There is something curious going on with the American people as voters, and it is difficult to determine exactly what the problem is. Oh it is true that voters, particularly Republican voters, are inherently ignorant, even stupid, but it does not entirely explain why they consistently vote against their own best self-interests. It is also true that even when conservatives are dissatisfied with their Republican representatives and candidates performance, or lack thereof, they still show up at the ballot box and re-elect them reliably. And so it is that despite a new Pew Research poll showing that Republicans have lost significant support among the population, particularly with Republican voters, it is not necessarily a good sign for Democrats and certainly not a reason to celebrate.
In what should be an obvious poll result, the Republican Party’s image has grown more negative overall during the first half of this year. Currently, only 32 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60 percent have an unfavorable view; that is what happens after six months of raving lunacy and anti-everything extremism borne of truly obscene presidential candidate’s positions. The favorable views of the GOP have tumbled eighteen percentage points since January.
Democrats continue holding steady, although not stellar, ratings with mixed results of 48 percent favorability as opposed to 47 percent unfavorable, but that is nothing new. Although, that slight Democratic favorability advantage narrowed slightly after Republican extremists prevailed in the 2014 midterms and took control of the entire Congress, the recent poll results reveal the gap in favor of Democrats is wider now than it has been in over two years.
It should surprise no-one, not even Republicans, that Democrats still hold wide advantages over the GOP on empathy and honesty, and are viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me” by 53 percent to 31 percent; they also lead Republicans “on governing in an honest and ethical way (45 percent to 29 percent). However, none of this is new and despite the extremism, complete lack of ethics, dishonesty, and blatant disregard for the American people, Republicans remain a force that liberals, progressives, and rank-and-file Democrats continue to underestimate like they have since 2010. Perhaps it is because they are so desperate for good news that just learning that Democratic candidates are drawing large crowds, or favored by voters, convinces them that Republicans are finished as a political force. Nothing is farther from the truth despite the fact that most Americans believe that Democrats do serve the interests of the people; all the people.
On the issues that actually matter to most Americans, like the economy and jobs, Democrats hold a ‘slight’ edge over Republicans which is another reminder that Americans are not the smartest, or most observant, people on the planet. Perhaps they fail to see the monthly job or quarterly growth reports, or maybe they are only seeing that they are working longer and harder and losing economic ground to corporate profits. However, overall Democrats maintain commanding double-digit leads among Americans as the party better able and willing to serve the best interests of the people.
For example, no matter how much Republicans fear monger, campaign and work to eliminate environmental protections for their Koch masters, the poll showed that Democrats are viewed more favorably by a substantial margin of 53 percent to 27 percent in preserving a safe and clean environment. On protecting American women’s Constitutional rights to make their own personal health and reproductive decisions without evangelical men interfering, Democrats hold a 50 to 31 percent advantage. On protecting every American’s right to basic healthcare and a decent education, Democrats are viewed as more competent than Republicans by 46 percent to 34 percent.
The only areas that Republicans hold an advantage over Democrats is their loving embrace of the NRA’s opposition to any sane gun safety measures and in dealing with their racist, anti-American and violent base’s homegrown terrorists threats; likely because they hail them as heroic patriots and “real Americans” instead of calling for action, and justice, against seditionists that would mean bloodshed.
Republicans, in particular, are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About two-thirds (68%) express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years, and unsurprisingly the whole of the Republican Party is viewed as more extreme in its positions than Democrats. After seven straight months of inability to get anything done, especially for the people, it is hardly news that the GOP as a party lost favor among its own supporters; in January a solid 86 percent of Republicans viewed the GOP very positively, but that was just before extremists seeking the Republican nomination for president came crawling out of the woodwork. The study’s current findings that positive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86 percent to 68 percent. It is a substantial slide in popularity, but it should not send Democrats into a celebratory mood by any means, even when the GOP has lost significant levels of favor among independent voters.
Surveys and polling are not accurate predictors of the results of an election, and the 2014 midterms should be a reminder to Democrats that Republicans, no matter how unpopular, how extremist, how harmful to the people and how incompetent are more than competitive and more adept at manipulating voters than most Democrats. It is not a knock on Democrats that run as strong Democrats, they prevailed in 2014, but it is a warning to any “Republican-lite” Democrat and over-confident voters who believe Republicans are so despised, so extremist and so incompetent that they cannot emerge from any election victorious.
It is noteworthy that in the lead up to the 2014 midterms there were perpetual “good news” polls and stories showing that Republicans, particularly incumbents, were highly unpopular and badly trailing their opposition. In states such as Kansas, as a prime example, where the state was hemorrhaging revenue, suffered several credit downgrades, education, transportation and social services were cut drastically so the rich could retain tax cuts, the failed Governor Sam Brownback won re-election; this after a substantial number of Kansas Republicans endorsed his Democratic opponent. That scenario, although not as severe in some other Republican-led states, was repeated across the nation, and Republicans now control the entire Congress.
American voters, particularly those who support Republicans, are a strange breed indeed; and they are relatively stupid according to several scientific studies. On the one hand they are unhappy and do not approve of the job their GOP heroes are doing, and yet they continue voting for them over and over again. They are also very confused as evidenced in the 2014 midterm when four Republican states overwhelmingly approved raising the minimum wage, and then sent Republicans to Washington who want to abolish the minimum wage or at least never raise it again. Democratic voters, while more intelligent than Republicans according to peer-reviewed studies, are foolish enough to believe that just because a poll shows their hero leading, and pundits claim Republicans are struggling and running scared, their candidates do not need their vote and will cruise to a landslide victory. Remember, it was alleged that in Kentucky a fictional restaurant character, Colonel Sanders, was more popular that now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; McConnell won re-election easily.
Polls and surveys are fine, they even have some entertainment value, but they are no substitute for registering voters, volunteering for candidates’ campaigns, or dog forbid, actually showing up to vote. Of course Republicans are unpopular and losing favor with their own base; even Republican voters recognize abject failure and raging extremism. However, Republicans reliably show up to vote regardless what polls, surveys, pundits or even their extremist candidates say. It is particularly true among the most extreme conservatives whether they are teabaggers, theocrats, gun zealots, or anti-government seditionists and it is a fact of life Democrats can hardly afford to ignore.