Voters' Ire Spells Dems' Doom

Donald Lambro
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Posted: Jun 22, 2010 7:42 PM
Voters' Ire Spells Dems' Doom

WASHINGTON -- A palpable mood of frustration and fear is coursing though the Obama administration and its Democratic counsels in the face of a growing political wave that threatens to engulf them all in the coming elections.

If political ire is indeed the mother's milk of our elections, then the forces now building up against the Democrats are mighty indeed.

The Gallup Poll reports "an average of 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents told (them) that they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year, the highest average in a midterm election year since 1994," which was when the GOP took full control of the Democratic Congress.

Obama's unpopularity has a lot to do with his party's troubles, and he is sinking fast. Voters disapproved of his policies by 48 percent to 44 percent, Gallup said last week.

"Registered voters are largely split on whether President Obama deserves to be re-elected in 2012, with 46 percent saying he does and 51 percent saying he does not," Gallup reported Monday.

This mounting opposition is now as thick and poisonous as the crude oil that's killing the fishing industry and disfiguring beaches and marshlands along the Gulf coast.

Despite all of the White House's litigious fulminations and criminal investigations, a majority of Americans do not believe he has done nearly enough to tackle the problem of the oil leak over a two-month period as the pleas of Gulf state officials go unanswered.

But there are other wider catastrophes building against Obama and his party that are not going away, and if anything, will get worse:

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-- A jobless, anemic condition that threatens to cut the Democratic congressional majority to a near minority.

-- A job-killing health care plan that is driving up costs, endangering private insurance plans and frightening seniors to death.

-- A storm of uncertainty in our financial markets about the damage that all of this is doing to the stock markets, pensions and future economic growth.

Obama's "policies have seriously impaired the economy's normal capacity to create jobs," Stanford economist John Cogan told me.

"The health care law's mandates are already raising the cost of health insurance premium quotes next year and, as a consequence, it's raising the prospective cost of hiring new employees. The health care bill's taxes have hurt the normally recession-proof pharmaceutical and medical device companies," Cogan said.

Worse, "the massive budget deficits have created the prospect of large tax increases next year, which have put a damper on hiring in all private economic sectors," he continued.

Obamanomics created a pitiful 41,000 jobs last month, nowhere near the pace to make a dent in 10 percent unemployment. Job growth exploded by 15 million jobs over five years between 1983 and 1988, slashing unemployment from more than 10 percent to 6 percent, under Ronald Reagan's tax-cut policies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The bottom line is that American workers are paying a hefty price for the anti-free market policies being pursued by the administration," Cogan said.

Next to the weak Obama economy, the unpopular health care law will be a chief complaint dictating how Americans will vote this fall. Democrats knew they did not have majority support in the country when they passed it, but they believed that once voters learned more about it, their reforms would work in their favor in the election.

Stanford political professor David Brady and two colleagues at the Hoover Institution poll-tested this proposition last month in 11 Senate battleground contests and "found widespread opposition to reform -- and to the Democratic senators who voted in favor of it."

In Louisiana, for example, voters opposed Obamacare 64 percent to 36 percent. In Colorado and Ohio, voters rejected it by 56 percent to 44 percent and 57 percent to 42 percent respectively, they said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

In their statistical model to test the effect of voter opinion on health care, they discovered that "opinion about reform had a statistically significant and important impact on the voters' intention to vote against the [Senate] Democratic candidate."

Voters who opposed health reform were around 20 percentage points more likely to vote for the Republican candidate.

Notably, the law's effect is far more politically lethal in the House races, where voters are 44 points more likely to vote Republican.

"This is consistent with Charles Franklin's poll analysis in Pollster.com showing that for the first time since 1994, Republicans lead in the generic ballot," they noted.

Their analysis, plus a stream of supporting poll data, shows that independents will be the driving force in this election cycle. Obama and the Democrats have lost their support in droves.

The administration and Democratic House and Senate leaders made an arrogant gamble on health care in defiance of the voters, whom they believed would do what they were told.

Combine this decision with a deeply flawed economic policy that breaks every lesson of prosperity and growth and Obama's failure to act in the Gulf oil disaster, and you have a toxic political brew that is going to end the careers of a lot of incumbents on Nov. 2.