Monday, August 03, 2015

New Pew Poll: Bad News for the GOP

I often describe the Republican Party as an insane asylum that has been taken over by the inmates.  Now a new Pew Research Center survey suggests that I am not alone in that assessment.  The timing, of course, could not be worse for the GOP as it prepares for its first presidential candidate circus debate this week where the party's complete dysfunction will be on national display.  Pandering to the lunatics of the GOP base may make sense in a primary battle, but people are watching and are unlikely to forget batshitery in the primary come the general election.  A piece in The Hill looks at the GOP self-inflicted predicament.  Here are highlights: 
Given the nation’s historical preference for switching the party in the White House every eight years, the Grand Old Party should be having a grand old time heading into the 2016 races.
But a new Pew poll shows the party’s brand falling off a cliff, even among Republicans.
The late July poll found only 32 percent of voters holding a “favorable impression” of the GOP and 60 percent taking an “unfavorable view.” An early July Gallup poll also finds the Republican Party struggling for its footing on a steep downward slope, with only a 35 percent approval rating.
The biggest surprise is Pew’s finding that the slide in GOP support is primarily the result of Republican voters pulling away from Republican politicians.
At the start of the year, 86 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of their party. That figure has now fallen to 68 percent. According to Pew, that is “the lowest share in more than two years.” The poll also found an 8-point drop in the number of independent voters who view the GOP favorably, from 37 percent down to 29 percent. It is not surprising that, among Democrats, the view of the GOP has worsened amid its disarray. Only 14 percent of Democrats hold a favorable view of the GOP, down from 18 percent.
It is a surprise that backbiting, anger and contempt are this summer’s themes for Republicans. Just last November, after midterm election victories, the GOP base was energized and slinging darts at President Obama.
Now those same Republican are firing inside the tent, and with special delight at Republicans in Congress.
The depth of the disillusionment is clear. Only 28 percent of Republican voters give Congress a favorable rating, even though Republicans are in the majority in both houses.
The Pew poll can be read as evidence of the far right’s unhappiness with Republican leaders for not breaking down all attempts to govern. One of the few poll findings on which the GOP wins big comes when all voters are asked which party is “more extreme in its position.” Fifty-two percent of Americans now tell Pew that the GOP is a party of extremists while only 35 percent hold that opinion of Democrats. 
It is also worth noting that while the Republicans are taking turns lashing each other, the Pew poll found Democrats gaining in favorability among voters. “Today the gap [between the Democrats and the Republicans] is as wide as it has been in more than two years,” and moving in favor of the Democrats, Pew reported.
Republicans who were elected to Congress as part of the Tea Party wave in the 2010 and 2012 elections have never shown an interest in governing. Instead, they drive the activist base of the party with acid rhetoric suited for talk-show hosts. They engage in political brinksmanship, forcing one crisis after another but shredding the party’s brand with voters.
The GOP is currently a smashing talk-radio show or reality TV. But as a political party with responsibility to govern, its poll numbers are sinking under the table well ahead of November 2016 – the ultimate ratings period.

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