The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Feb 14, 2009 at 10:09:07 AM EST
Ben Smith makes some very good points and draws out some great quotes:
With Barack Obama's victory in passing a massive stimulus package marred by days of bad press -- as not a single House Republican backed the bill, his health czar went down in flames and his second pick for commerce secretary walked away -- the administration has been cut down to size, and lost some of its bipartisan sheen.
Such, at least, has been the beltway chatter, but so far the numbers don't back it up.
"It's eerie -- I read the news from the Beltway, and there's this disconnect with the polls from the Midwest that I see all around me," said Ann Seltzer, the authoritative Iowa pollster who works throughout the Midwest.
"I don't think he's lost anything in terms of overall job approval or favorability," said Andy Smith, a pollster at the University of New Hampshire. "That's just the a perception inside the Beltway that everybody outside Washington pays attention to politics and eats and lives politics the way you guys do down there."
Smith, and the pollsters he quotes, are speaking directly to a point I have been driving at for some time: Perhaps more than ever, there is a real divide between what the chattering class inside the Beltway is saying and what the people of this country are saying. We saw the beginnings of this during the campaign, when despite the fact that John McCain was deemed to be winning the news cycles -- indeed, his campaign seemed to care more about winning "Hardball" than it did about reaching 270 electoral votes -- Barack Obama nevertheless continued to lead in the polls, both nationwide and in the key states. Now we're seeing it again, as the establishment media focuses on the less meaningful back and forth while at the same time overlooking the larger picture being grasped by the public -- that is that President Obama is succeeding, in terms of both moving forward his policy agenda and bringing two-thirds of the country along with him in his effort.