With radical Republicans forging ahead on the signing of a union-busting bill in Ohio while a court blocks (again) a similar bill in Wisconsin, a new Gallup poll shows that US voters strongly side with state employee unions over the governors in these disputes. At the same time, a much-heralded Tea Party “rally” in Washington, DC drew only 250 people at most, a far cry from the estimated 100,000 reached several times during the repeated rallies in Madison. Even though Democrats are showing no leadership at all on framing the horrendous moves Republicans are making to punish poor working people for the benefit at the expense of large corporations, the Tea Party movement is clearly turning into a victim of its own hateful messaging.
As the screen capture from the Gallup poll shows, Americans favor state employee unions over governors by almost a ten point margin, 48 percent to 39 percent. Given the huge expenditures by the Koch-fueled astroturf groups demonizing state employee unions, this is an amazing result. There has been virtually no action from unions or the prominent Democrats who should be protecting them, so one can only imagine where those numbers would be if Koch-like resources were deployed on behalf of the unions.
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Tea Party’s agenda is buried in an AP-GfK poll released earlier this week. In that poll conducted from March 24 to March 28, respondents were asked “In order to balance the federal budget, which should be the main focus of lawmakers?” The response was 62 percent in favor of “Cutting government services” compared to 29 percent who favored “Increasing taxes”. However, I’d chalk that one up to the disproportionate efforts at framing the deficit issue. Perhaps the recent attention to GE’s huge profits while paying zero taxes will help to bring people to an appreciation of the sad state of the current tax structure.
More encouraging information from the AP-GfK poll is found in the area of party identification. The poll repeats the information from the 2010 elections, showing that the major problem was an enthusiasm gap, with Republicans having a 48 percent to 42 percent advantage among likely voters in mid-October but Democrats holding a narrow 43 percent to 40 percent advantage among all voters polled at the same time. The radical actions by the Republicans who were elected last fall have resulted in a huge swing of voters in favor of Democrats, with October’s 3 point advantage now swelling to twelve points, as Democrats now show a 45 percent to 33 percent advantage.
If only Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress could appreciate where public sentiment has moved since the midterms, they would realize that “negotiating” with Republicans who still are fueled by Tea Party rage against unions and government spending has no value, as Americans now are beginning to appreciate once again the value of unions. With only a little effort on messaging, the public could appreciate that the tax structure and stopping unnecessary wars (this poll shows a 50 percent opposed to 48 percent in favor of US military action in Libya) have much more to offer on reining in the deficit than cutting government services which already are at bare bones.