If the budget is a reflection of the Democratic Party's political priorities, what does it say about the GOP's star catch of the cycle, Joseph Cao, who is faithfully attempting to divine the wisdom of his district and just might vote "yay?" The new ABC/News Washington Post poll helps us figure out what's going on. The Democratic strategy revolves around President Obama and the expanse of his political penumbra. Trust us, Democrats say, we're on Obama's side. The Republican strategy revolves around the Democrats. They're too radical. They're running the country into the ground. They're bailing out everyone except for the taxpayer. Well, the Democratic argument, not being a policy argument, gets you about 60 percent of the country right now. The Republican argument is merely majoritarian. "There is now a pronounced divergence between Democratic and Republican perceptions of the economy," the Post tells us. Well, yes. Obama's economic plan, fairly broadly Democratic in its orientation, commands the support of Democrats and a slight majority of independents. Republicans and a slight minority of independents are very skeptical of its deficits. The Republican Party can do all it wants to solidy Republican opposition and even peel away some more independents, but they're bumping up against a ceiling. Independents are capable of being skeptical about Democratic economics and yet still give Obama the benefit of the doubt. That's why a full two-thirds of the country believes that Obama's economic proposals are the right way forward. And two-thirds of the country think that Obama is a "New" Democrat. And two thirds of the country commends Obama for his handling of international affairs. (What, precisely, has he done in this area?) Hint: folks are responding to the Obama part of the proposals, not the "economic" or "international" part. Clearly, the sum is greater than the parts.
This is the real problem with a leadership vacuum. The persuadable voters in this country respond to changes in the political environment and to charismatic leaders who best exemplify those changes. We may be in era of rapid newscycle turnover, but Obama's still sticky. Republicans still repell. About as many independents support Republican economic policies as they do neither party at all, which means, in essence, that even as Democrats are getting knocked around about deficits, only legacy Republicans (Republicans who deserted the GOP over the past two elections) can stand to associate with the GOP.
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