Well, okay, not everything. Democrats still get more trust from voters on the environment by 23 points in this latest Gallup survey, and health care comes in at a virtual tie. Since those are near the bottom of the electorate’s priority list in the midterms, it hardly matters. Republicans have taken the lead on every other issue on the radars of voters, including a stunning eleven point lead on the economy, a traditional Democratic strength:
A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans saying the Republicans in Congress would do a better job than the Democrats in Congress of handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on healthcare, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.
The Republicans’ advantage on most issues is an indication of the currently favorable political environment for the party. Of particular note is the parity between the two parties on healthcare, an issue on which Americans historically have viewed the Democrats as superior.
A similar USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in October 2006, just prior to Democrats’ major gains in that fall’s elections, highlights the potential implications of these findings. That poll, which includes several issues measured in the current survey, found the Democrats leading on all eight issues tested at that time, including some usual Republican strengths like terrorism and moral values.
Byron York looks at the difference four years of Democratic control of Congress makes:
Back in October 2006, just before Democrats won control of Congress, Gallup asked the traditional question, “Do you think the Republicans in Congress or the Democrats in Congress would do a better job dealing with [the following issue]…” In October ’06, Democrats had 64 percent to 35 percent lead on health care — a 39 percentage-point advantage. Now, on the same issue, after Democrats passed their long-dreamed-of national health care bill, the result is 44 percent for Democrats versus 43 percent for Republicans — a virtual tie. That is an enormous advantage to have thrown away during four years in power.
The news is just as bad for Democrats on the economy. In October 2006, Democrats held a 53 to 37 lead over Republicans on the issue. Now, after Democrats passed an $862 billion stimulus bill and touted 2010 as the “summer of recovery,” Republicans hold a 49 to 38 lead. Democrats have gone from having a 16 point lead to being 11 points behind.
The difference is one between theory and practice. Democrats promised to deliver more services and more redistribution while remaining moderate and fiscally responsible, and never mentioned tax increases. That’s one hell of a sales pitch, but it’s also completely unrealistic. George W, Bush kept Democrats in Congress from putting much of their plans into motion until they bypassed him on the FY2009 budget. When Barack Obama took office, they passed the ’09 budget and started wholesale implementation of their radical agenda.
It took Republicans twelve years to dissipate their trust and credibility with voters after taking control of Congress, and six years of one-party governance in Washington. It has taken Democrats less than a third of both time frames to utterly destroy their standing with voters on nearly every issue. That’s quite an achievement, and impressive in its own way. The numbers on the issues explain why Democrats are looking at the business end of a historical rebuke in the midterms, and why campaigning on George Bush really won’t address their problem at all. Voters aren’t worried about Bush any longer; they’re worried about the people in office now, and don’t like what they see at all.