Kevin Drum spotlights a very interesting new WaPo poll:
… Americans trust Democrats more to handle the country’s problems, they think Democrats represent their values better, they think Democrats are more concerned with the needs of people like them, and they think Democrats deserve to be reelected at a higher rate than Republicans. They also think (though I didn’t show it below) that George Bush is substantially more to blame for our economic woes than Barack Obama.And the result of all this? They say they plan to vote for Republicans by landslide numbers. It’s the economy, stupid.
Greg Sargent sees the poll results as a sign that the Republican Party has succeeded in separating itself in the public mind from the previous administration’s economic policies:
What if voters are simply not buying the central Dem message that a vote for the GOP is a vote to return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground? What if the GOP has already achieved separation from the former president?
The internals of the two national polls out this morning strongly suggest that this may be the case. And though people are mostly focused on the bad news for Dems in the toplines, the failure of the Dem Bush message to resonate may be among the most ominous findings of all.
Take the new Washington Post/ABC News poll. It finds that a healthy 60 percent blame Bush policies for the current state of the economy, versus only 42 percent who blame Obama. The number who blame Bush has fallen slightly, but it has remained relatively stable.
At the same time, however, the poll also finds, for the first time, that more registered voters trust Republicans on the economy than trust Dems, 43-39. The obvious conclusion: People are simply not linking their conclusion that Bush policies are to blame for our economic mess to their evaluation of how the current GOP would handle it.
What’s more, the new NBC/WSJ poll asked the Bush question directly, and found that barely more than a third believe the GOP wants to return to Bush policies[.]
Jon Walker suggests it’s a structural problem:
The problem, of course, is that we have a two-party system. While they have been in control for the past two years, Democrats have failed to improve the lot of most Americans, and, as a result, voters want to punish them. Because of our two-party system, voting for the Republican Party is most often the only way Americans have to punish the Democrats.
And vice versa, of course. The shallowness and narrowness that results from having only two major parties to choose from, in combination with a political system that gives the minority party enormous power to obstruct, makes it very difficult to make voting decisions on the basic of larger principles and values.
When things are going poorly, the incumbent party takes its licks whether or not people like the opposition.