The Repub­li­can come­back

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Don­ald Lam­bro

Amer­i­can pol­i­tics passed the mid­point mark last week be­tween the Repub­li­cans’ 2008 losses and the 2010 midterm elec­tions, when polls point to Repub­li­can Party gains in Congress and the gov­er­nor­ships.

The Repub­li­can Party clearly has got­ten its act to­gether, mount­ing a united front in Congress against Pres­i­dent Obama’s fis­cal and eco­nomic agenda, and grad­u­ally is winning back its rank-and-file base and winning sup­port from the large bloc of in­de­pen­dent swing vot­ers who have been flee­ing Mr. Obama in droves.

Repub­li­cans in both the House and Se­nate have come to­gether to fight Mr. Obama’s eco­nomic stim­u­lus plan, his health care takeover, his en­ergy tax pro­pos­als in the name of a fic­ti­tious cli­mate change, and the rest of his big spending plans.

For any­one who came in late to this story, vot­ers seem to be sid­ing more with the Repub­li­cans on the big points than with Mr. Obama and the Democrats.

As the Se­nate be­gan tak­ing up the Democrats’ health care bill last week, the Gallup Poll re­ported Nov. 30 that 49 per­cent of Amer­i­can vot­ers said they would urge their mem­bers of Congress to vote against the bill, while 44 per- cent said they would ad­vise them to sup­port it.

On the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ir­re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion to bring Sept. 11, 2001, mas­ter­mind Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed and four oth­ers to New York for a civil­ian crim­i­nal trial, Amer­i­cans, by a lop­sided 59 per­cent to 36 per­cent, say they should be tried in a mil­i­tary court for swift and cer­tain jus­tice.

Demo­cratic leaders and rank-and-file law­mak­ers, who have been widely crit­i­cal of Mr. Obama’s de­ci­sion to send more troops to Afghanistan, ap­pear to be sig­nif­i­cantly out of sync with Amer­i­cans on this score, too. Gallup found that nearly half of Amer­i­cans polled (47 per­cent) sup­port in­creas­ing the num­ber of U.S. troops in the war against the Tal­iban. Thirty-nine per­cent want to re­duce troop lev­els there.

Some big po­lit­i­cal move­ments are go­ing against the Democrats on a num­ber of fronts, as I’ve detailed in this col­umn over the past sev­eral months.

But here in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, the lib­eral Wash­ing­ton Post is find­ing it hard to rec­og­nize that. In a front-page story Nov. 30, the Post ran an­other of its sweep­ing polling sto­ries fo­cus­ing on the ir­rel­e­vant ques­tions and avoid­ing the harder ones.

Un­der the head­line “A party both united and di­vided,” the story said the Repub­li­can Party’s “op­po­si­tion to Obama is strong” (no kid­ding), “but Repub­li­cans are split on GOP’s di­rec­tion and leaders.”

Its an­a­lyt­i­cal spin on the poll’s find­ings, the Post re­ported, “re­veals deep dis­sat­is­fac­tion among GOP vot­ers with the party’s lead­er­ship as well as ide­o­log­i­cal and gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences that may prove big ob­sta­cles to the party’s plans for re­claim­ing power.“

The story was based in part on a key polling ques­tion that asked, “In your view, is the lead­er­ship of the Repub­li­can party cur­rently tak­ing the party in the right di­rec­tion or in the wrong di­rec­tion?” Well, nearly half, 49 per­cent, said “right di­rec­tion,” while 42 per­cent said “wrong di­rec­tion.

Had it asked more specif­i­cally whether the party’s lead­er­ship against the stim­u­lus spending bill was the right or wrong di­rec­tion, or op­po­si­tion to the health care bill or to the en­ergy bill, the an­swers would have been lop­sided in fa­vor of the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship.

In an at­tempt to prove that Repub­li­can vot­ers were di­vided, the Post asked which Repub­li­can leader best re­flected the Repub­li­can Party’s “core val­ues.” The re­sults were pre­dictably di­vided, with a large “no opin­ion” — as one would ex­pect them to be nearly three years be­fore the 2012 elec­tions, and as they were for the Democrats in 2005.

You would search in vain in this story to find any polling ev­i­dence that Amer­i­cans are al­most evenly di­vided over which party they would sup­port in next year’s con­gres­sional midterms (as Gallup and other polls have re­ported).

The Post poll notwith­stand­ing, vot­ers are telling other poll­sters that they are not happy with their Demo­cratic lead­er­ship. Con­necti­cut Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd is in deep trou­ble in his re-elec­tion bid. Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Harry Reid, if the elec­tion were held to­day, would be sent home. Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den Jr.’s for­mer Se­nate seat in Delaware is a pos­si­ble Repub­li­can pickup.

The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate has changed dra­mat­i­cally in a num­ber of Demo­cratic-trend­ing states as vot­ers have turned sour on the ma­jor­ity party’s han­dling of the econ­omy, spending and a mon­strous debt that threat­ens to sand­bag the na­tion’s fis­cal sta­bil­ity and global credit.

For ex­am­ple: The Colum­bus Dis­patch re­ported last month that Ohio is turn­ing a “red­dish tinge,” and it wasn’t talk­ing about its au­tumn colors.

Polls were show­ing that Repub­li­cans were threat­en­ing to take back the state’s gov­er­nor­ship and hold an open Se­nate seat. A Quin­nip­iac poll of 1,123 vot­ers found that half said they dis­ap­proved of the job Mr. Obama was do­ing, up from 42 per­cent in Septem­ber.

The Nov. 11 poll found that a stun­ning 64 per­cent of Ohioans are ei­ther some­what or very dis­sat­is­fied with the way Democrats are han­dling things in the Buck­eye State.

“The Demo­cratic lead in the gov­er­nors’ and Se­nate races has evap­o­rated, and for the first time, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is un­der wa­ter in the most im­por­tant swing state in the coun­try,” said Quin­nip­iac polling an­a­lyst Peter Brown.

The run-up to next year’s midterm elec­tions is a work in progress, but it’s in­creas­ingly clear that the Repub­li­can Party is slowly gain­ing po­lit­i­cal strength and the Democrats are los­ing it.

Don­ald Lam­bro is chief po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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