Congressional poll numbers and the Dems' election strategy

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Well our friends in Congress have returned to work following their extended holiday recess. And they arrived just in time to take notice of yet another poll out this week that shows that 84 percent of Americans disapprove of the job they are doing.

For starters, much of the poll result is pure bunk. If you are asked how your congressman is doing, the approval rating skyrockets. If you ask how the entire Congress is functioning, the numbers plummet.

That in itself shows a major disconnect. Parochial favoritism rules the results. Since the re-election rate in Congress is extremely high, we look favorably on our local pols while pushing the blame for the chaos on the others.

Sorry, folks, it just doesn't work that way.

But even though the 84 percent disapproval rating captures the headline, the more important question centers on why voters think Congress is doing such a miserable job. On that question comes the great divide.

The camps are divided as you would expect. Some who disapprove of Congress place the blame on obstructionist Republicans. Others put the onus on the Democrats who never see a tax dollar they cannot spend.

So the critical issue is how the question is framed. And even then, I still suspect the numbers are misleading.

The Obama campaign has clearly signaled that this year's election will be a referendum on the "do nothing" Congress and the brave attempts by our president to break down those barriers and reach across the aisle for compromise.

But that campaign strategy works only if voters ignore facts. Then again, voters are notorious for ignoring facts so it just might work.

The Republican strategy will be to put the economy into the cross hairs (can I still say that?) and point toward a weak leadership model as the leading culprit.

If you follow the Democratic strategy, then you would have to believe that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are the obstructionists and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the fair-minded, compromise-prone leaders who work tirelessly with both sides of the debate to reach agreements.

Try making that argument!

Or take it further. You would have to believe that the new tea party members are the ones driving division in the halls of Congress while the Congressional Black Caucus are those reaching for compromise.

If the Democratic strategy is to run against Congress, then let the games begin.

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