If Democrats want to convince anyone not already firmly in their own camp to support their candidates, they need a better argument than BushBushBushBushBush. National Journal reports the results of a poll commissioned by a Democrat-leaning think tank that shows voters don’t consider today’s GOP as watercarriers for Barack Obama’s predecessor. Almost two-thirds of respondents see Republican control of Congress as, well, Hope and Change:
Dems have tried repeatedly to tie the GOP to Bush’s economic policies, which remain highly unpopular. But so far, that hasn’t worked, according to officials at the Dem-leaning Third Way think tank.
“Just eighteen months after President Bush left office with the nation’s economy in historic freefall, two-thirds of Americans now see congressional Republicans and their economic ideas as new and completely separate from those of the former president,” the group wrote in a strategy memo sent to Dem leaders last month.
A majority, 53%, of Americans still blame Pres. Bush for the country’s economic woes, while 26% pin the blame on Pres. Obama. Only 14% give Bush excellent or good ratings on handling the federal budget, and 28% say he helped the middle class, according to a survey from Benenson Strategy Group.
But just 25% of Americans say that the GOP’s return to power in Congress will mean a return to those unpopular Bush policies. Fully 65% believe a GOP Congress would promote “a new economic agenda that is different from George W. Bush’s policies.”
A thin fraction of independent voters (22%) and Dems (32%) believe the GOP is set to return to Bush’s agenda. That’s great news for GOPers, who seem headed for an electoral romp this year, and bad news for Dems, who see tying the GOP to Bush’s legacy as a surefire way of beating back the GOP onslaught.
Of course, Barack Obama has not quite caught up to the news:
Obama said that after losing control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008, Republicans did not engage in new thinking but stuck to the same policies that led the United States into the worst recession since the Great Depression.
“It’s not like they engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don’t have a single idea that is different from George Bush’s,” he said.
Republicans, he said, are betting that Americans had forgotten recent history.
Which recent history? The recent history of Obama’s promise to keep unemployment below 8% if Congress gave him $787 billion to spend? That recent history? Or the recent history showing that civilian participation in the workforce has hit a historic low under his leadership? How about the $2.2 trillion math error made by the Obama White House in calculating future deficits? The failure of the stimulus plan to sustain real growth instead of just creating gimmicky spikes in markets?
Obama wants voters to forget recent history, not remember it. Unfortunately, the Bush Boogeyman Boogie simply isn’t as effective as it was in 2008, before Obama won his election and had to start governing for himself. Not only has that failed to keep criticism from falling on his shoulders, it hasn’t kept almost two-thirds of voters from noticing that the GOP has become more free-market oriented since the retirement of the man who claimed to have violated those principles in order to save the free market.
Voters have seen four years of the Democratic agenda from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and two years of incompetence from Barack Obama. The real boogeymen in this cycle are all Democrats, and chanting BushBushBushBushBush just demonstrates how far out of touch Democratic leadership has become from the electorate.