Old Talking Points Die Hard

According to this new Rasmussen poll, neither Barack Obama nor the growing economic crisis has been able to shift Americans' attitudes toward government.

In early October, as the meltdown of the financial industry gained momentum following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 59% of U.S. voters agreed with Ronald Reagan that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." [...]

Despite all that, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that the basic views of the American people have not change: 59% of voters still agree with Reagan's inaugural address statement. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.

It should be noted that this poll was taken in the days leading up to Barack Obama's address Tuesday night during which he made what was arguably his most full-throated case for government as the solution since beginning his campaign for president.

Still, it is surprising considering a majority believes the stimulus package -- a bill that embodies the progressive value of government as the solution -- will improve the economy. We've also seen a gradual increase in people's openness toward an increasing government role in health care.

What this polling result seems to signal is that people actually don't see Obama or his policies as representing "big government" in the way the right has demonized it for the past 30 years, which in itself signifies the mastery of Obama's messaging and the utter failure of the right to define Obama. Having said that, I'd be surprised if, in the months ahead, people's conscious poll-tested reaction to Reagan's anti-government message doesn't come more into line with what appears to be their unconscious post-Bush pro-government sentiment.

Tags: Barack Obama, government, ronal reagan (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Not surprising at all

Hell, that was Grover Nordquist master plan.

Make Gov SUCK so people hated it.

To me, Obama's greatest challenge is not to convince Americans that taxes are neccesary, that everything can't be done at once, that we need to be realistic, etc.

It's that government CAN work.

Of all of Reagans successful memes "Government IS the problem" was probably the best.

And, let's not forget this statement

"The day of big government is over!"

Hell THE DLC was selling the same message!

SO, it will take a while to reverse that meme.

But, here is the good news.

When Reagan made that sale, he had one thing going for him: An American Corporate sector that people still believed in.

My Father, and his generation, had a social contract with corporate America, and it worked.

He had a pension. And, the company NEVER tried to screw him.

He knew the president of the company, and he didn't make 700 times LESS then him.

Now, who trust the corporation?

The Republicans have a sale "Trust the free Market" that is pretty much bankrupt at the moment.

So, Change, meet Moment.

Let's just hope Obama listens more to Hilda Solis then Larry Summers...

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-27 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard
It seems asif the public mood is changing and along comes a pollthat says otherwise.
So what else is new?
by spirowasright 2009-02-27 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

It should also be taken into account it is a Rasmussen poll. I would like to see how they worded the questions.

by jsfox 2009-02-27 08:14AM | 0 recs
The Only Way the Attitude will Change

Conservatism has been the dominant political philosophy ever since Nixon's landslide victory over McGovern. The country has been programmed to think conservatively. Moreover, it may be human nature to lean conservative such that low information people will tend to vote conserative. Thus, the only way we are going to change attitudes is for the Democrats to pass Obama's progams to demonstrate and effectively articulate that progressive policies actually work. This is what FDR did.

by Zzyzzy 2009-02-27 08:17AM | 0 recs
Also, there is a different spin on it....

Heck, if you asked ME in October, was government the cause of this meltdown, I would have told you YES!

But, I blame Phil Gramm, not Barack Obama.

I read the entire article, Jsfox is right, the whole thing, about EVERYONE thinks the Republican Party should return to the Reagan ideas...This is just Larry Kudlow's wet dream, they should hand this out on flyers at CPAC.

And, a SnapShot Poll in October is nothing to drive a stake in the sand about.

People trust Obama, for now.

He has a window of opportunity to prove his thesis, that EFFECTIVE government is the PARTIAL solution to many of these problems...

He lives in the world of grey...

CPAC, Rasumussen and Kudlow see only Black, White and RED (you damn Commies!)

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-27 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

I take this in the same vein as the low polling numbers for Congress. People just like bitching about government. It's a nasty bit of cynicism that has to be slowly peeled back.

by vcalzone 2009-02-27 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

And truth be told, a lot of government IS inefficient, never moreso in my (admittedly somewhat brief) lifetime than in the last eight years.

That being said, Reagan's end to that statement was, "So we need to stop all government programs". I think most people would end it with, "So we need to make government programs work better." Here's hoping Obama follows through on it. It's not exactly rocket science. Anyone who tells you that a health insurance executive is one of the preeminent experts on the industry and better at engineering a program than anyone else is laughably stupid.

by vcalzone 2009-02-27 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

However, it should be pointed out that on a cost to deliver services basis Social Security is by far the most efficient pension program in the country, and Medicare is by far the most efficient health care system in the country.  So not all government programs are inefficient.

I'm sure there are plenty others that people could name.

by LanceS 2009-02-27 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

This is what happens to a movement when its leader has no discernible philosophy other than to be "the decider".  What was George Bush's philosophy?

by the mollusk 2009-02-27 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

Rasmussen's process polls are usually outliers.  I would take these numbers with a grain of salt, coming from Ras. I would put more stock in the findings if it were conducted by Pew. I agree with some of the other commenters that the exact wording of this poll would be interesting.

Rasmussen has been the odd outlier for some time now when it comes to Obama's approval ratings.  A couple of days ago they pegged it at 58% to 40%, giving Obama a rather slight 18% edge.

 Other polls during this time frame came in vastly different:

Foxnews 60% to 26%  +34%

CNN  67% to 29%  +38%

CBSnews/NY Times 63% to 22% +41%

ABCnews/Washington Post 68% to 25% +43%

Gallup 67% to 21% +46%

All polls show Obama more than doubling up comfortably in terms of approval vs. disapproval, with the average margin at greater than 40%, yet Rasmussen is the "lone wolf" painting ever so tight approval ratings with margins in the teens?  Obviously Rasmussen's poll is the huge outlier here.  With bizarre samples like these resulting in a finding a full 20% off the other polls we have seen, why should we believe anti-government public sentiment numbers arrived at using the same flawed samples?

At the very least I would say that given Rasmussen's other findings, which appear to have a strong pro-Republican tilt these days, we should wait until we see more data on the subject from other polls.  Rasmussen could be as far off on this subject as they appear to be on the current Obama approval rating, after all.  

by devilrays 2009-02-27 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

Look, here's the thing. During an election year, their polls are not only easily verifiable, but they are measured up against numerous other competing polling companies. The most accurate one wins, and so it's a mad scramble to win the title of "best pollster".

Once election season is over, though, there are no metrics to measure, no proof to be found. They can skew their numbers as much as they (or their sponsors) want to and nobody can really prove that they're wrong. Rasmussen did a hell of a job at polling the election, and now they're able to just put out crazy shit whenever they want and be taken seriously.

by vcalzone 2009-02-27 09:14AM | 0 recs
Yes, and they have one main target

The media.

They are doing the heavy lifting for the Republican message, making sure the CNN et all believes the Country is still in Ronnie Reagan thrall....

And, I bet, if you ask the right demographic, the 40-50 Boomers, that is what you get...

I would love to see them ask the millenials, Do you trust Corporations to do the right thing?

Yeah, that's a poll that might shed some light on the other side of the story...

Well, nothing changes, really.

The Republican strength HAS been framing and messaging.

For the most part, their messagers now suck.

Bobby Jindal? Holy Crap, that's the A team????

But, as long as the media STILL buys the line hook line and sinker, Obama has work to do to keep selling to the American people directly...

And, of course, where the rubber meets the road: these programs have to work.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-27 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, and they have one main target

Do you know if Rasmussen uses live interviewers or an automated system?  The reason I ask is that PPP has had some interesting discussion lately on whether conservatives & Republicans may be more likely to express support for the President to a live interviewer.  They have gotten significantly lower approval numbers for Obama in NC than Civitas and Elon, both of whom use live interviewers, even though their approval ratings for Governor Perdue are almost identical for all three polls.

by LanceS 2009-02-27 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

My view is that, in a very general sense, most people have a preference for (1) liberal policies and (2) conservative slogans.

I really don't care if we ever win the slogan war.  That's not our turf.  There is no point in fighting on it.

by Steve M 2009-02-27 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

The Reagan message was all government is bad. Kill it.

The pragmatic message (and Obama is nothing if not a pragmatist) is that government and private enterprise are good at different things. Some things the private sector is great at. The problem is the great incentive to externalize costs, to the great expense of everybody else.

The government is good at some things and not others.

The trick is to examine and re-examine each task the government may need or want to do. Can private enterprise do a better job (like making consumer products)? Or is the task one that only government can do by its very nature? One example is prisons. This is a government function. When private companies get involved it is one of two models: (1)get contract from government, so government is still responsible and still paying, but private company now makes a profit (and maybe, MAYBE, improves the function while having every incentive to cut corners); or (2) private companies offer the service but profit by skimming off the potentially profitable cases while leaving the rest to the government (i.e., many private schools).

To boil this down: We will examine every job government is asked to do. We will only do those jobs that only government can do, or that government can do better than the private sector. Then we will watch these jobs very carefully to keep the cost to taxpayers low and to make sure the job is done right.

by anoregonreader 2009-02-27 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Old Talking Points Die Hard

Alot of people don't think bigger government is the answer because it grew bigger than ever the last eight years and look how we ended up?

The government was warned about Fannie and Freddie, but the government responded by reassuring us that these institutions were fine.

The SEC was warned about Madoff, but somehow they were never able to uncover that he didn't purchase a stock for 13 years?

The government changed the laws that kept investment banks separate from regular banks and allowed Paulson to convince them that the traditional 12 to 1 leverage should be abolished.

The government and Wall Street have been taking care of each other for awhile now and getting extremely wealthy. President Obama promised that he would change it (like seemingly every politician before him), but until he does, the majority of Americans will be skeptical that more government is better job.

What President Obama needs to do is:

1) Spend the money wisely so the economy recovers.

2) Throw the crooks in jail. Anyone who lied, cheated, and stole money from the American people should have the full weight of the law brought down upon them.

3) Expose corrupt politicians, including the ones in his own party. (I'm looking at you Dodd, Rangel, and Murtha)  

The American people need to see justice served!

by tpeichel 2009-02-27 12:01PM | 0 recs

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