Resurgent Republic, the GOP strategy/polling consortium, has been finding, in surveys, a trend among folks over 55 that quite concerns Democrats -- because they're seeing the same thing. Since April, older whites have not only been venting their frustration at Congress, they've been increasingly receptive to Republican political messaging. Even though seniors in this cohort identify more as Democrats than Republicans (+7), even though President Obama has an approval rating of 53%, Democratic policies are not the beneficiary of their base level of support. Read the memo here (PDF).
Of these voters, 27% are most concerned about the economy, 18% are worried about health care, and 10% are worried about deficits and spending. A majority of voters within these subgroups favor Republican solutions to Democratic solutions. This holds true particularly for those who say they're almost certain to vote in the midterms in 2010. Among voters over 55, Republicans and Democrats are viewed with equal disfavor -- which is telling, because Democrats have enjoyed a narrow advantage until recently. The driver here is independents, of course, who now favor Republicans in Congress more than Democrats in Congress.
I tend to be wary of partisan polls that test messages, but, as I indicated above, Democrats are finding the same thing: their core message resonates less when tested against Republican messages. On certain isolated questions, voters bend back the curve, quixotically supporting spending increases for specific problems that are defined specifically, but when given the choice between spending to push the economy out of a recession or paring down spending to reduce deficits, they're more likely to tell a pollster they favor the latter. The RR folks are very concerned about the deficit, so they've tested different iterations of deficit messages. Unsurprisingly, voters don't like spending when they're primed to think about its effect on the deficit and debt. BTW: independents hold President Bush more responsible for the condition of the economy than President Obama.
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is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.