Image Credits: Reuters/Cheney Orr.
Reading polling results of public opinion in the United States makes me want to put my head in an oven. I imagine it’s not dissimilar to sitting in a doctor’s office and learning that you have Stage 5 cancer. We all knew that we’d die eventually, but it’s tough to get a firm timetable on the continuation of American democracy. It ends in January 2023, and now it’s all about palliative care for those who still give a shit.
Here’s a gem from Quinnipiac that should stop your heart.
A slight majority of Americans (52 percent) say the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, 6 percent say it has moved too far to the right, and 34 percent say it hasn’t moved too far in either direction.
A plurality (43 percent) say the Republican Party hasn’t moved too far in either direction, 35 percent say it has moved too far to the right, and 13 percent say it has moved too far to the left.
So, fifty-six percent of Americans disagree that the GOP has lurched out of the mainstream. Just yesterday, 207 House Republicans voted against censuring one of their members for posting a video on social media that depicted him killing a Democratic member and fighting President Biden with swords. Also this week, the Wyoming Republican Party formally ousted Liz Cheney, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, for the sin of being truthful about who won the 2020 presidential election. Despite these clear signs of newfound radicalism, a majority of the public thinks it’s the Democrats who have moved too far from the center.
Maybe you’re thinking that we’re just at a low point. Things will look up soon, surely, especially if Biden gets to sign his Build Back Better agenda into law. After all, the public really likes Biden’s agenda.
A majority, 58 – 38 percent, supports the roughly $2 trillion spending bill on social programs such as child care, education, family tax breaks, and expanding Medicare for seniors. The result is largely unchanged since early October.
But I’ve got news for you. Biden just signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which is also popular. The problem is that it was more popular before he signed it. It’s less so now.
A majority, 57 – 37 percent, supports the roughly $1 trillion spending bill to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, broadband and other infrastructure projects. It’s a dip since early October, when 62 percent supported it and 34 percent opposed.
The ink is hardly dry and already the public is souring.
The sad fact is that the people are pretty emphatic right now that they’d like to see the Republican Party back in power. They give Biden terrible marks on everything from foreign policy to COVID-19 to handling inflation to basic honesty, and although they say congressional Democrats are slightly more inclined than their Republican colleagues to “care about the needs and problems of people like them,” they still intend to vote for the Republicans.
Independents say 41 – 31 percent they would want to see Republicans win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while 28 percent did not offer an opinion.
Americans say 46 – 40 percent they would want to see the Republican Party win control of the U.S. Senate, while 15 percent did not offer an opinion. Independents say 44 – 34 percent that they would want to see the Republican Party win control of the U.S. Senate, and 22 percent did not offer an opinion.
If there’s any ray of light in these survey results, it’s that Trump remains a drag on the GOP.
If a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate strongly embraces former President Trump and his ideas, roughly 4 in 10 Americans (42 percent), say they would be less likely to vote for that candidate, 29 percent say they would be more likely to vote for that candidate, and 27 percent say it would have no impact.
But I have to throw a wet blanket on any inclination for optimism here. The Republicans are absolutely dominating us despite the drag Trump creates. If he were removed from the picture, things could quite possibly get much worse.
A Marquette Law School poll finds that 60 percent of Republican voters want Trump to run for president again despite leading a failed coup attempt. Fortunately, only 28 percent of the overall public agrees, and he suffers from an upside-down 32-65 favorability number. The Democrats got a rude awakening in Virginia and New Jersey when they discovered that their suburban advantage, on which they heavily rely, wasn’t very robust without Trump in the Oval Office or on the ballot.
Could things improve from here? Yes, the objective conditions and mood of the country can definitely get better between now and next November, but it won’t matter much because after the redistricting process is complete, the Republicans will have a built-in House majority and there will be almost no competitive congressional seats left to win or lose.
When most voters go to the polls to elect members of Congress next year, the general election will essentially be meaningless. That’s because winners are being determined right now, by a small number of party officials who are surgically ensuring preordained victories in the majority of the nation’s congressional districts.
It’s almost impossible to conceive on any scenario where the Republicans don’t win back the House of Representatives, and their odds of winning control of the U.S. Senate are better than fifty-fifty. This is true no matter what the Democrats do or don’t do over the next year.
As presently comprised, the Republican Party is fascist and undemocratic, and they will not allow free and fair elections going forward. What this means is that we’ll be powerless to organize the inevitable backlash and ride it back to power. They won’t concede elections that they lose, and that assumes we can even win elections for these noncompetitive seats that are overseen by radical election officials and even more radical state legislatures.
As of now, there’s still a semblance of normalcy. Rogue and threatening lawmakers are still held accountable in Congress and lose their committee seats. That won’t last.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested that Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) should expect to be on committees if Republicans take the House majority, NBC News reports.
Said McCarthy: “They’ll have committees. They may have other committee assignments. They may have better committee assignments.”
I’m not ordinarily a pessimist, but I always try to shoot straight with you. Some of what we’re witnessing are things I’ve warned about for years. One way I endured the Trump years was my complete confidence that we’d win congressional power back in the midterms and then deny Trump a second term. There were plenty of data to back up my confidence although it was a closer call than I expected. The metrics tell me something different now.
More than anything, they tell me that however much the people may have voted for Biden in the hope for a return to normalcy, there is no normalcy on the horizon and efforts to provide it aren’t going to be politically rewarded. The only hope is to start fighting as hard as the Republicans are fighting. That means using the law (since it still exists for a little while longer) very aggressively. It means the effort to right the ship through reestablishing norms will fail spectacularly.
I’d say that we should do away with the legislative filibuster and pass voter reforms, and that we should develop an intelligent and politically savvy legislative plan for 2022, and that we should do more and better messaging. But most of that won’t happen and the rest won’t be sufficient. The coup-plotters are in the driver’s seat and if we don’t have a radical and preemptive response, they’ll do next November what they failed to do on January 6.
And we won’t come back from that.