After Obama Victory: Rifts Deepen, Confidence Drops

Since the 2012 election, polls have been telling a tale of two cities. In one tale, the Republican brand is destroyed beyond all recognition and destined to spend several long political cycles in some Luddite-inspired state of suspended animation. The other tale is one of sinking confidence in the economy, in the leadership in Washington, and division in the American electorate. As the first tale has gotten all the air-time, you may not have noticed that in three separate polls since the election majorities of Americans (including at least pluralities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats):

  1. View the country as more politically divided.
    From a Pew research report in December we learn that “80{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} [of adults] view the country as more politically divided – the highest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey. Nearly identical percentages of Democrats (82{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}), Republicans (81{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and independents (80{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say the country is more politically divided.” In another question 60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans say people they know are they more divided over politics these days, which is another all-time high according to Pew.
  2. Said what is happening in Washington makes them feel less confident in the economy.
    In January the NBC-WSJ poll found that a majority (51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of all voters and at least a plurality of each party (44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats, 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of independents, and 62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Republicans) said negotiations about the budget between President Obama and Republicans in Congress have made them less confident about the economy getting better.
  3. Have an unfavorable view of the country’s political system.
    From the February 6-10 ABC News/Washington Post poll we learn that 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters have an unfavorable impression of the country’s political system including 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats, 58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of independents, and 65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Republicans.

Bill McInturff took a closer look at the economic impact of the lack of confidence here. The chart below from a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,025 adults nationwide Dec. 14-17 succinctly captures the areas where the greatest deficits in confidence exist (Government and Washington Leadership) and what people value (Freedom/Choice).


All this data suggests a further souring of national public opinion about America that:

  1.  Can be clearly linked to the political climate in Washington;
  2. Is affecting our perceptions about each other;
  3. Is making us less confident in the economy, and;
  4. Is calling important aspects of the American dream into question.

 Here’s how the GOP has spoken about the American dream in the past. We have to ask ourselves, does this message still work as effectively today as it did thirty some years ago?

 “The American dream that we have nursed for so long in this country, and lately neglected, is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.” Ronald Reagan in the October 28, 1980 presidential debate with President Jimmy Carter

Public Opinion Strategies