It’s a pretty strong suggestion too, and it should give Democrat incumbents in the Senate yet another reason to question Harry Reid’s leadership. The Economist/YouGov partnership conducted two polls on approval levels for the Supreme Court. One was taken from June 28th-30th, ending the same day that the court handed down its Hobby Lobby decision (and Harris v Quinn for that matter), and after its previously-announced decisions the week before, and the other from July 5-7, at the pitch of the hysterical overreaction to the 5-4 Hobby Lobby result. While the media and Democrats seem to believe that the Supreme Court’s credibility would take a beating, the opposite turned out to be true:
In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans are closely divided in how they view the Court, but there has been a slight improvement in the last week.
Although the Hobby Lobby decision was unpopular with Democrats, whose image of the Court shifted from mixed to negative after the ruling, Republicans (who were more positive about the Court to begin with) became even more positive. Favorable ratings of the Supreme Court jumped six points among Republicans, while unfavorable views rose seven points among Democrats.
But the greatest change in perception of the Supreme Court came from independents. Last week, independents were more unfavorable than favorable, this week, a majority of independents are favorable.
The change among independents turned out to be rather dramatic, actually:
That’s a sea change in opinion, and it’s not the only bad news for Democrats planning to make their opposition to the Hobby Lobby decision a centerpiece for the midterms. On the decision itself, a plurality of Americans favor the outcome by a 47/41 margin. Among independents, that goes to a 53/36 approval. Even among women, the target demo for this campaign strategy, the outcome is decidedly mixed at 43/46; the crosstabs show an almost even split among women who feel strongly either way, 32/34. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of this being part of the “war on women” Democrats keep claiming.
Looking further at the crosstabs for the second poll, there’s more bad news for Reid and whoever decides to follow him on this path. The only region to disapprove of this decision is the northeast, and only narrowly at 40/45. In the regions where incumbent Democrats run higher risks of losing their seats, respondents support the Hobby Lobby outcome: 48/43 in the Midwest, 45/42 in the West, and a big majority in the South of 53/37.
Which Democrats want to climb aboard Reid’s anti-religious-expression bandwagon with these numbers? Mary Landrieu in Louisiana? Michelle Nunn in Georgia? Kay Hagan in North Carolina? Even Al Franken in Minnesota may want to think long and hard before backing Reid’s play on the RFRA amendment.
As I wrote at The Fiscal Times this week, Reid’s strategy is a loser on many levels:
It attempts to restore a mandate that actually wasn’t included in the law itself, but was created as a regulation without any vote in Congress. Where the RFRA was a highly popular attempt to protect and expand the ability to defend religious expression – it passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate, both controlled at the time by Democrats – the effect of this amendment will be to limit religious expression, which won’t endear Democrats to voters of faith in any sense.
Democratic incumbents in the Senate already face long odds in the upcoming midterm elections, largely because of ObamaCare and the unintended consequences of its rollout and control of the health-insurance market. Reid now wants them to cast a vote to limit religious conscience objections for products that are so widely available that the CDC couldn’t detect any access issues, in what will be seen as another endorsement of the unpopular ACA.
That will come either just before a new round of price hikes gets announced, or at the same time, just weeks ahead of the midterms – price hikes that have the White House so worried that their team has already begun the spin effort to deflect attention. On top of all this, Reid wants them to expose themselves to considerable voter backlash in purple and red states for a bill that has zero chance of becoming law.
Perhaps Harry Reid might convince these vulnerable Senate Democrats to go all in on a futile endorsement of Obamacare, bureaucratic arrogance, and restrictions on religious expression ahead of facing the voters. They may instead think back to what motivated the RFRA twenty-one years ago, and wonder what Harry Reid is smoking.
A month from now, Democrats won’t even be talking about it. But maybe they should seriously think about retiring Harry Reid as their majority leader before he talks America into giving Republicans a clean sweep in November.