Answering the “Party of No” Attack

The newest NBC/WSJ poll  has a wealth of interesting information, and Alex Bratty will be blogging on some of those key findings over the next few days.  But, one question that Bill McInturff and Peter Hart asked caught my eye, so I’ve written a post on it.  As always, these opinions expressed on the blog do not necessarily reflect that of NBC/WSJ or Hart Research.

From time to time, they’ve asked:

“In general, do you think it is better for the same political party to control both Congress and the Presidency so they can work together more closely, or do you think it is better to have different parties controlling the Congress and the Presidency to prevent either one from going too far?”

Fully 61% prefer the two to be controlled by different parties, while 30% want the two controlled by the same party.   This is similar to the check and balance question we are asking in many districts.   It’s a question we’ll update soon, since we last asked it on a national survey about one year ago.

While we also need to point out Republican ideas and alternatives, these data provide a response to the “party of no” attack by the Democrats.  Our message should be that Democrats are going too far — on spending, health care, the deficit, not treating terrorists as enemy combatants, etc. 

Back to the 61%-30% result on this month’s NBC/WSJ poll. . .

  • In October 2008, 41% wanted the same party controlling both, while 48% wanted different parties. 
  • Democrats are unchanged from 10/08 to now.  Two years ago, Dem voters broke down as 46% same/42% different, while now they are 46% same/45% different.
  • Republicans have shifted dramatically — from 43% same/48% different in the 10/08 survey to 17% same/74% different.  That’s not surprising — Republicans know Barack Obama is President, and he’s not up for a few more years, so different is good.
  • The key finding is the attitude among Independents.  In 2008 they wanted different parties controlling, but that feeling is more exacerbated now.  In 10/08, it was 26% same/62% different among Independents, while now it is 18% same/73% different.

The number among Independents is far more meaningful now than in 2008.  Then, we were heading into an open seat Presidential election, so there was much more uncertainty about the main branch of government.  Now, voters know the Democrats control everything, and yet they want split control. 

Thus, the aforementioned check and balance message serves as a framework for Republican candidates to talk about the need for change.  One party control leads to higher spending, unethical behavior, and more waste.  Independents don’t trust those people in Washington, D.C. — and part of our message is that electing Candidate Smith is a step to making sure the Democrats don’t go too far.  (Personalize it to your individual campaign instead of using the broader Republican label).

Public Opinion Strategies