In many of the polling-related posts on this site, there has been a regrettable tendency to blame the pollster rather than address the issue.
Fortunately some Democratic pollsters look political reality in the face.
For those of you thinking that recent economic news works in our favor, here’s a Democracy Corps Analysis to the contrary:
…A declining number believe the economy is improving, with only 40 percent saying it is “starting to improve” – and a growing number believing it is getting worse. For the great majority of Americans, this is a period of uncertainty. Indeed, over 60 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction – stuck at that level since the first month of positive job numbers…
Every economic indicator with political implications remains stuck – with Democrats at a disadvantage:
* The president’s approval on the economy is stuck at 45 percent, with a majority disapproving.
* Only 45 percent believe the president’s economic plan averted a crisis and laid a foundation for growth – compared to 49 percent who say it has made the economy worse. This critical judgment remains unchanged over the past four months – the whole period of job growth.
* The Republicans have a 4-point advantage on which party you trust on the economy – again essentially unchanged for three months.
* Voters are split on whether Obama and Democrats are more for Wall Street or Main Street – unchanged in four months.
* Voters by 48 to 46 percent would opt to protest the Democrats’ direction on the economy, rather than voting Democratic to keep recovery on track. This 2-point deficit is marginally better, but a minor movement.
The minute those benefits expire their recipients no longer count as unemployed. “Unemployment” is defined by the government, not as lacking a job, nor as being dependent upon part-time work, but as receiving benefits.
Democrats have a bad habit of taking unemployment numbers at face value, particularly when those numbers reflect employment in construction and manufacturing industries.
Brown thus has it both ways: a vote against “wasteful” governmental spending, plus the support of those whose whose legitimate feelings of personal betrayal and abandonment trump their economic circumstances.
This is how Republicans can get away with their cynical juxtaposition of corporatist votes and populist rhetoric: with few exceptions, the Democrats abandoned their (culturally) working-class base. Tea Party adherents may be mistaken in their analysis, but they have legitimate gripes, so far unaddressed by the institutional Democratic Party.
The Commonwealth is not exempt from this statistical sleight of hand, which renders the current economic “good news” here largely meaningless.
Fortunately for the Governor, Charley Baker can’t “do” populism to save his life, but not losing – by default – is not the same as winning.