The public really, really doesn’t like the Republican Party

In the wake of the debt ceiling fiasco, the Republican Party is more unpopular than it’s ever been before.

I know I’m the original Cock-Eyed Optimist, but the latest CNN poll results suggest that it wasn’t completely cock-eyed to imagine that the Debt Ceiling nonsense would hurt the Republicans and the Teahadis in the eyes of the public.

Between mid-June and early August, the GOP went from 41% favorable/55% unfavorable (already their worst score since just after the Clinton impeachment) to 33%F/59%UF, their worst score ever. (The Dems held steady at 47/47.)

The GOP score is actually worse than the Tea Party score of 31/51, also an all-time worst.

So maybe we should start saying “GOP downgrade” rather than “Tea Party downgrade.” Either way, the public seems to have figured out who deserves the blame.

Update Gallup shows Obama going from trailing “generic Republican” 39-47 in July to leading 45-39 now. No, it wasn’t “eleven-dimensional chess.” It was giving the voters a good look at the alternative. I think it worked.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

27 thoughts on “The public really, really doesn’t like the Republican Party”

  1. Mark, I am glad someone is looking on the bright side!

    But I don’t understand how 33 is worse than 31.

    Worse, I fear that people will have completely forgotten this by next fall. People might remember that we have a debt problem but they won’t care about the ceiling anymore. It’s theoretically possible that actual voters will be a little more clued-in, but not a slam dunk by any means.

  2. NCG, unfavorables are harder to move than favorables. It’s hard to win elections when 49% of the public doesn’t like you.

  3. Entirely to be expected, this is a pattern we’ve seen repeat several times: The GOP establishment raises the flag of principle, proclaims all out war, and then caves at the last minute, and pretends it’s won some great victory. Those who didn’t want the GOP to win buy the story, and get mad. Conservatives know they’ve been betrayed yet again, and also get mad.

    Note question 3: Boehner gets continually more popular as the fight escalates, and then tanks after the deal is announced. The public isn’t mad he fought, it’s mad that he took a dive.

    I wonder if the GOP establishment will ever figure out that they’ll be taking fire from both sides as long as they don’t pick one side to be faithful to?

    As for the poll, I do have one question, given past CNN polls: Did they finally find a way to stop over-representing Democrats in their samples? The poll results conspicuously omit any mention of the partisan composition of their sample, and they do have a history of somehow managing to over-sample Democrats, over and over…

  4. I vote for GOP Downgrade…

    My understanding is that when the Teahadi in Wisconsin heard the phrase “the Tea Party Downgrade” a great cheer went up, reminiscent of the Palestinian whoop when the Twin Towers fell. That should be no surprise. The Left has been pointing out they are nihilists since day one. If there is one thing everyone to the left of Obama agrees on, it is that. The Tea Party’s vision of America is fully-formed in this Grover Norquist quote:

    “My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit,” says Norquist. “Because that person doesn’t need the goddamn government for anything.” ( Aside: please note that Norquist had to call in a government bomb squad recently.)

    So let’s get this straight once and for all:

    What the Tea Party really is, is a genetic remnant of the Confederacy that seeks to destroy the US Government from within.
    Does it come as any surprise that Bachmann has that book as one of her top three?
    Or that all 5 Southern Carolina Teabaggers voted nay, and were treated as heroes?

    They hate your Yankee schools. They hate your Yankee science. They hate your Yankee industry. They probably even hate the lines in the Social Security parking lot that tell them where to park. They spend all of time using a socially-constructed language to argue against all Yankee social constructions save the Christian Church. What they lack in smarts they make up with biting rage. They are sworn enemies of the Yankee state and proud of their hostage-taking. If they could cause Yankee American to default it would be a great victory for them as they’d get their Southern Empire back again.

    It is a war waged from within. But not just a war of ideas. For to win they must bring America to her knees. It is good to see Gore heating up recently and taking some rage back at the enemy. Albeit, Al goes off about GW deniers, he is right: It is way past time to scream Bull Shit at these tea-terrorists….

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2004/01/grover-norquist-soul-new-machine
    http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2011/08/al-gore-calls-bullshit-on-goddamned.html

  5. Bux,
    The complete methodology – everything except, I suppose, how the phone numbers used were determined – is two clicks away through the link. This wasn’t push-polling: people were asked extremely neutrally phrased questions about people and institutions, with no information given about those people or institutions and the questions asked in a random order. You may, if you wish, propose that a silent majority refuses to talk to telephone pollsters, or have no telephones, or some such. You could insinuate that the CNN gets its list of telephone numbers from contributors to PBS, or calls them at some time of day or week that biases the results. But you don’t just get to say “it’s on CNN so it’s not true”. You have to have some explanation for why it’s not true; the methodology – which, I reiterate, is mostly extremely readily available – doesn’t lend itself to obvious sources of bias.

    Or, instead, you could just deny reality.

  6. “Two clicks away through the link”??? Mark provided a like to a PDF, there are no further links, it’s a dead end.

    If you’ve got some numbers on how many Democrats vs Republicans CNN sampled on that poll, (They undoubtedly asked, even if they didn’t report the numbers in that PDF.) I’d like to see them.

  7. Bux, I’m comparing this CNN poll to previous CNN polls. The Republicans just took a hard hit. So did the Tea Party. Deal with it.

  8. There’s a lot missing in this pdf in terms of the details of the methodology. If you do survey research, Warren, you would know this. The missing details (such as your point about how the phone numbers are generated) are not minor points. And as Brett Bellmore has pointed out, CNN has a track record of running biased polls. How is that for reality?

  9. Mark, so could it be that CNN is getting better at biasing their polls more in favor of their viewpoint?

  10. This poll must be very encouraging to Democrats and other conservatives, but I am not encouraged by the fact that Obama surrendered to the conservatives and then got rewarded by the polls.

  11. Bux, thank God you don’t reason that way in your day job (at which, as I happen to know, you’re highly competent).

  12. Mark, it’s well established that CNN tends to over-sample Democrats in it’s polling. They’ve apparently got two sampling methodologies they use: Most of the time they use the “Let’s make Democrats feel good.” methodology, which over-samples Democrats, by churning out numbers that look good to you. Democrats being their customer base, they want them to be happy.

    Then, a little while before elections, they resort to their serious sampling methodology, so they won’t be embarrassed by the disconnect between their polls and the election results.

    You really weren’t aware of this? Because it’s pretty conspicuous how their numbers tend to be tilted Democratic most of the time, and drop back into the pack a few months before each election. They’re even quite frank about the fact that most of the time they’re polling differently than right around elections.

  13. “I think it worked.”

    Perhaps in some political sense. But that’s setting the bar awfully low. OK, re-electing Obama will impede the Republicans in their nearly incomprehensible struggle to make a bad situation (which they created) considerably worse. But it won’t make them better.

  14. Brett writes: Note question 3: Boehner gets continually more popular as the fight escalates, and then tanks after the deal is announced.

    “Continually more popular”? Really?

    The survey only reports two surveys during the six months before the deal, one in mid-July and one way back in March. Regardless of what the numbers say, there’s no way you can claim that two surveys prove someone gets “continually more popular.”

    So, Brett would be misleading readers even if the numbers showed Boehner improving between March and July.

    In March, Boehner’s fav-unfav was 41-27. In mid-July it was 43-32. The increase in the fav (2 points) is below the margin of error (3 points). Let’s ignore that, though, and just note that he went from a net +14 to a net +9.

    This is not the evidence on which to build the argument that Brett wants to build. Insofar as the results show anything at all, they show that Boehner’s unpopularity increased faster than his popularity.

    Moral of the story: Don’t trust Brett Bellmore.

  15. Brett Bellmore says:

    “Entirely to be expected, this is a pattern we’ve seen repeat several times: The GOP establishment raises the flag of principle, proclaims all out war, and then caves at the last minute, and pretends it’s won some great victory. ”

    Contest – link to the last statement Brett made which was factually correct.

  16. I wrote: just note that he went from a net +14 to a net +9.

    Obviously, that should be “from a net +14 to a net +11” not +9. Type in haste, repent at leisure.

  17. “Mark, it’s well established that CNN tends to over-sample Democrats in it’s polling”

    Established by whom? Where is your evidence for this?

  18. I ask this as an honest question, not as snark, but, seriously, Mark, is there ANY value whatsoever in these polls and their results?
    OK, they tell us people hate “Republicans”. And that has what effect in the real world?
    Does it change their voting behavior? Apparently not — Wisconsin has turned out as it has, and we all know the story of “Congressmen all suck, except mine”.
    Does it change their behavior in any non-voting way that matters? Maybe few enough people watch Fox news that it shuts down? Not as far as I can tell.
    Given that most political money comes from the rich, I find it unlikely that it has any important effect on the money flow.

    The one election that’s not local, where this might matter, is the presidential election. But we all know
    – what Obama’s Republican-lite political views are.
    – the limited control he has over domestic policy (not that he’s willing to even push that limited control hard).
    – there already exist pretty good political models for the factors that determine the re-election of presidents. We don’t learn anything useful from throwing away those models and inventing our own ad-hoc model.

    So does this have any more political relevance than learning that America’s feelings regarding _The Real Housewives of Atlantic City_ has fallen from 41%F/55%U to 33%F/59%U ?

  19. Moral of the story: Don’t trust Brett Bellmore.

    NOOO!!! Here I was still thinking that Obama was not born in the US because Brett Bellmore did not have metaphysical certitude about it, seeing as he wasn’t physically in the OR when BO was born, and that is the only way one can be certain of anything. You tell me that wasn’t a sound decision?

  20. Clark: It’s remarkably stupid to think that Obama wasn’t born in the US just because somebody else who DOES think he probably was refuses to assign a probability of 100.000000000% to it. Or it would be, if that hadn’t been lame sarcasm.

    Is there any value in the poll? Probably not. As I noted, they omitted information on the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in their sample, revealing which is pretty much SOP when polls have political salience.

    Mark, take, for instance, their Sept. 10, 2009 poll after Obama’s speech. Looked pretty good, until you found out they’d polled 45% Democrats and 18% Republicans.

  21. Mark, take, for instance, their Sept. 10, 2009 poll after Obama’s speech. Looked pretty good, until you found out they’d polled 45% Democrats and 18% Republicans.

    That poll was specifically of people who watched the speech. Relatively few Republicans chose to watch the speech, so relatively few Republicans were included in the poll. That was documented and explained clearly at the time the poll was reported.

    That is a completely different situation from CNN’s routine opinion polls. Once again, we see that Brett is misleading the RBC readership.

  22. Once again, we see that Brett is misleading the RBC readership.

    I believe him when he says that he was not in the OR when Obama was born, and any other evidence be damned, he therefore refuses to have metaphysical certitude that Obama was born in these United States.

  23. Clark, refusing to set certainty at 100.0 repeating percent isn’t a case of “any other evidence be damned”, it’s a case of understanding that, in response to evidence, one should only approach absolute certainty as an asymptote.

  24. Brett, I have long admired your principled lack of metaphysical certitude on certain matters like Obama’s birth.

  25. It’s on every matter, it’s just there are very few subjects where people go ape-sh*t if you don’t express absolute confidence in the context of limited evidence, and don’t demand that those with greater doubts go without easily provided evidence. One wonders sometimes if it wasn’t due to a subliminal worry that, against all odds, it would turn out that Obama wasn’t a natural born citizen.

  26. Mark, I think you are too optimistic. I’m no pollster. What I have to go on is my own circle of friends. I can tell you that there is an absurd number of conservatives among them, most of whom, though we are friends, follow the Murdoch line on Obama. Today I had a conversation with a friend of mine who said to me, and I quote: “ALL of his ideas failed, doing nothing but driving us further into recession and getting us involved into yet another war. Obama is a Commie who would love nothing more than to see the US turn into a Socialist nation. It’s going to get to the point were we would be able to fart without having to get approval from some government agency. Big government started with Bush, bigger government is happening with Obama. He has not fixed a damn thing with HIS ideas. No matter what anyone says to point out that fact, it’s shot down by Bush/Republican blaming, or are told they are racist. It’s sad that Libs cannot admit that their hero Obama turned out to be a flake. Even true hardcore Libs like Colmes, Mathews, or Maddow are sick of him. I would rather vote for Reagan than Obama. Yes, Reagan’s skeleton would get my vote before Obama.”

    I count no less than 10 FOX talking points in that rant, not to mention hostility towards “Libs,” despite the fact that he knows I am most definitely a liberal. He claims I worship Obama. And Mark, he is not the only one I’ve done the old face-palm about over the last two years. The WH is not controlling the message… and it’s making me very nervous indeed about 2012.

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