Warning! Dysfunctional Government is Creating Stormy Conditions Hazardous to Incumbents

by johndavis, October 30, 2013

Warning! Dysfunctional Government is Creating Stormy Conditions Hazardous to Incumbents   October 30, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 21           11:13 am Political Weather Alert!  Dysfunctional government, now the nation’s #1 problem, is creating conditions favorable for the development of severe storms in 2014 capable of producing career-ending political winds and flash floods that have the potential
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Warning! Dysfunctional Government is Creating Stormy Conditions Hazardous to Incumbents

 

October 30, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 21           11:13 am

Political Weather Alert!  Dysfunctional government, now the nation’s #1 problem, is creating conditions favorable for the development of severe storms in 2014 capable of producing career-ending political winds and flash floods that have the potential of wiping out the majority parties in a watch area that includes Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington, DC. 

Incumbents who have always managed to duck and deflect responsibility for nebulous issues like “the economy” or “deficit spending,” will have a hard time evading the issue of dysfunctional government.  They are the dysfunctional government. 

According to a survey of American adults conducted by Gallup in early October, "Dysfunctional Government" is now the number one problem facing the nation. It is seen as a problem greater than the economy, greater than the national debt, greater than the number of Americans living at or near the poverty level, greater than unemployment, greater than war or foreign policy or social issues. 

The percentage of Americans who say that the nation's number one problem is "Dysfunctional Government" is the highest since 1939.  Voters are fed up and are not going to take it anymore. 

The Gallup survey reflects the frustration American voters have with leaders in Washington, DC who have stuck to their ideological biases come hell or high water and refused to work with the opposition to find compromise solutions to unsustainable problems like entitlements and the national debt.  Americans now view politicians who stick to their beliefs rather than compromise as the cause for the government shutdown and the wimpish kick-the-can-down-the-road solution to the nation's problems. 

This month, Congressional job approval plummeted into single digits as congressional debate eroded to a juvenile level of partisan bickering and buck passing.  That reflects the dismal October average of the number of Americans satisfied with the direction of the country, 20.1% according to Real Clear Politics, with 73% saying that the country is on the wrong track. 

The Real Clear Politics website also shows the average job approval for Congress during October at 8.4%, with 84.7% of Americans disapproving. Here are examples:

  • Fox News poll October 20-22: Congressional Approval 9%; Disapproval 85%
  • CBS News poll October 18-21: Congressional Approval 9%; Disapproval 85%
  • ABC News/Wash Post October 17-20: Congressional approval 9%; Disapproval 89%

 This October, according to Gallup, satisfaction with government plummeted to “the lowest government satisfaction rating in Gallup’s history of asking the question dating back to 1971.”  That’s what drove the America public to say the number one national problem is “Dysfunctional Government.” 

Republicans Get Most of the Blame; Democrats a Close Second

 Unfortunately for Republicans, the GOP gets the brunt of the public blame for the dysfunction in Washington. On October 9, Gallup released a statement saying that the Republican Party’s favorability was the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking the question in 1992.  Only 28% of Americans had a favorable view of the Republican Party, with 43% saying they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party. A whopping 62% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party; 49% view the Democratic Party unfavorably. 

Critical thought: If only 28% of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party, that means that a lot of Republicans do not have a favorable view the GOP.  Will they stay home in 2014?  They stayed home in the 2006 non-presidential election year.  That’s why Republicans lost control of congress.  Democrats stayed home in the 2010 non-presidential election year.  That’s why Republicans swept the nation with wins at all levels of politics.  Who will stay home in 2014? 

Even before the federal government was reopened and the debt ceiling crisis was kicked down the road, voters were showing record-breaking angst toward the Members of Congress:

  • A national survey by the Pew Research Center conducted October 9-13 reveals that 74% of American voters would like to see most Members of Congress defeated in 2014.
  • During election years 2010 and 2006, years in which the majority party in the US House was thrown out, only 57% wanted to see most Members of Congress defeated.

 In a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted October 17-20, which showed the job approval of Congress to its lowest point in 39 years, 53% of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown to only 29% who blame President Obama.  A USA Today/Princeton poll conducted October 17-20 shows 39% of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, 19% blame the Democrats. 

In national surveys conducted since the resolution of the national debt crisis and the opening of the federal government, congressional Republican disapproval has risen to 79%, with 63% disapproving of the job Democrats are doing and 53% disapproving of the job President Obama is doing. 

With so many Republicans around country joining Democrats and Independents in blaming the GOP (79%) for the #1 problem in America, dysfunctional government, you can see why their storm warnings are up.  Likewise, with so many Democrats around country joining Republicans and Independents in blaming fellow Democrats (63%) for the #1 problem in America, dysfunctional government, you can see why their storm warnings are up. 

Dysfunction is Created by the Loss of the Political Middle

 In 1982, when the Congress was brimming with conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, 344 of 435 members in the US House of Representatives were rated by the National Journal somewhere in the political middle between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat.  

By 2002, the number of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans had eroded so greatly that only 137 members were rated somewhere between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat.  Last year, only 11 of 435 members of Congress were rated in the political middle. 

The political middle is gone. An era of ideological ruthlessness more reminiscent of the Middle Ages has produced a dysfunctional government. Absolute loyalty to the ideology is demanded or else.  

You'd better not be caught being a statesman in the United States Congress today! 

Political Weather Alert!  Dysfunctional government, now the nation’s #1 problem, is creating conditions favorable for the development of severe storms in 2014 capable of producing career-ending political winds and flash floods that have the potential of wiping out the majority parties in a watch area that includes Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington, DC. 

Elected officials beware.  The #1 problem in America is no longer a nebulous issue that you can dodge or deflect like “the economy” or “unemployment” or “deficit spending.”  The #1 problem is you.

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John N. Davis, Editor

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