July 31, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Whenever people start yelling about getting government out of their own personal and private lives, Government always responds that it is only “looking out for our own best interests.”

Funny thing is when you actually confront a politician, usually a Democrat, and ask them to explain what they mean by “looking out for our own best interests”, you never get an answer. Instead, you are treated like you are a complete imbecile.

pilamaye on July 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM

This is kind of like a presidential poll with Obama vs Republican opponent.

When it comes down to it…people say “well, yes we need that. I don’t want to take that from my kids.”

We are all bluster in the country from top to bottom…Only the political class has the money to make us even worse drones.

tomas on July 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM

When push come to shove, will the Ruling Class obey the people?
Will they bow to the electorate or enact a more authoritarian form of Statism?
We might be on the precipice…
Sharron Angle’s “gaffe” about the 2nd Amendment might be more true than the Political Ruling Class cares to find out.

mjbrooks3 on July 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM

the demand of citizens to their government to get the hell out of their lives.

And get the hell off my lawn!

ladyingray on July 31, 2010 at 11:04 AM

This is the problem, not capitalism. They rig it more and more make it look like it so they can consolidate power.

tomas on July 31, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Isn’t the 52% who oppose more spending roughly the same percentage as those who actually pay taxes?

OldEnglish on July 31, 2010 at 11:17 AM

the demand of citizens to their government to get the hell out of their lives.

And the only way for that to happen is to return to the consitution and limit what the government can and can not do. It is important that we pass a amendment to limit the power of the commerce clause, limt the power of the POTUS and EO’s, return more power to the people by holding house elections every year instead of 2, senate elections every 3 instead of 6 and POTUS elections every 2 instead of 4. The elected leaders have shown they are not responsible enough to do what is right on off-year elections. If they had to worry about their jobs every year instead of once in awhile most of this crap of the last 70 years would have never been passed.

unseen on July 31, 2010 at 11:20 AM

a lousy power grab at our expense.

rob verdi on July 31, 2010 at 10:43 AM

-
Pretty much how I translated the headline, and it seems to truer than ever.

RalphyBoy on July 31, 2010 at 11:22 AM

This is why they are trying to get rid of or nullify the electorial college.

Disturb the Universe on July 31, 2010 at 11:26 AM

I like the comparison. Stark and clean. Very difficult to get rid of a ruling class who makes the rules as to how it could be done. I see the AZ confrontation as an opening salvo. I also doubt that the GOP regaining majorities will help the situation. Power is what they all want. All else is secondary.

a capella on July 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Thanks for the post Ed. Rasmussen, always refining the data set. I like it.

Robert17 on July 31, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Shocker: PoliticalRuling class backs spending while voters oppose

FIFY

oddjob1138 on July 31, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Elites demand to remain elite. When is the last time anyone got a personal response to a question sent to their Representatives ? I’ll wait…*tapping toe*

Jeff2161 on July 31, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Oligarchy supports oppressing peons while peons oppose.

GTR640 on July 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Elites demand to remain elite. When is the last time anyone got a personal response to a question sent to their Representatives ? I’ll wait…*tapping toe*

Jeff2161 on July 31, 2010 at 11:50 AM

I went to a townhall with a typed up question, that I did not get a chance to ask. I handed it to an aide at the end. I said Please give this to the Congressman and have him respond via email or letter. She said she would, but they get tons of letters. I said, I made the effort to come tonight, please reply. She assured me they would. No Response yet. Pitiful.

txmomof6 on July 31, 2010 at 12:01 PM

What is the difference between “the people” and “the political class”?

Is it intelligence? No, there are geniuses and dolts in both.

Is it leadership? No; alphas, betas, and drones can find their place in both groups.

Is it knowledge? Well, sort of… if you count unproven beliefs as knowledge.

The difference is not in the knowledge of math; you’ll find advanced math skills inside and out of the political class. The same is true of the hard sciences; a deep understanding of physics or chemistry doesn’t lead to entry to the ruling classes. As far as I can tell, knowledge based in fact is spread roughly equally between the wannabe rulers and the never-gonna-be ruled.

The difference between these two groups is built on one form of “knowledge” alone — the highly interpretive “knowledge” of the soft sciences and humanities. That is the form of “knowledge” constructed on few, if any, facts… most of what is taught in today’s soft sciences should be seen as a shared self-serving myth. An education in the humanities and soft sciences consists of voluntarily adopting and parroting back the biases of the professoriat, folks who are nothing but ex-parrots themselves. And so the myths of the ruling classes are maintained.

So keep that in mind when dealing with the political class; their claim to the throne is based solely on a self-generated social construct, the “facts” they cite for legitimacy are of the declared variety, not the proven. The emperor truly has no clothes.

stevieray on July 31, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Rasmussen’s Political Class are those who support government in the poll’s context. We can guess how wonks will read the questions, but I wonder how the welfare class reads them.

For people dependent on government, who consider the President the protector of entitlements, I am guessing they would agree with question number 1. Questions 2 and 3, I could never guess, it would take a poll. Wonder if Rasmussen has separated the Welfare class from the Political class in his poll?

He is a very good pollster and polling is an art. Semantics are misleading and words interpreted in the context of the reader.

I could see brains shorting out as they attempt to reconcile government working with business to hurt the dependent class versus government working with business to protect the dependent class from the populist Tea Party class

entagor on July 31, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Time for another Paul Krugman column about how incredibly, despite all of the best efforts of Nobel prize winning geniuses like him, the public are still being hoodwinked by extremist right wing propaganda and corporate interests – and how because of this mass brainwashing, Obama does not have the political currency to enact the progressive agenda that, being an intellectual elite like Krugman, he surely understands is the only way to rescue America from the laissez-faire hell which got us here in the first place. Five, four, three, two…..

Sharke on July 31, 2010 at 12:16 PM

“the demand of citizens to their government to get the hell out of their lives.”

It’s going to take more than a demand.

You don’t get vermin out by asking nicely.

notagool on July 31, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Democrats never met an economic downturn they couldn’t drag on for a decade or so.

Isn’t this more a referendum on Keynesian vs. Supply Side economic policies than classism?

BKeyser on July 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM

the demand of citizens to their government to get the hell out of their lives.

Government denizens that continue to want to rule over us should be frog marched to the edge of cliff and required to jump off. End of problem

chemman on July 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM

The ghosts of the 25,000 Americans who died in that 18th century war of ours (starts with R, ends with evolution) are muttering all around us. What a waste of their lives to recreate 250 years later what they fought against back then.

Bishop on July 31, 2010 at 12:30 PM

The Tea Party movement is a reflection of peoples’ recognition of this divide between the political class and the rest of the people of this country. Democrats are largely out of the closet as members of the Political Class; Republicans are more circumspect, but most of them are members of the political class too.

The real enemies of American principles of liberty and limited government can’t be recognized by their party affiliations. More and more Americans are beginning to realize this fact, and that recognition is the essential first step to engaging those enemies in the battle to protect the first principles of our country.

novaculus on July 31, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I like the term “RULING class”…….it more accurately describes what they envision themselves as.

Either way it’s just Human history repeating itself.

PappyD61 on July 31, 2010 at 12:34 PM

If this election has a theme,

Tea Party Theme Song – Won’t get fooled again

faraway on July 31, 2010 at 12:44 PM

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new r evolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again

faraway on July 31, 2010 at 12:45 PM

No article about the political class is complete without a link to Codevilla’s recent article
http://spectator.org/archives/2010/07/16/americas-ruling-class-and-the

agmartin on July 31, 2010 at 2:04 PM

The real take-away paragraph from the article is the last:

In his new book, Rasmussen adds, “The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century.”

Our greatest freedom is freedom from government, not the freedom to be governed.

ajacksonian on July 31, 2010 at 3:41 PM

I worry about those folks who vote ‘not sure’ all of the time.

jeanie on July 31, 2010 at 6:33 PM

The statists in the federal bureaucracies are not going to go away, no matter how many Republicans we elect to Congress—not unless said Republicans are willing to go to the mat to start eliminating government departments, agencies, and programs; not unless they are committed to actually and dramatically reducing the size and scope of the Federal government, e.g. reduce the scope of the Commerce Clause.

To achieve such a revolution, the Tea Party movement has to not only take over the Republicans, but supersede it, and become the dominant force in American politics.

Can it happen? Or are we too far gone?

MrLynn on July 31, 2010 at 10:39 PM

[I posted this yesterday, but it never appeared. /Mr L]

The statists in the federal bureaucracies are not going to go away, no matter how many Republicans we elect to Congress—not unless said Republicans are willing to go to the mat to start eliminating government departments, agencies, and programs; not unless they are committed to actually and dramatically reducing the size and scope of the Federal government, e.g. reduce the scope of the Commerce Clause.

To achieve such a revolution, the Tea Party movement has to not only take over the Republicans, but supersede it, and become the dominant force in American politics.

Can it happen? Or are we too far gone?

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/07/31/shocker-political-class-backs-spending-while-voters-oppose/

MrLynn on August 1, 2010 at 8:09 AM

I keep thinking of the picture of Pelosi carrying that big gavel in the parade. These people are just professional power grabbers and need to go. This ain’t no Elks Club. This is our country they are screwing up.

johnnyU on August 1, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Pelosi is their poster child and to think she will get reelected. I used to live in SF; I shall never return.

amr on August 1, 2010 at 7:50 PM

Those are normal people – normal poll-takers – that Rasmussen has divided into two classes.

Political class thus is not synonymous with ruling class.

And I know a bunch of people who agree with the concepts that put them into the political class, although they don’t hold any office or live any differently from the rest of us. They just sincerely believe that hogwash.

Alana on August 1, 2010 at 11:32 PM

This poll found the base of the current democrat party. These people see the inequality of outcome in the world and desire a government to change that.

They don’t understand that inequality of outcome is partly based on choice of values and free will. A person that wants to spend more time with family than job will make less.

Equality of Outcome takes away choice of values.

PrezHussein on August 2, 2010 at 12:07 AM

The difference between these two groups is built on one form of “knowledge” alone — the highly interpretive “knowledge” of the soft sciences and humanities. That is the form of “knowledge” constructed on few, if any, facts… most of what is taught in today’s soft sciences should be seen as a shared self-serving myth. An education in the humanities and soft sciences consists of voluntarily adopting and parroting back the biases of the professoriat, folks who are nothing but ex-parrots themselves. And so the myths of the ruling classes are maintained.

So keep that in mind when dealing with the political class; their claim to the throne is based solely on a self-generated social construct, the “facts” they cite for legitimacy are of the declared variety, not the proven. The emperor truly has no clothes.

stevieray on July 31, 2010 at 12:01 PM

The people with this knowledge feel elite and they are stubborn about their knowledge. The will use emotion and sob stories to make up for when they don’t have this knowledge.

PrezHussein on August 2, 2010 at 12:16 AM