An interesting thing is happening in the media. The idea that maybe Republicans aren't so popular keeps popping up in discussion. The latest is Chris Cillizza, reviewing the same WaPo poll we did and coming to similar conclusions:

McConnell is on far shakier rhetorical ground, however, when he argues that Republicans "got our groove back" by breaking out of the "Washington echo chamber" to listen to and empathize with voters.

Poll after poll suggests that voters are far from sold on the Republican brand and that the rise of GOP fortunes is directly tied to an erosion of confidence in Obama and the Democratic party not any Republican renaissance.

Again, the Post poll. Forty-three percent of those tested said that they had either a "great deal" or a "good amount" of confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country while 32 percent said the same of Democrats in Congress and just 26 percent said it of Republicans in Congress.

As long as Republicans, like the ones in Maine, are crusading against "any participation in efforts to create a one world government," Republicans will remain on shaky ground.

Not really a surprise here. After all, teabaggers are Republicans, as the Maine platform makes clear:

The Tea Party movement is reminiscent of the principled revolt that led to the birth of the Republican Party in 1854.  In June of that year, Horace Greeley referred to the newly formed Republicans as “...united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty...".  This year it is incumbent upon those Republicans who strive to protect and defend our Constitution, to reclaim that heritage.

The idea that disappointment in the Democrats is a rush to embrace Republicans has no basis in fact. That won't by itself save Democrats in November, but it certainly is a mitigating factor that the public has not yet forgotten George W. Bush and the damage he did when Republicans were in charge (his favorability ratings are still in the 20's). Noted as well is the last NBC/WSJ poll (.pdf), where blame for the economy was Bush 43, Obama 27. Check out any poll for who can handle problems better, and you'll find a trust gap that, while smaller than it was, still favors Democrats. This is the same WaPo poll:

See also Pew from late June:

But the continuing problem for Democrats is older voters. The future may belong to Democrats, but as Pew clearly shows, this ain't the future just yet.

Some of the enthusiasm gap may close by November, some may not, but this is where it is now.

Bottom line: Expect significant Republican pick-ups this fall, but they'll be less than they could have been because of the extremism of the Republican Party/Tea party coupled with lingering distaste of the Bush years. That distaste shows up even in the polls favoring Republicans. This suggests that some, at least, of the anti-Democratic Party vote is still not set in stone, since the alternative is hardly beloved.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 09:20 AM PDT.

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