Remember when our mothers used to tell us, “If 56% of your friends told you to jump in front of a moving populist train, would you do it?” So far the answer seems to be yes, and it might be because of the same feedback that Politico and Morning Consult found in their poll from last week. Democratic voters are in the mood for vengeance — but they’re alone in that regard:
Democratic voters are sending a clear message to their elected officials in Washington: Stop Donald Trump at all costs.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that just 34 percent of Democratic voters want their party’s elected officials to find ways to work with the new president. A 56-percent majority say Democrats in Congress should stick to their principles, even “if that means blocking all legislation or nominees for government posts.”
Sounds like a plan, eh? Yes … for further disconnection from the electorate. The overall rating on this question is 58/30 for cooperation, which includes majorities in the following demos:
- Female: 56/32
- Independents: 59/24
- All age demos except 18-29YOs, who split 46/36 for cooperation
- Moderates: 57/27
- All income brackets, including 54/30 among those earning less than $50,000
- All education demos
- Urban voters: 50/39
- Government employees: 62/28
Who exactly will this policy of obstructionism attract? Hillary Clinton voters (31/60 on cooperation), Democrats, and … not too many others. A narrow plurality of Hispanic voters want cooperation (46/38) despite the controversy over Trump’s immigration policies, and only a narrow plurality of African-Americans (34/47) want obstructionism.
Speaking of policy, Trump’s have been pretty popular so far:
Across the board, Trump is finding pretty widespread support for nearly all of his policy prescriptions. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they approve of Trump’s new immigration restrictions, which curtail the flow of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Only 38 percent of voters oppose the order.
Trump gets pluralities or majorities on two other policies, including the “two for one” regulation order (47/33), maintaining Barack Obama’s LGBTQ policy on federal contractor employment (53/24). His approval rating in this automated poll is 47/46 overall — not great, but hardly the kind of unpopularity that calls for complete obstructionism.
As I argue in my column today at The Week, the Democrats’ policy of obstructionism is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of why power shifted to the Republicans over the last eight years. Both parties share in that misunderstanding, but at the moment Democrats are at the highest risk of damaging themselves because of it:
The Democrats’ fall from grace did not begin with Republican obstruction. It came from falling victim to the hubris of single-party control, and then failing to recognize that they had lost connection with voters at every level of politics. They stuck to their progressive agenda long after it became apparent that voters outside of their urban and coastal cores didn’t share those priorities. Continued obstruction on that agenda is not only not the right prescription, it is practically the worst possible strategy to pursue.
Republicans suffer from similar misconceptions. The GOP is in its strongest position at all levels since Herbert Hoover or perhaps even Reconstruction. That reality can seduce Republicans into convincing themselves that they have reached new heights of popularity through ideological obstructionism. And that is simply untrue. Republicans have benefited from being the only other rational choice in a two-party electoral system, gaining a chance to demonstrate fitness in power — likely with a very short time frame in which to prove it.
Voters want an end to ideological battles. They want to see results. Trump won by casting himself as a tough executive who can cut through the noise to get things done. GOP leaders seem to have learned that lesson, which is why they are loathe to present too much open conflict over Trump’s agenda, preferring to work in a more low-key fashion to find common ground with the White House. If Democrats block the GOP, voters won’t blame Republicans for the failure — especially not after watching months of public demonstrations of spiteful obstruction.
Democrats, however, still believe that voters want “resistance” to Trump and to defend their ideological agenda at the expense of addressing the economic problems that voters want solved. If Democrats don’t wake up to their disconnect with voters, Mike Pence won’t have to cast too many tiebreakers after the 2018 midterms.
The media focus on the Morning Consult poll will likely be on the strong base support Democrats will have for their obstructionism, rather than just how narrow that base has become. A base appeal didn’t translate into wins in 2016 at any level for Democrats. They risk narrowing that base even further to a radical ideological core that will cement their status as a party on the margins — both geographically as well as culturally and politically.
In other words …