The GOP’s issue advantage

Democrats received some good news in the form of an ABC News/Washington Post poll in late March that showed the president’s party enjoyed a significant advantage over Republicans on the major issues facing the country.

From handling the economy, to health care, to immigration matters, to energy policy, to even the tax code; the public said that they placed more trust in Democrats to manage America’s affairs. Only on the issue of the federal budget deficit did Republicans outperform their Democratic colleagues, and few would contend that many voters plan to head to the polls in November of 2016 solely to register their dissatisfaction with the federal government’s profligacy.

But there are happy signs that Republicans are not nearly as out of step with the public as this poll would lead its readers to believe.

On Tuesday, the political press resumed a familiar, circular pattern of self-reinforcing like think after it was revealed that Hillary Clinton will call for a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrant population. This, many contended, would split the Republican field and hinder the GOP’s ability to augment its candidates’ appeal to Latino voters.

But there is reason to think that Clinton’s proposal is not the majoritarian policy prescription the costal media would like to believe.

The polling has been pretty consistent on the issue of immigration reform. Poll after poll has shown that the public favors strengthening border security before pursuing a comprehensive immigration reform package that includes legalization mechanisms for the undocumented population. Prior to last summer’s border crisis, a rare CNN/ORC survey indicated that a majority favor addressing legalization over stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. After that horrifying influx of Latin American children into the country, prompted by a well-meaning but poorly designed child trafficking law, that dynamic reversed itself.


It would seem that Democrats rather than Republicans have embraced the ideologically rigid, inflexible, unrepresentative position on the issue of immigration. Don’t expect the press to make this observation, but the increasing number of Americans who turn to conservative outlets for inconvenient truths can take comfort in that reality.

It isn’t merely on the wedge issue of immigration that Republicans might be better positioned than the mass media would have the public believe.

On Monday, too many in the press and on the left spent an unseemly amount of time wondering why Pamela Geller and her organization provoked two radical Islamist sympathizers to attempt mass murder at a provocative event designed to mock Islamic radicalism. Far too many wondered if that kind of violence was predictable, even forgivable, given the fact that they targeted provocateurs. It did not take much investigating to learn that the radicals who shot up this Texas event had expressed sympathy for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Just hours after the two assailants were killed, ISIS claimed credit for the attack.

The left’s decision to spend hours hand-wringing over why America might have deserved what could come to be remembered as the first ISIS-linked domestic terrorist attack seems a curious electoral strategy. Particularly given the polling.

Following the rise of ISIS and a spate of ISIS-inspired attacks on Western targets last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that terrorism had overtaken the economy as the issue most believe should be the federal government’s top priority. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the economy still ranked as the public’s top priority followed closely by terrorism and national security.

It was perhaps understandable that so few liberals reacted with dismay to a terrorist attack on U.S. soil on Sunday given the results of this survey. This poll found that strengthening national security is fourth on the list of Democratic priorities – below even climate change.

Talk about being out of touch. Or don’t, if you’re a member of the national press. The conclusions drawn from that conversation about the Democratic Party’s representativeness would be uncomfortable, to say the least. But it is increasingly clear to all neutral observers that Republicans are not as removed from the concerns of everyday Americans as some would like to believe.