A new poll shows the majority of Americans believe the [Republican] party is “out of touch” and “too extreme.”
The Threat to Republicans
By Charlie Cook, The Cook Report (03/01/2013)— A recent poll by the Pew Research Center attracted a great deal of attention because it found that 62 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the Republican Party was “out of touch with the American people”; only 33 percent disagreed. Even 36 percent of Republicans thought their party was out of touch. Sixty-five percent of independents also held that view, and, unsurprisingly, 77 percent of Democrats. By 52 percent to 42 percent, Americans said the Republican Party was “too extreme.” Conversely, only 39 percent saw the Democratic Party as too extreme, while 56 percent did not.
As Republicans enter this month of budget battles, their leaders seem keenly aware of these numbers. Among rank-and-file GOP members of Congress, it’s a different story. Some acknowledge the party’s problems, but others do not. The divisions in the ranks are reflected in their approaches to sequestration. One group wants to give House Speaker John Boehner a free hand to negotiate a deal. Another faction doesn’t particularly like sequestration but thinks that, for all of its problems, it is perhaps the only way to get meaningful budget cuts. A third group thinks that the cuts slated under sequestration don’t go nearly far enough. Given these divergent viewpoints, it is no wonder the GOP leadership is having a hard time.
But there is still a threat that public ire is aimed more institutionally—at Congress, at Washington, and at all politicians who work in Washington. The turbulence caused by this universal anger could manifest itself in many ways, selectively hurting members of both parties, depending on their political circumstances. So all sides should take notice of the mounting public disgust.
But, for Republicans, worrying about a generic anti-Washington, anti-incumbent dynamic is something of a luxury. More pressing is the damage occurring to their party’s fabric. [MORE]