[Posted by Karl]
The Democrats’ political erosion continues, even in the dKos tracking poll:
A good part of this has been base driven. In August, the Republican base was slightly more likely to view their party unfavorably (23%) than was the Democratic base (20%). Today, Democrats are four times more likely to view their party negatively (24%) than are Republicans (6%).
There has also been Independent movement, however. The favorability rating of Democrats among Independent voters has shed seven points in that four-month span (42 to 35) while the GOP has seen their favorability rating with Independents go up eleven points, although in fairness increases in support are easier to attain when you are starting, essentially, at zero (from 5 to 16).
We also see, in this weeks tracking poll, that while Democrats still lead on our variation of the generic ballot test (by four points), they trail for the first time with Independents. This is particularly notable, because the favorability rating for Democrats among Indies, while down quite a bit (35/61), is far stronger than that of the GOP among Indies, which is still pathetic even as it has improved markedly (16/73).
Pundits like Kevin Drum continue to fret over whether Dems are sunk:
Is lefty obsession with the public option going to torpedo Dems in 2010? Or will everyone manage to get energized in time for the midterms?
(Drum’s short piece is amusing, insofar as he admits his first instinct was to laugh off attacks on the Dems unprecedented spending binge, but I digress.)
Pres. Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, maintains that liberals will ultimately come back into the fold when it matters in forthcoming elections. He is almost certainly right — and, as far as he goes, it’s not even a gutsy prediction. As Tom Jensen of Dem polling firm Public Policy Polling notes, liberal unhappiness with Obama is not very widespread.
However, approval does not necessarily translate into intensity, which is the lefty bloggers’ real concern. Generally, the party out of power tends to have more intensity, while the past winners get complacent or apathetic. That the netroots are disgruntled matters primarily to the extent that it reflects on the narrow class of activists and party foot-soldiers needed to run the midterm campaigns. OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers recently wrote about the nature of that disgruntlement:
Destroying a political base often isn’t only about one single issue, even an issue as important as a war. It’s about a set of issues and, even further, an overall feeling of demoralization – one that can’t be turned around a few weeks before an election with some cynical press releases and inspiring speeches.
So sure, the politics of the Afghanistan War are still fluid. But when you put the escalation next to Obama’s wavering on the public option; next to his broken promises of transparency; next to his stances on the Patriot Act and Gitmo; next to his full-on abandonment of his NAFTA pledges – well, you get the kind of demoralization that Kos’s new poll shows.
Bowers may reveal a bit more here than he intended. The Left (and its echo chambers in the establishment media) have been arguing that the Democrats must pass ObamaCare to save themselves in 2010. But if some version of it passes, its substance is likely to disappoint the netroots/activist class, while still motivating Republicans and Independents to vote against Democrats.
Moreover, we rarely hear the netroots or activists pushing the idea that Obama’s policies on Afghanistan or indefinite detention will cost Democrats the 2010 election. The Left aggressively promotes the idea that global warming will destroy Earth as we know it, yet we rarely hear them claim that the Democrats’ failure to pass the cap-and-tax bill so far dooms Democrats next year. If Bowers is correct, passing ObamaCare should have very little effect on Democratic turn out in 2010. If Bowers is wrong, the Left’s selective kamikaze approach speaks volumes about the depth of their obsession with ObamaCare.