Friday, March 25, 2005

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that support for George Bush and the Republican leadership have fallen. Bush's approval has fallen to 45%, while support for the Congressional leadership has also fallen.

The bad news is that this translates into marginal improvements for the Democrats. The number of people identifying themselves as Democrats did increase from 32% to 37% in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, but the Pew Research Center Poll shows that people don't feel any better about the Democratic leadership.

The Democrats aren't able to capitalize on the Republicans misfortunes. The public opposes the President's Social Security schemes, but the Democrats have not offered any alternatives. The public opposes the Republicans on the intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, but have not heard a coherent position from the Democrats.

There are a few factors in play in the Schiavo case:

  1. Some felt it helpful to let the Republicans damage themselves over this on their own. The problem is that it is not guaranteed that the Democrats actually benefit from public opposition to the Republican position

  2. This may have been part of a deal to prevent a more widespread law from being written. This still leaves the impression of a Republican victory in Congress and nobody knows what the Democrats thought.

  3. Republicans have been much better than Democrats at articulating a coherent underlying philosophy for at least 20 years, which has contributed to their control of all three branches of government

  4. Democrats don't have the synergy with media the Republicans do. There are more spokesmen besides the leaders of the House and Senate. This was a good issue for Dean to speak out on but his comments received little publicity. If it was the Republicans, his comments would be all over Fox and talk radio at very least. This could also be a good issue for Kerry with his religious background, but his comments were butchered by being turned into a short sound bit.
These aren't problems which can be solved overnight. In an age of coverage based upon sound bites and brief news reports, the Democrats can't easily get across a coherent philosophy without any previous history in the minds of the public--but they most start somewhere. The Republicans have had a long head start on outlining their philosophyt to the public, making it easier to speak in sound bites on any single issue. I recently discussed one attempts by Democrats to do this in the Principles Project. I agreed with some people who commented that this was too long winded and sometimes poorly written, and even disagreed on some specifics in their ideas, but do find it hopeful that some Democrats are thinking along these lines.

Related Posts:

Kerry Sticks to Liberal Values at Kennedy Library Foundation Award
The Era of Big Government is Back--Under George Bush
The Rights of the Individual vs. The State
Liberalism Is A Demanding Faith


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