Earlier this week we discussed the serious political headwinds that Democrats are facing this election cycle. They are playing defense on a lot of turf that is traditionally friendly to Republicans, President Obama is increasingly unpopular, Obamacare continues to be a drag, and the political momentum is clearly in the GOP’s favor.
But what about policy?
After all, Republicans should not exactly be thrilled for their long-term chances of retaining the Senate if this election cycle is solely about turning anti-Obama fervor in votes for the GOP. We want candidates to be elected because they were voted for, not because voters cast their ballots against the president.
Fortunately, plenty of polling shows that Democrats’ ideas and plans are completely out of sync with the larger mood of the electorate. That gives Republicans a significant opportunity to use this momentum to build a foundation of policy successes on which a sustained majority can be built.
According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, when averaged across party identification, the top three issues that voters care about are: (1) jobs and the economy, (2) Obamacare, and (3) foreign policy.
Currently, Democrats don’t hold an advantage on any of those issues.
On the economic front, despite slow progress on the unemployment rate and a string of semi-positive job reports, Americans remain unhappy about the direction of the national economy. Josh Boak reports for the Associated Press:
Americans are more anxious about the economy now than they were right after the Great Recession ended despite stock market gains, falling unemployment and growth moving closer to full health.
Seventy-one percent of Americans say they think the recession exerted a permanent drag on the economy, according to a survey being released Thursday by Rutgers University. By contrast, in November 2009, five months after the recession officially ended, the Rutgers researchers found that only 49 percent thought the downturn would have lasting damage.
Moreover, a recent poll from the Pew Research Center shows that a mere 22 percent of Americans think things will be better a year from now – the lowest since the recession ended in 2008.
The widespread economic pessimism is the result of failed Democratic policies – ones that stifle innovation, burden businesses with taxes and red tape, and can’t adapt to the modern, complex economy. The result is that voters are increasingly looking to Republicans for ideas on how to improve economic expansion and job growth. A new NBC/WSJ poll finds that voters favor Republicans on handling the economy by a 13 point margin – the largest GOP advantage since 1995.
Democrats’ health care policies don’t fare much better. Sarah Ferris reports for The Hill:
Public approval of ObamaCare continued to sink this summer, issuing the latest warning for vulnerable Democrats who will face voters this fall after backing the law.
Just 35 percent of voters now support the Affordable Care Act, down 3 percentage points from May, according to a monthly poll by the Kaiser Health Foundation released on Tuesday. Support for the healthcare overhaul law once stood at 50 percent, just weeks after it was signed in 2010.
It’s clear that Obamacare as it currently stands is broken – it incentivizes employers to shift to part-time workers, it disincentives low-income workers from staying in the workforce at all, it accelerates the rise of health costs, and it disproportionately raises insurance prices for young adults. There is a better way, which is why Republicans like Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Tom Coburn have offered a free market alternative.
Finally, President Obama and his administration have proved to be in over their heads when it comes to world affairs. Nearly everything he has touched has fallen to pieces. Afghanistan remains a hotbed of terrorism, Libya continues to harbor jihadists that are destabilizing Africa, Bashar Al-Assad remains in control of Syria, Iraq was nearly toppled by increasingly dangerous ISIS forces, Israel and Palestine are far from peace, North Korea continues its aggressive stance, Russia is testing the boundaries of Ukraine and China is establishing hegemony in the Pacific.
As the world continues to fall apart, the issue of foreign policy continues to grow in importance. A recent WSJ/NBC poll shows that 35 percent of voters say that international issues are either more or equally as important as domestic issues to their vote. Moreover, Obama’s bumbling approach to the ISIS threat, to which he previously admitted he had no plan to deal with, has diminished his credibility among voters. Polling shows that a mere 32 percent approve of the job President Obama is doing in handling foreign policy while 62 percent disapprove. Furthermore, Republicans hold an 18 point advantage when voters are asked who they trust to deal with foreign policy, an 11 percent increase since last year, and the highest margin recorded since June 2002.
Taken together, it’s clear that Democrats are facing clear political headwinds. But it’s also clear that voters have roundly rejected their party’s policy ideas. It’s time for fresh new ideas to usher America back into greatness. That starts in November.