Obama is not worried about his popularity. Sure he has a huge media shield and a massive entourage manufacturing his popularity for him, but he could use that to coast the way that Bill Clinton did. Instead Obama uses it to play chicken over his unpopular policies. And he wins because unlike Republicans he’s not terrified to death of his poll numbers slipping.
His poll numbers are down now, but he knows that they’ll be back up again. If he panicked every time his poll numbers slid, then he’d be a Republican.
As Jeff Dunetz points out, poll numbers go down and then back up.
Look at the giant GOP approval drop beginning in 2008, that was the beginning of the Republican movement to Impeach Bill Clinton, as the the House voted for impeachment and the Senate held the trial (February 2009) GOP approval took a nose dive. That low of 31% was the lowest approval rating for the GOP ever (until earlier this week).
Yet just 21 months later the Republicans won the White House.
The swing vote does not have enduring likes or dislikes. If it did, it wouldn’t swing. Furthermore, as J.E. Dyer points out, the negative results represent three perspectives. Those of Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters. All three may hate the Republican Party at a given time, but for different reasons.
Only 27% of respondents think Republicans are standing up for what they believe in – and yet more than 70% of respondents (the actual figure was 74%) think Republicans are putting their agenda ahead of what’s good for the country? How can that be?
Here’s how: a meaningful number of the respondents are conservative Republicans (call them the “Tea Party,” for short) who are disappointed with GOP leaders, because the conservative respondents don’t think GOP leaders are standing up for Republican beliefs. Those respondents add to the number who are predisposed to blame or dislike Republicans for other reasons.
We’re predisposed to treat statistical polling results as a whole. Much like all those headlines about the internet going gaga for one thing or another. But there is no collective whole. There is no internet. No people.
The Republican establishment, which does business, lives in urban liberal areas and have become too used to thinking of themselves as outsiders. They are always reflexively defensive and afraid of being denounced.
It’s become a sickness. They dream of another Reagan, but their ideal Reagan is beloved without ever taking controversial positions. He stands for nothing, but everyone loves him. That’s not the real Reagan, who was often angry and combative, but the imaginary liberal view of Reagan as an actor and a hollow shell.
I mean just look at this angry Tea Party activist. He’s up there ranting about the debt like some Ted Cruz or something. And worst of all, he looks and sounds angry. He learned to tone that down. But not nearly as often as the haze of memory tells us he did. This was a man who stood for something. Who believed in and fought for things.
Who took political risks.
And you can hear echoes of that here as well. Talk about the rule of people? The people aren’t supposed to rule themselves. And they didn’t. They let Wilson and FDR rule them.
But that is what it’s really about. The willingness to confront the real issues. You may not always win, but if your ambition is to be Chaunchey Gardiner, then you’ll never win. And even when you win the elections, you lose the policy.
The left chose to fight for something. And they’ve taken over the Democratic Party. And the Republican Dream is to find this guy and run him for public office on the theory that he’ll be really popular.