May 24, 2002


Democrats report dissatisfaction (Donald Lambro, May 23, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
As Democratic leaders struggle to find an election year issue that cuts into President Bush's popularity, a survey of 1,002 adults by the independent Pew Research Center uncovered deep dissatisfaction in the party over the kinds of issues its leadership has been focusing on lately.

Only 64 percent of Democrats approve of the way House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota are doing their job, the Pew survey showed. This compares with an 80 percent job approval score that Republicans gave their party's leadership.

"Perhaps more significant, barely half of Democrats [51 percent] say the party is doing an excellent or good job of standing up for such core principles as representing the interests of working people, protecting minorities and helping the poor," the Pew report said.

Pew findings come at a time when other polls show that Mr. Bush's job approval numbers are still in the high 70s and that 44 percent of Hispanic voters--who account for a major part of the Democratic Party's voter base--say they will vote for Mr. Bush in 2004. That is 9 points higher than the percentage of Hispanics who voted for him in 2000. [...]

The Pew poll, conducted between May 6 and 16, also found that "as many as one-third of Democrats believe the party's leaders are speaking out too little in response to Bush's policies. That number rises to 46 percent among Democrats who express general disapproval of the job Democratic leaders in Congress are doing."

Midterm elections tend to be turnout elections--so, for instance, angry white men carried the GOP to landslide victory in 1994--and that turnout requires that you get your base all jacked up and angry at whoever is in office. Democrats run a tremendous risk if they try doing this for the 2002 midterm, because it puts them in open and rancorous opposition to a popular wartime president. You'd still have to expect them to pick up seats and maybe even to retake the House, but, thanks to the unnatural restraint this situation imposes, it could be a close run thing. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2002 6:48 AM
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