Old Talking Points Die Hard
by Todd Beeton, Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 07:47:37 AM EST
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.