Gallup: #1 critique of GOP is … inflexibility
posted at 2:01 pm on April 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
This result was apparently significant enough to grab the attention of Politico, but Gallup’s follow-up data makes this rather meaningless:
Democrats, Republicans and independents all had the same top complaint about the GOP in a Gallup poll released Monday: It’s inflexible.
The poll asked respondents to name two things they liked and disliked about the nation’s political parties. More cited inflexibility and unwillingness to compromise than anything else — 21 percent overall, including 26 percent of Republicans. Twelve percent said the party was “for the rich.”
The Washington Post also takes an interest in the results:
The poll asked respondents an open-ended question about one or two critiques of the GOP. The top response — at 21 percent — was that the party was inflexible and/or unwilling to compromise.
And what came in third? I quote: “Don’t stand up for their positions/Give in too easily.” That was the preferred description of 9% of respondents, including 14% of Republicans. In order to solve the first and third problems, the GOP would have to figure out how to be more flexible while remaining more firm on their positions. Good luck!
There are a few things to point out from the results of the poll about Republicans, however. Issues that are presumed to be hot-button topics for voters barely show up in negative statements about either party. Among the issues that don’t even rise above the ±4% margin of error are social issues (4% for Republicans), abortion/womens’ policies (4%), religion (2%), immigration (2%), and gay marriage (1%). Seventeen percent answered “Nothing,” which actually comes in second, including 18% of independents and 15% of Democrats.
“Nothing” actually comes in first for Democrats at 20%, but only 4% of Republicans offered that assessment.
In other words, “nothing” actually describes the practical impact of this oddly-designed poll, as Gallup’s own analysis admits:
For almost every issue that some people (mostly Republicans) cite as positive about the Republican Party, others (mainly Democrats and independents) cite it as a negative. The negatives heavily outweigh the positives with respect to Republicans’ perceived rigidity and perceived support for the rich. In some cases, positive and negative mentions of the party’s positions roughly cancel each other out, including on abortion, immigration, and “economic policies.” However, the GOP enjoys a positive tilt in the balance of views about its support for lower spending, smaller government, lower taxes, and its general conservatism. This may indicate that a key to Republicans’ regaining favor with Americans is not necessarily to change their positions, but to be perceived as less dogmatic about them and willing to compromise to pass legislation. Of course, some Republicans oppose this position, including the 14% who say their party already compromises too much.
Basically, Republicans have to offer positive alternatives in policy that will improve the lives of more voters. I don’t think we needed this poll to reveal that.