A new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that conservative talk show host and GOP powerhouse Rush Limbaugh and White House aides and allies are wrong: only a small percentage of Republicans considers Limbaugh their leader:
Despite efforts by the Obama political team and its surrogates to link Rush Limbaugh to the Republican Party, just 11% of GOP voters say the conservative radio commentator is the party’s leader.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republican voters disagree and 8% are undecided in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Democrats, however, are closely divided– 44% say Limbaugh is the Republican leader and 41% don’t believe it. Among voters not affiliated with either of the major national parties, 27% say Limbaugh is the Republicans’ leader, while 58% say he is not and 15% are undecided.
Rasmussen Reports is testing public reaction to a series of quotes made by newsmakers recently. For this topic, respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party. He says jump, and they say how high.”
However, despite a report creating a stir on the Internet about how White House aides and allies are trying to make Limbaugh a symbol, the fact is Limbaugh is hardly a victim — and in fact both sides now are in a symbotic relationship
*Limbaugh gets to increase his clout within the party, gets lots of new and old media publicity (even if negative it promotes him as a name brand), and the controversy will also likely greatly increase his listenership among those upset over Obama’s far-reaching proposals. Unless some GOPers feel they have to somehow detach their party from him because he endangers the party’s electoral fortunes, Liimbaugh only stands to gain if the uproar continues. (The Drudge Report had a screaming headline suggesting the controversy over Limbaugh was all a Democratic plot –which doesn’t quite make sense given the fact that Limbaugh has not exactly had duct tape over his mouth the past few weeks…or last weekend).
*The White House gets a “high concept” symbol of someone who is anathema to most Democrats and many independent voters — and also to some young people who consider right and left rage-filled screamfests over “liberal” and “conservative” and how the other political party is full of personified demons lame. It will be difficult for the GOP to expand its tent if it’s most visible and recognizable symbol isn’t a major politician but a talk show host who seems perpetually angry and mocking — and who is exclusionary due to the way that talk show hosts have to be solidify and keep a demographic to deliver to advertisers. Limbaugh is a superb broadcaster – and a smart businessman.
The question now becomes how the GOP apparatus and political elites can get the message out that the poll suggests thk of Republicans would like to get out (understanding that polls are never entirely accurate); Limbaugh is a Republican, but not THE Republican for them.
But the White House and Limbaugh may have other priorities…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.