November 2nd was a very bad day for Democrats - indeed, the worst since November 8, 1994 when Democrats lost their four-decade hold on the House of Representatives, control of the US Senate and 472 state legislative seats across the country. Newt Gingrich and his new majorities were triumphant. I was polling then for President Bill Clinton and the poll findings today in this joint poll with Resurgent Republic look eerily similar. On election night, an identical two-thirds said the country is seriously off on the wrong track; an identical 45 percent said Clinton and Obama were moving the country in the right direction; and Clinton and Obama had almost identical favorability ratings - split evenly between favorable and unfavorable responses.
And we all know how that story ended presidentially - two years later, Bob Dole only getting 41 percent of the vote and Bill Clinton won an Electoral College landslide. While this survey fully documents the scale of the Republican’s ‘historic’ election victory, it underscores even more the risks for the new Republican majority and opportunities for President Obama and the Democrats in seeing history repeat itself.
(Full results of the poll including graphs, memo and results are available atDemocracy Corps.)
What Message Voters Were Sending
Make no mistake about the seriousness of what the voters said on Election Day. Voters expressed their deep discontent - voting against the Democrats and the Obama agenda and very conscious that they were seeking to end Democratic control of the Congress.
- Voters wanted to punish Democrats. Voters were angry over an economy stuck at 10 percent unemployment and economic policies that apparently failed to move the jobs numbers.
- They were angrier still at the lack of focus on jobs, as evident in the year-long struggle over health care.
- The president and Democrats offered no economic framework, economic vision, or campaign message appropriate to the scale of the crisis and that would provide voters with context for the spending, bailouts, and debt.
- The Democrats lost white non-college voters in general, and working class voters in particular, who were put off by the Democrats’ assertions about economic progress - they were not certain that Democrats stood with them, rather than Wall Street. Many of these were voters cut out of a Reagan-Democratic mold and who rejected Bush’s economy in the last two elections - they have to be won back. The road back to the industrial Midwest runs through their communities.
- And voters were angry with the continuing partisan warfare, the lack of change in Washington and lack of economic progress - at a time of acute crisis.
So, voters had plenty to say. As Whit Ayers notes in his memo, independent voters were the carriers of that message, cutting their vote for Democrats by 13 points, giving the Republicans an 18-point margin.
Post election survey jointly conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research andAyres, McHenry & Associates for Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republicon November 2-3, 2010 among 1,000 2008 voters, 866 of whom voted in the 2010 election.