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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.

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

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ignorance and arrogance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MinistryOfTruth
    If only Democrats were as fierce in their advocacy for good, popular policies as Republicans are for bad, unpopular ones.
    This is exactly the problem today, and so it has been in the darkest times of mankind.  As Yeats observes in his great poem, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of a passionate intensity."
  •  Because nothing makes a shit sandwich (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, MinistryOfTruth

    taste great like a pickle on top, speared with one of those frilly toothpicks.

    Pardon our dust. Sig line under renovation.

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:13:28 AM PST

    •  Second verse, same as the first (0+ / 0-)

      53% of the American people can't be wrong.

      Except, um, when they're sometimes wrong.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:31:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your first sentence is incomplete, please reread (0+ / 0-)
    Since November's elections, Republicans have been trying to convince themselves and the rest of us that their message and leaders, not their policies.
    something is missing from that.
  •  Given that about 50-51% of people voted against (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans, it's not too surprising that a similar percentage of them consider them too conservative.

  •  Obviously, this means Obama must (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rivercard

    compromise with house republicans if he want's to be perceived as a serious president.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:04:16 PM PST

    •  No, The Fact That RepubliKlans Control The House (0+ / 0-)

      and has Constitutional authority in matters of things like taxation means that he has to compromise with them.

      What is about certain people who think that compromise - the very art of politics - is a negative. I thought most such people were RepubliKlans. I guess our side has a few such my way or the highway types. Also...

      Of course, If White Americans would just stop voting for RepubliKlans, like my peeps have, then the problem would be solved. But that would put the onus on White people and we can't do that now can we...

      White Americans will never accept Obama as their President no matter what he does, so he should just do his best - which is better than any of them could do - and leave the rest to history.

      I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

      by OnlyWords on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:43:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the House can't govern, then that's too bad... (0+ / 0-)

        It sucks, and I agree we could be in serious trouble if that's the case, but it doesn't mean that Obama just enacts the extreme House agenda just because they won't pass anything else.  

      •  Also, about 40% of whites voted for Obama (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        417els

        The demographic is far from monolithic.  More than half of Obama's votes came from white people.  If no whites supported Obama then he'd never have won either in 2008 or 2012.  So when you say white America will never accept Obama as their President, what the hell does that mean?  

        The Democratic coalition has people of all ethnicities, including white people.  

  •  An overwhelming majority of Repubs believe (7+ / 0-)

    that their party's problem is communication, not policy. I bet that's what the American Nazi Party believes too. Also, the NRA, BP, the Taliban and this guy.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:10:24 PM PST

    •  Thank gawd I have my sound turned off... (0+ / 0-)

      YOU are one of several very naughty people who have slipped that earworm link into comments!

      It's enough to make me want to sic the Oscar Mayer weenie...~Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weeen-errrr...~...on you.  Ooops.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:42:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I believe it of the Democratic Party and the left (0+ / 0-)

      generally also, so there you go....

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:07:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  now, that's just mean (0+ / 0-)

      I can't believe I didn't see that coming.

      Never gonna give you up....

  •  and who is the head of the GOP these days? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    417els

    oranges and turtles and fascist pundits, oh my!

    In the new poll, nearly two-thirds of self-described Republicans see insufficient leadership and explanation of policies as the reason the party has endured a string of popular vote defeats.

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:11:18 PM PST

  •  Republicans Aren't Too Conserative (9+ / 0-)

    We could get along with honest, decent conservatives just fine.  The Republican of today is a batshit crazy radical.  I cannot believe that so many smart liberals continue to do those assholes a favor by calling them "conservatives."  It gives them a mainstream legitimacy that they do not deserve.  This is the sort of semantic stuff that we need to take more seriously.

    How can we have a third party when we don't even have a second party?

    by Eagleye on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:13:54 PM PST

    •  exactly, we need to frame it better but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rlochow

      Bill Buckley is dead, and even he was wrong

      We could get along with honest, decent conservatives just fine

      yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

      by annieli on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:25:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You Do Realize That In The 2012 Elections (0+ / 0-)

      59% of White people - including 62% of White males, 56% of White women, 61% of Whites over 64 years old and 51% of Whites 18-29 years old - voted for (R)money-Lyan.

      So if the "Republican of today is a batshit crazy radical", what does that say about the only group of people who vote for them?

      I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

      by OnlyWords on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:46:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not too much... (0+ / 0-)

        A 60/40 split, while being impressive in electoral terms actually means a pretty divided opinion.  It means 4/10 think one thing, and 6/10 think the other.  All it takes is one person to change their mind and its evenly divided.  

  •  Never about good policy... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jomsc, glaze, 417els

    Just about the best snake oil salesman.

    Amazing.

  •  I would be interested to see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlochow, glaze

    how the same question was answered for Democrats.  I'm willing to bet the results are the same.  Everybody thinks their party has the right policies, and if we lose it's because the spokesman was weak.

    I'm also willing to bet if the same question had been asked every 10 years, the results would change little over time.

    But we can still laugh at the Republicans, and hope our Democratic President fights for a Democratic agenda.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:23:43 PM PST

    •  The same poll (0+ / 0-)

      That had 53% saying GOP is too extreme had 37% saying the same about Democrats, but 51% saying it is a good thing that Republicans control the House of Representatives.

      •  The media deplores gridlock (0+ / 0-)

        ...and the people prefer it.  But that's interesting that we're seen as less extreme.  It means people are actually paying attention.

        We really need to start advocating for some extreme Liberal positions, just to move the window back.  Confiscatory taxation!  99% estate tax!  Medicare for all!  Free college for all!

        Oh crap.  Those are actually good ideas.  What does it take to be an extremist around here?  ^_^

        Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

        by Boundegar on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:26:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What was the tweak? (0+ / 0-)

    The totals for both columns seem to be lower all around for 1949.  Was there a third option in 1949 that was not presented in 2012?

  •  The right has been (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jomsc, A Citizen, glaze, 417els, Matt Z

    saying this for years: conservatism never fails on principle, the problem is the execution.

    Yeah, whatever... we've seen the results of their policies--trickle down economics doesn't work, pre-emptive wars only serve to bankrupt the treasury, tax cuts haven't made us all rich... none of their ideas have ever panned out, and they never will. No matter how many time we try them.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:34:03 PM PST

  •  Asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob

    Um, Laura, your first sentence is meaningless, having no object or reference.

    You left out what it is that the GOP supposedly is trying to convince themselves of.

    Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

    by GayIthacan on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:46:29 PM PST

  •  "Only two things are infinite, the universe and (0+ / 0-)

    human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former". -
    Albert Einstein       Einstein almost had it right.  He should have said Republican instead of "human" stupidity.

  •  Data Make Claim Uninteresting (0+ / 0-)

    The point of a political party is to represent the opinions of its supporters.

    These polling data indicate that Republican positions have stronger support from 2012 Republicans, the people who count, than 1949 Republican positions had from 1949 Republicans.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:48:56 PM PST

    •  So they remain an angry minority party. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jomsc

      GOOD.

      And demographics will finish them off within a decade.

      •  If mid-term elections.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glaze

        ....have historically favored Republicans (due to lower turnout), then the year 2020 should be very interesting indeed. It's a general (presidential) election year AND a census year. Hopefully, Democratic-controlled legislatures can undo the gerrymandering that we've seen since 2010. Re-districting should be based on fairness and impartiality, not for political gain.

  •   (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jomsc, A Citizen, 417els

    Rethugs get their 'message' out just fine. We GET exactly what they want, what they stand for, what their policies are - even through all the lies.
    Their message is NOT what most Amercians want to hear.
    But they don't/won't/can't/ believe it.
    They only want to live in their own manufactured reality.

    "The past is never dead. It's not even past". Faulkner.

    by mchestnutjr on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:51:38 PM PST

  •  Somehow the word "conservative" has come (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, jomsc, Just Bob, 417els

    to replace what really should be called "reactionary," or "neanderthal," or "fascist," or "extremist asshole."

    FWIW, I'm a very liberal, bleeding-heart Democrat, but I still think of myself as fundamentally "conservative."

    Of course, I also claim to be both "pro-choice" and "pro-life."

    I'm all in favor of conserving good, traditional values, like democracy.

    Oh well . . .

    •  I think of you as conservative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, jomsc

      and myself as moderate. ;) Now the GOPers? They are radicals.

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:10:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, that's about right. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10

        No shame to be a conservative Democrat, if you are a yellow dog Dem as I am and ALWAYS vote for the Dem, as I do.

        But actually, I'm more of a liberal Dem than a conservative Dem on almost all issues.  I'm damn sure not a "blue dog" Dem.

        By the way, the term "yellow dog Dem" is very old.  The idea is that one would be so loyal as to vote always for the Dems, even if they ran a yellow dog.  And I've followed that rule for 40 years.

        "Blue dog" is a recent and reprehensible coinage.  I detest all of them.

        I'm pissed off that radicals have taken away the term "conservative."

        Right at this moment, the national Democrats are actually MUCH more conservative than the asshole national Republicans.

  •  Too conservative? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, GayHillbilly, 417els

    I find it interesting that the poll question implied that there are only two ways to analyze the problem with modern Republicanism.

    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.
    Here's my "third" point of view: I think that the reason that the Republicans are in trouble is neither being too "conservative" nor lacking effective leadership. Their problem is that their "policies" are a cover for ulterior motives and more and more people see through it (even if they may not consciously realize it.) Why is it that their "policies", no matter how seemingly full of conviction for lofty principals, always end up benefiting Big Business?

    Too conservative? The Republicans have commandeered the term and have nullified it's meaning. Concern for the environment, and preservation of public lands and native habitats is a form of conservation. Abiding by Supreme Court rulings and respecting the office of the presidency are conservative responses to authority.

    Their policies and rhetoric have not changed in my lifetime, but reality has changed. "We are fiscal conservatives," they say, and yet here comes Pres. Obama trying to take seriously the call to strengthen the economy and they don't cooperate at all.

    Here's a definition of "opportunist":

    One who takes advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end, often with no regard for principles or consequences.
    The GOP is a political party based on opportunism not conservatism and has been at least since Richard Nixon sold his soul in order to become President. That's why things don't make sense and the math doesn't add up. Their current problem now is that in the opportunistic attempt to re-define reality in order to be "in power", the brainwashed people they targeted over the decades are becoming the elected officials. Frankenstein's monster is on the loose.
  •  gop= Delusioneering. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jomsc, a2nite

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:10:50 PM PST

  •  The Republican party that I see today is an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jomsc, a2nite, Patango

    embarrassment .  This diary mentioned, "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 .........."
    In addition to that they support policies that pollute and destroy the environment; they are always trying to cast doubt on science, which is just ignorant and suicidal; they are always trying to inject religion into government which is divisive and regressive; they want to deregulate corporations, which history has shown to be destructive, they support authoritarian rather than democratic ideas; they support policies that hurt the middle class and the majority of Americans; and finally they are cruel and insensitive to the poor and disadvantaged, always claiming they are freeloaders.  What fool would vote for such a party except a very greedy rich person. As a political party they have no redeeming qualities.  They have no character, no humanity, no intelligence, no wisdom and no virtue I can think of.  They are the bottom of the human barrel.  And our misguided president treats them with too much respect and legitimacy.

  •  One party, two legs, riding on different horses. (0+ / 0-)

    The horses diverge.

    GOOD.

  •  So that leaves 47% that ... (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing else to say.

    Sorry couldn't help myself - the mention of 53% left a really big hole that needed to be walked though.

  •  Tom Dewey and Ike would have to be Dems today (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, GayHillbilly, glaze

    In '49 Dewey a liberal New York Republican and Eisenhower were the leading contenders for the '52 presidential nomination. One could argue that Obama is closer to them than to Truman and Adlai Stevenson.

  •  You ain't kiddin... (0+ / 0-)
    If only Democrats were as fierce in their advocacy for good, popular policies as Republicans are for bad, unpopular ones.
    It's largely our fault. Republicans are simpletons, bigots and worse but the one thing they do well is hold their politicians accountable. We don't have to adopt their insurmountable purity tests, but we could learn something from the way they interract w/their politicians.

    And learn to expect more...

  •  Extremists in GOP fleece (0+ / 0-)

    No easy task.  Republicans know all about fleecing...

  •  Asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glaze

    It's easier to stand for the status quo and backwards than for progress  to answer your rhetorical question at the end. Plus the Rs have a huge lying oops I mean messaging machine namely the corrupt corporate media.

  •  Where's The Petition To Pressure RepubliKlans? (0+ / 0-)

    WTF! It's the RepubliKlans who are the problem! There must be thousands of kossacks who live in red districts and ITS THE FUCKING RACIST REPUBLIKLANS who are the problem. So wouldn't the sane thing be for kossacks in red districts to contact RepubliKlans and put the heat on them?

    Unless the RepubliKlans feel the heat, they will continue their historically unprecedented obstructionism.

    Don't you find it the least bit odd that in response to the fact that:

    congressional Republicans are in a high-profile fight to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and protect tax breaks for wealthy people.
    you want to pressure Democrats?

    That's about as asinine as thinking that more guns makes you safer

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

    by OnlyWords on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:33:18 PM PST

  •  That 53% seems pretty close to the 53% who didn't (0+ / 0-)

    vote for Romney.  

    Hmmmmmm...

  •  Can't believe it. (0+ / 0-)

    I've talked ab00t this -- in this diary for instance.

    It seems unbelievable, but we are at a stage where the pillars of today's conservativism simply can't get any traction.

    Abortion? Romney tried to avoid this as much as possible, but the Rape Senators couldn't let it go, and it ended up costing them the Senate.

    No tax increases? A majority of the public is FOR raising taxes on the wealthy. Obama campaigned on this with ZERO ambiguity. They've lost this one big.

    Guns? This seemed to be their last safe hiding place.
    Not anymore.

    Part of this is the fault of the messengers. John Boehner is Really Bad At His Job. *  One of his requirements as Speaker is to be able to corral his troops and coalesce around his ideas and his leadership. However, Boehner is a guy who has no real ideas of his own. Leadership? He couldn't get lead people out of a burning building.

    And Wayne LaPierre is a total flake. TOTAL. Him Rush, Coulter, Hannity, they've all gone off the rails. They can't even do their usual spin the right way anymore!!!

    It truly is a thing of beauty to behold.

    *$1 royalty to Rachel Maddow!

    Message to Dems: We HAVE to start showing up for Midterms.

    by Jank2112 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:53:09 PM PST

  •  Nope. (0+ / 0-)

    I won't sign.  I receive a piddling amount of Social Security, and it is a just position.  There is some form of means testing going on even now.  And I did not work a lot of years.  It is fair.

    I am interested in Social Security being there for future generations.  I don't mind the CPI chain thing being adjusted.  It does not total up to much for me, and could save the program for more years to come.

    If all we do in this world is look out for our own most sacred interests, and not for anyone who comes after, what makes us different from Republicans--for whom I have no respect at all.

    A healthy democracy means compromise, give and take.  Sure we fight for an optimum, and I guess it makes us heroes if we go over the cliff and we have stood tall and never compromised, but what about unemployment benefits, and other things like tax credits for people struggling to make their business work.  I am willing to give up something.  I just said so.  I am not, not signing the petition.  I am not pure.

    •  It's great that you (and I as well) are (0+ / 0-)

      in a situation that we don't have to actually live solely on our monthly SS checks.

      Apparently, you don't seem to understand/believe that  too many people are barely scraping by on SS as their only source of income.

      They have already compromised - rather have been compromised - by actions and policies that benefit the Haves to detriment of the Have-Nots.

      What is a 'piddling amount' to you and me is not a piddling amount to many, many others.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 06:23:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A swift kick in the ass? (0+ / 0-)

    And since Harry Truman and LBJ died in quick succession, I haven't seen a Democrat on the national stage that can give them one.

  •  that last comment really seems unneeded (0+ / 0-)

    espeically if even only half of what the WSJ is reporting is true

    I mean I get the impluse to publically humilate the GOP but do we really want copy their behavior? Especailly given where it lead them?

  •  The framing here is all wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    It's not just that the Republicans don't do enough for the poor and middle class--their policies are extremely harmful to all but the super-wealthy.  People who earn $250-$500,000 per year are actually subsidizing the tax breaks that the uber-rich receive.  These people have far more in common with people who make $25-$50,000/year than they do with people like Mitt Romney, but they don't realize it.  If people actually voted their economic interests, this Republican Party would get about 1% of the vote in every election.

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