Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Obama Viewed As Winner In Tax Fight

One reason the Republicans may be doubling down on the upcoming fight over the debt ceiling is because they know they didn't come out of the "fiscal cliff" tax fight looking too good. And that view seems to be shared by Americans of all political stripes. A couple of new polls show that although many Americans are unsure of what to think about the new tax law, they seem to agree that President Obama emerged from the fight as the big winner.

First, we have the Pew Research Center survey (taken January 3rd through 6th). This poll showed that 57% of the American public believed President Obama got more of what he wanted from the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, while only 20% said the Republicans got more. And when people were asked if they approved or disapproved of how the president and the Republican leaders handled the negotiations, the president was again the clear winner, with the following numbers:

It's pretty obvious that the public was not happy with the Republicans behavior during the talks -- including a majority of the Republican in the survey. And a Washington Post/ABC News Poll (taken between January 2nd and 6th) showed much the same thing. In that survey, about 52% of people approved of the way President Obama handled the negotiations (while 37% disapproved) and only 31% approved of the way Speaker Boehner handled the negotiations (while 51% disapproved).

But the Republicans, especially the teabaggers, seem to think they are being viewed negatively because they lost that fight, and not because of the positions they took. They seem to think the public will back them if they shut the government down over the debt ceiling debate. I think they are wrong. They seem to forget that the public was very displeased when they tried that very thing in 2011 (and it cost the Republicans dearly in the polls -- going from a lead among the public to trailing the Democrats badly). All that fight did was tarnish the Republican brand, and probably contributed to their defeat in the 2012 election.

And there is one more poll the Republicans should take a hard look at -- the latest Rasmussen Poll. The Rasmussen Poll generally favors Republicans and their positions, but it shows the teabaggers (whose policies they are currently pursuing) have fallen out of favor with the American people. Only 8% of the people are now willing to say they are a member of the teabagger movement (while 24% said that in 2010). And only 30% believe that movement is a good thing for this country, while 49% disapprove of the movement (and 21% are undecided).

In following their current policies, designed to appeal to their teabagger base, the Republicans are appealing to a shrinking minority. It might sell OK in their own primaries, but it will not sell in the 2014 general election -- because it brands them as extremists who don't have the good of the country at heart. Personally, I hope the GOP continues down this road, because I believe it is leading that party to irrelevance in every part of the country but the South.

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