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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Greenberg on the Democrats

Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg had notable op-ed in The New York Times this weekend. He wondered why Republicans seem to be doing so well at a time of economic distress -- exactly when one might expect voters to support redistributive policies.
In analyzing these polls in the United States, I see clearly that voters feel ever more estranged from government — and that they associate Democrats with government. If Democrats are going to be encumbered by that link, they need to change voters’ feelings about government. They can recite their good plans as a mantra and raise their voices as if they had not been heard, but voters will not listen to them if government is disreputable.

Oddly, many voters prefer the policies of Democrats to the policies of Republicans. They just don’t trust the Democrats to carry out those promises.

He may be right about the trust part, but the policy preference part is more debatable. During the 2008 cycle, the polls showed a rightward shift in public opinion. And according to the latest Gallup survey, Americans' ideology looks similar to 2009 and 2010, with 41% identifying as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 21% as liberal.

Rather than treating deficit reduction as an “eat your peas moment,” progressives should embrace the liberal think tanks’ bold deficit plans, which would raise taxes more and defend progressive priorities.

That would be in the spirit of President Clinton’s first economic plan, which used a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts to cut the deficit. That laid the groundwork for a restoration in trust in government later in the 1990s.

He fails to note, however, that the 1993 budget contributed to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. And Republicans could argue that the presence of Republican majorities helped restore trust in government.