If we needed any more proof that the Beltway crowd lives in its own bubble, the latest poll from Politico demonstrates it well. Politico’s polls break out responses between general population and “DC elites,” and in this case the disconnect looms rather large. In a race against a generic Republican in the 2012 election, only 37% of the general population would be more likely to vote for Barack Obama, while 40% are more disposed to vote for the GOP. Among DC elites, however, that changes dramatically to 58/29. In fact, Obama gets more support now among the elites than any time over the past five months.
While Obama gets the short end on the generic question, he does manage to win against all of the named challengers in the poll — but his re-elect numbers never get to 50% in any of the head-to-head matches:
- Obama vs Palin: 46/33
- Obama vs Romney: 40/32
- Obama vs Pawlenty: 39/21
- Obama vs Huckabee: 40/34
- Obama vs Barbour: 40/20
The sample’s split was somewhat odd, with a D/R/I of 29/26/27. That adds up to 82%; presumably, the other 18% aren’t voters, or Politico’s pollster has some issues with math.
Andy Barr reports that the split between DC and the rest of the country runs through all of the data:
The starkest contrast came in the divergent interpretations of the Nov. 2 elections. Washingtonians involved in the policymaking or political process have a great degree of certainty in their interpretation of the election results—61 percent think voters sent a message of “disapproval of Washington D.C. as a whole.” ..
“Disapproval of Barack Obama” and “disapproval of congressional Democrats” tied for a distant second, with each garnering 14 percent.
The general population, however, was less sure. Just 36 percent think the election results reflected disapproval of Washington. And 22 percent, a higher percentage than among D.C. elites, viewed Obama disapproval as the message. …
Another point of departure: optimism about the direction of government in the wake of the midterm elections. Thirty-six percent of the general population polled said they are more hopeful about the direction following the elections, compared with 29 percent who said they are less hopeful.
Among D.C. elites, the numbers are flipped—56 percent say they are less hopeful, and 29 percent say they are more hopeful.
Clearly, what we need is a governing class that has a little more connection to the citizenry who sends them to Washington. The midterms took a big step in that direction. That has me a little more optimistic these days.
We’ll see whether we feel as optimistic two years from now, and it will be interesting — and instructive — to see whether Politico’s polls at that time show any change. First, though, they have to start adding up.
Update: Don’t read too much into the head-to-head results for the Republican contenders. Most of them still need to make a case for their leadership for 2012, even those who ran in 2008; a lot has changed in the meantime. The real point of interest is how low Obama’s re-elect numbers are against each of them — especially a 39% against relative newcomer Tim Pawlenty.