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Since November's elections, Republicans have been trying to convince themselves and the rest of us that their message and leaders, not their policies. Maybe they've convinced themselves, but for the general public, it's not working. Just a day after CNN released a poll finding that 53 percent of Americans say Republican policies are too extreme, a Washington Post/ABC poll has an identical percentage saying that Republican policies, not a failure of leadership, are the problem.

Poll results from 2012 and 1949 on whether the Republican party needs better policies or a better leader to communicate. In 2012, 53% say better policies, though only 23% of Republicans agree, with 64% favoring a better leader. In 1949, 41 percent overall said better policies while only 27% of Republicans agreed.
The poll went back to a question asked in 1949, after Republicans lost five straight elections, tweaking it slightly to fit the situation today:
Q: There are two different points of view as to why the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Which of these two views do you, yourself, think is more nearly right…

One group holds that the Republican Party is too conservative and needs a program concerned more directly with the welfare of the people, particularly those in the lower and middle income levels.

The other group says that the policies of the Republican Party are good–but the party needs a better leader to explain and win support for these policies.

So that's 53 percent of people saying that the Republican party is too conservative and not concerned enough with lower- and middle-income people. Just 27 percent of Republicans agree, though, bolstering party leadership in its refusal to change.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are in a high-profile fight to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and protect tax breaks for wealthy people. And doing those things just a little isn't enough for them—they're going big or, as Thursday night, going home. Republicans are settling in for a fight that will damage their party brand still further; the question is how much they'll manage to hurt the United States along the way.

If only Democrats were as fierce in their advocacy for good, popular policies as Republicans are for bad, unpopular ones. Sign our petition urging Senate Democrats to oppose any Social Security benefits cuts during the fiscal cliff negotiations.

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Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:46 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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