Semi-Secret Democracy Corps Poll Uncovers Perceptual Problems for Dems

Okay, it’s only “semi-secret” because Democracy Corps put it on their website.  However, they did so without any of their usual fanfare — email blasts, press releases, and James Carville ruminating on the numbers.  Yesterday’s first article on it showed the rapid decline in the political environment since April.

They also asked how well a series of descriptive phrases described the Democrat incumbents (or the GOP incumbents).  The phrases do not bode well for Democrats.  A plurality see their Dem incumbents as “too liberal,” “will raise my taxes,” and “puts (his/her) party in Washington ahead of the people here.”  A majority say that their Dem incumbent in these swing seats “supports too much government spending.”

Meanwhile, Dem incumbents do get mixed marks for “being on your side,” and “shares your values.”  The Dem does get majority credit for “fights for people here.”

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The folks at Democracy Corps had to be disappointed with the results of the descriptive phrases they asked in the target GOP districts.  Just as many voters in those districts say the GOPer “fights for people here” as said in the Dem districts.  The GOPer received a net five points better spread for “on your side” than the Dem incumbent did — and scored 13 points better on “shares your values.”

Voters in the GOP districts strongly rejected the negative message that their Republican incumbents “puts (his/her) party in Washington ahead of people here,” (thus the GOP incumbents run 11 net points better than the Dem incumbents on that measure).

The voters in the GOP districts also rejected the idea that their incumbent was “not offering new ideas to fix the country’s problems.”  They were also skeptical of the claim that the Republican is “for the wealthy and big business, not the middle class.”

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These data put a dent in the conventional wisdom that individual Republican incumbents are not getting some bounce off the Democratic Party’s problems.  This is NOT a pox on both your houses of incumbents — instead, there are very real concerns with the Democratic party.  For their 40 key swing seats to be having perceptual problems on being too liberal, too likely to raise taxes and spend too much money, and putting their party in DC ahead of the local folks is a real opportunity for Republican challengers.

There is currently a debate on whether the GOP is well-positioned enough to take advantage of the Dem problems.  It’s a lot easier for the GOP to fix our fading problems than it is for the Dems to fix their growing problems.  Elections aren’t about the past, they are about the right now.  And, right now, it is going to be difficult for Dems to beat many GOP incumbents.  The key question regarding GOP pick-ups is — what will “right now” look like in a year?  If it looks like this — or better, the Dems will find that it isn’t their birthright to win congressional elections.

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