Dems Make Historic Gains in Gallup!

Last week, all the media was atwitter over the news that Gallup had Republicans with a six point edge in the generic ballot

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Republicans Jump Out To Historic Lead In Gallup Generic Ballot Gallup's generic polling shows the number of voters saying that they would vote for Republicans rising three points from last week, while the number saying they will vote for Democrats dropped four points. The 49%-43% lead for the Republicans is the largest that the pollster has ever recorded for the party.

Wow! Historic!! Never mind that it was a holiday weekend... Never mind that the oil spill approvals were acute for that week (and recovering). It was historic!! Well, by that logic, apparently, Dems have made some history of their own! (more over the jump)

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The Problem Isn’t Progressive Policy; It’s Washington

This is not an anti-Democratic year. It is certainly an anti-Washington year, and since there are more Democratic than Repub incumbents in Washington, the unintended effect will be to punish the Democrats. But it will be important to stand what voters are railing against, and not to misinterpret their message. Voters don’t care about punishing the Democrats; they care about punishing the party in charge, which just happens to be the Democrats this time around. They’re angry at gridlock and unemployment, not at progressive policies.

Evidence of this: Gallup’s most recent generic ballot shows Repubs leading 49-43. A separate poll from the same firm released yesterday, however, gives the Repubs a 36% favorable rating and Democrats a 43% rating. This suggests to me that voters who disapprove of both parties plan to vote for the one not in power. To those voters, the only difference between 2010 and 2006 is a new cast of characters. They don’t like Repubs any more than they do Democrats but will vote for them this time because they’re not the ones in charge. And if the Repubs do indeed somehow manage to narrowly capture either house of Congress this year, then they’ll be the ones to suffer in 2012.

There’s no third party yet, but at least voters are starting to use primaries as a tool for change – and again, they’re doing it in a non-partisan way. Two Senators have lost their primaries, one from each party. As of last night, two Representatives have lost their primaries, again one from each party. Those evenly-split primary turnovers again shows that this isn’t about the Democrats; it’s about the Washington atmosphere. It’s about whichever party just happens to be in charge at any given moment. It’s about Washington gridlock, Washington incompetence, and Washington politics. Two years ago, Washington was a synonym for Republicans. Right now, it’s a synonym for Democrats. Lord only knows what it will be in 2012.

The impatience that demands a 100% turnaround in just four or even two years doesn’t help the country, but it is what it is. It will hurt Democrats in 2010, but it will also hurt Republicans, thus blunting Democratic losses. I think we’ll keep both houses, certainly the Senate. But the point is, we must recognize that voters are ticked at gridlock and hatred, not at progressive policies. And if we do indeed keep both houses, voters will have given Democrats two more years to try and implement those policies and show results. It will take filibuster reform and better communication than we saw over the first month of BP’s crime, but it can be done.

The Problem Isn’t Progressive Policy; It’s Washington

This is not an anti-Democratic year. It is certainly an anti-Washington year, and since there are more Democratic than Repub incumbents in Washington, the unintended effect will be to punish the Democrats. But it will be important to stand what voters are railing against, and not to misinterpret their message. Voters don’t care about punishing the Democrats; they care about punishing the party in charge, which just happens to be the Democrats this time around. They’re angry at gridlock and unemployment, not at progressive policies.

Evidence of this: Gallup’s most recent generic ballot shows Repubs leading 49-43. A separate poll from the same firm released yesterday, however, gives the Repubs a 36% favorable rating and Democrats a 43% rating. This suggests to me that voters who disapprove of both parties plan to vote for the one not in power. To those voters, the only difference between 2010 and 2006 is a new cast of characters. They don’t like Repubs any more than they do Democrats but will vote for them this time because they’re not the ones in charge. And if the Repubs do indeed somehow manage to narrowly capture either house of Congress this year, then they’ll be the ones to suffer in 2012.

There’s no third party yet, but at least voters are starting to use primaries as a tool for change – and again, they’re doing it in a non-partisan way. Two Senators have lost their primaries, one from each party. As of last night, two Representatives have lost their primaries, again one from each party. Those evenly-split primary turnovers again shows that this isn’t about the Democrats; it’s about the Washington atmosphere. It’s about whichever party just happens to be in charge at any given moment. It’s about Washington gridlock, Washington incompetence, and Washington politics. Two years ago, Washington was a synonym for Republicans. Right now, it’s a synonym for Democrats. Lord only knows what it will be in 2012.

The impatience that demands a 100% turnaround in just four or even two years doesn’t help the country, but it is what it is. It will hurt Democrats in 2010, but it will also hurt Republicans, thus blunting Democratic losses. I think we’ll keep both houses, certainly the Senate. But the point is, we must recognize that voters are ticked at gridlock and hatred, not at progressive policies. And if we do indeed keep both houses, voters will have given Democrats two more years to try and implement those policies and show results. It will take filibuster reform and better communication than we saw over the first month of BP’s crime, but it can be done.

At Last, Rational Plans to Assess & Stabilize the Economy

What We Can All Learn from Truckers & Poker Players

For many of us, reading the latest economic indicators has become the new masochistic pleasure in our mornings – surely other people have a tickler reminding them of the latest BLS Employment Situation Summary and the Gallup mid-month underemployment statistics? The problem with those indicators is that even when they show improvement, they still reflect a dispiriting reality. This is why a recent article about a new economic indicator holds such appeal. First, it reveals facts about our economy that are divorced from the personal impact reflected in other statistics. Second, it actually has a cautiously optimistic tale to tell.

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Weekly Mulch: Politics Confuse Public Perception of Climate Change

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Americans don’t know what to think about climate change anymore. A few years ago, the public more or less trusted the science that said human activity was raising global temperatures, but now that Congress and the Obama administration have hemmed and hawed about climate issues, we’re not longer so sure.

Forty-eight percent of Americans—more of us than ever before—believe that reports of global warming are “generally exaggerated,” according to a new Gallup poll. Climate science hasn’t changed, so it’s not crazy to look at these numbers and think that conservatives’ incessant critiques of climate change may be working.

A perfect political storm

These shifts in opinion started around 2008. Aaron Wiener at the Washington Independent argues that the politics of climate change are driving American opinions about the reality of global warming. The percentage of Americans willing to put the blame for climate change on humans is about equal to the percentage of Americans still behind President Barack Obama’s agenda, he notes.

“What was once a broad moral and scientific issue is now a centerpiece of the Democrats’ legislative agenda,” he writes.

Republicans have taken a political stand on climate change, too, one that reinforces the message that we can afford to ignore global warming. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum links the Gallup numbers to confusion about Copenhagen and to negative “Climategate” stories about a few climate scientists’ unprofessional emails.

But taking a wider view, Drum points out another big problem: “The Republican Party has largely decided that climate change simply doesn’t exist. It’s a hoax,” he says.

Green xenophobia

It’s also politically convenient for a party that throws a tantrum every time the president produces a policy idea. But in another corner of the right’s world, conservatives are eager to defend the country’s environment against the burden of immigration.

Jamilah King reports for ColorLines that Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), which is linked to a conservative anti-immigrant group, is warning that immigration “is pushing our country deeper into ecological deficit.”

King refutes this notion, citing reports that population and pollution are not directly linked. “In fact, newly arrived immigrants are probably among the most ecologically friendly folks around,” she writes. “They’re more likely to use public transportation and less likely to waste food.”

Impacts of climate change

Conservatives who’d prefer that immigrants stay on the other side of the border would do better to worry about Republicans’ studied blindness to climate change. Without action, global warming could send waves of people north, as places like Mexico grow warmer and can no longer support the same amount of agriculture.

Inter Press Service lays out some of the detrimental effects of climate change on poorer countries, particularly on the female half of the population. Women are more vulnerable to the natural disasters that accompany global warming, and the tasks that they take on, like collecting water and firewood, will grow harder as water becomes more scarce.

Overall, Thalif Deen reports, “The negative fallout from climate change is having a devastatingly lopsided impact on women compared to men.”

Slow Senate progress

The Senate is trying to move forward on climate change legislation. A key group of Senators met this week at the White House with President Obama, but coming out, the legislators had only “vague observations” to share about progress, according to Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard.

Part of the problem with the Senate’s process is that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have already said that they’ll likely discard the sort of cap-and-trade provisions that the House bill used to regulate carbon emissions. From an environmental point of view, the Senate is getting close to doing nothing at all.

“It’s really clear that whatever attains 60 votes in the US Senate at this stage in the game is at best an extremely incremental step forward,” Gillian Caldwell, campaign director at the environmental group 1Sky, told Sheppard.

The new progressive energy

The Senate seems more eager, along with President Obama, to embrace nuclear energy as a climate solution.

“I happen to be one of the Senators who’s concerned about waste,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said at a recent summit, reports TPMDC. “But most progressives in the Senate believe nuclear power is part of the solution at this time.”

“If we don’t expand nuclear power, there are going to be more coal plants and more oil plants,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) added. “Nuclear power has been accepted as part of the solution [to climate change] among progressives.”

Considering the political will the Senate has been able to muster behind climate legislation, one might as well believe that reports of global warming are “greatly exaggerated.” After all, you’d think that if there was a potentially catastrophic threat looming in the future, our elective representatives might want to, you know, do something about that.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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