In the wake of CNN's poll
showing the GOP have reached historic unpopularity while the president and his party gained popularity, ABC/Washington Post confirms
The president’s approval rating, at 51 percent positive and 44 percent negative, has remained steady in the face of fresh disclosures about the IRS, the Benghazi attack and the Justice Department’s secret collection of telephone records of Associated Press journalists as part of a leak investigation.
A majority of poll respondents believe the IRS deliberately harassed tea party groups, and 55 percent say the administration is hiding facts about Benghazi (boosted by Republicans at 81 percent, along with 60 percent of independents).
These results are quite interesting—they support what I wrote yesterday, that people just don't care about these "scandals". In other words, the problem isn't that the public doesn't understand these issues. Apparently they do. They've heard the Republican arguments, they've considered them, majorities think the administration was wrong ... and they still don't care.
Why? Probably because none of these supposed scandals affect people directly, while the improving economy does. Perhaps the public is willing to give presidents some leeway as long as they get something in return. During the Bush years, it was a feeling of security. Now, it's a feeling of economic well-being.
But part of it could be the blatant overreach by Republicans. They're taking what Americans clearly see as minor breeches and trying to turn them into a death penalty case. And Beltway conventional wisdom has taken note. Here's Stu Rothenberg a week ago, arguing the "scandals" would hurt Dems in 2014:
Forget background checks and gun control, divisions within the GOP on immigration, and Republican intransigence on negotiating a budget deal with the president. The current triple play of Benghazi, the IRS and now the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records has the potential to be a political game changer for 2014.
One week later
Republicans failed to capitalize on President Bill Clinton’s inappropriate conduct by over-playing their hand and pushing impeachment. Not only did they fail to drive him from office, the GOP ended up losing a handful of House seats in the 1998 midterms instead of adding seats as initially expected.
And Charlie Cook
Republicans allowed themselves to look as if they were primarily interested in scoring political points and overturning the results of the 1996 election, even if it meant paralyzing the government.
That same danger exists once again for the GOP.
One wonders how long Republicans are going to bark up this tree, perhaps the wrong tree, while they ignore their own party’s problems, which were shown to be profound in the most recent elections. Clearly none of these recent issues has had a real impact on voters yet. Republicans seem to be betting everything on them, just as they did in 1998—about which even Newt Gingrich (who was House speaker that year) commented recently to NPR, “I think we overreached in ’98.”
Let me stress the big takeaway from that ABC poll: The American people generally agree with the GOP's crazy claims that the Obama Administration is engaged in coverups in the IRS and Benghazi "scandals", but they don't care. Screaming louder, which is the GOP's modus operandi, won't exactly change that equation.
Rather, it seems to be rallying people to the president's side.