Washington’s Best Kept Secret

An Elephant in the Room That Could Be a Game Changer

It’s probably Washington’s best kept secret. A pair of statistics, the dynamics of which could blow this election cycle wide open doesn’t seem to get any play from either side of the aisle. It’s not intentionally covered up by the political class. In fact, it’s in plain view of every political junkie who surfs the Internet in search of some electoral bone to gnaw on.

I’m speaking of course about approval ratings. If you said, “I know…. Bush’s approval rating is the lowest it’s ever been – the lowest since someone invented polling,” you’re only getting a third of the story. It’s the other two thirds that should have dominated the news over the past few weeks when we were hearing about the latest Washington pork fest and the huge drag Sarah Palin was supposed to be on the McCain campaign after the Vice Presidential debate.

Perhaps, the reason neither campaign has made an issue of this secret is that both are tied to the consequences it could bring. It is a powerful snippet of information that cannot be easily spun to anyone’s political advantage. It is astonishing however that the Punditry – especially conservative talk radio and the right end of the Blogosphere – has not given it any thought. Nestled just below President Bush’s approval rating – the one we hear about on the mainstream media every night – is the Congressional approval rating. That would be the Democratic Congress.

Real Clear Politics:

President Bush Job Approval
RCP Average
Approve — 26.7
Disapprove — 69.0

Congressional Job Approval
RCP Average
Approve — 17.8
Disapprove — 75.6

Granted, there are Republicans in both houses of Congress, but the Democrats enjoy significant majorities making it possible for them to enact any legislation they see fit – including the $700B Wall Street welfare package that went down in flames a week ago. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House guaranteed her party a campaign issue by preceding the vote with an angry partisan speech that turned off wavering Republicans from joining the “Yea” votes. She blamed the Republicans for the bill’s failure and a cooperative media parroted the charge. Possibly nowhere in the mainstream media was it mentioned that not only does Pelosi enjoy a majority, but more Republicans voted for the bill than Democrats voting against it. In other words, of the 95 Democrats opposing the bill, only a few dozen would need to switch. It is this partisan politics of perpetual deadlock that has soured the American public on their Congress’ job performance. The “change” we keep hearing about, from the perspective of Main Street, is a change from the partisan gridlock that has characterized the Pelosi/Reid reign.

Some people are now beginning to analyze the impact of the partisan hackery of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, her Senate counterpart. Barack Obama has a lot to worry about if their analysis should ever make air or print. In short, the American public not only disapproves overwhelmingly of Congress’ performance, they place most of the blame on the Democratic leadership in both houses.

Rasmussen Reports, in two separate polls ranked the Bush approval rating and Congressional approval ratings. Bush earned a 34% approval rating for August, according to their September 2nd survey results. Bush enjoys positive reviews from 70% of Republicans, 11% of Democrats and 32% of those not affiliated with either party. While recent tracking polls show Bush falling out of favor because of the economic downturn, he still remains more popular than Congress.

An example of the damage partisan politicking from Democratic Congressional leadership is the underwhelming support Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid receive from people in their own parties.

Pelosi’s Problem:

In Rasmussen polling, Congress’ approval rating still hovers around 9% of likely voters. Rasmussen reports 25% of Democrats view their Speaker favorably and 14% of Democrats unfavorably. President Bush is viewed more favorably by Democrats than Nancy Pelosi and his unfavorable rating among Democrats is lower than that of the Speaker. For the first time in recent memory, many voters have begun to move away from the notion that all of Congress is a bunch of rubes except the guy they put in office. We may be facing an anti-incumbent trend in this election. If Rasmussen’s trends for the Congress in general and Pelosi in particular are any indication, the Democrats may not have as much a chance at expanding their majority as Chris Matthews and Bob Beckel would like you to believe.

Reid’s Rejection:

Harry Reid is even more unpopular among Democrats than Speaker Pelosi is. He is viewed unfavorably by 41% of Democrats, 8% of whom view him “very unfavorably”. While Rasmussen acknowledges a partisan divide – 64% of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated likely voters have an unfavorable view of Congress, only 35% of Democrats feel the same, the news hasn’t reached the public yet that the party of hope and change is running the house of the status quo.

Why hasn’t this affected the Obama campaign? Chances are, the Punditry will blame McCain’s lackluster campaign or Sarah Palin’s normality. The truth may well have something to do with the Republican candidates or their campaign. However, the evidence points more to the fact that a clear explanation of who runs the 110th Congress – and how they’ve done business the past two years – has never made it into the mainstream media. Other than a few talk show hosts, nobody has pointed out that the current Democratic presidential candidate received more walking around money from Fannie Mae than anyone else in Congress other than Chris Dodd. In spite of the wide circulation of a YouTube video showing aggressive defense of the corrupt institution by leading Democrats, no effort has been made in the media to show how far back Republicans were sounding the alarm about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Democrat after Democrat defended Franklin Raine’s stewardship of the doomed enterprise even as he was running it into the ground, and even with a clear public record a mere Google search away, the story seems too hard for our “free press” to uncover.

Why hasn’t the Obama campaign’s ties to the corruption and avarice that created the current economic mess been covered? When the McCain campaign tried to expose the corrupt link between Franklin Raines’ plunder of Fannie Mae and his role as chief economic advisor to the
Obama campaign, McCain was accused of being a racist. His hate crime? Showing two “sinister looking black men” in a campaign ad. The two “sinister looking black men” happened to be the candidate and his chief economic advisor, both of whom need to be held to account for the failure Fannie Mae. Obama seems to have discovered the secret to successfully surrounding himself with felons, terrorists, cult leaders and thugs: make sure they have unfettered access to the race card. If McCain can’t show “sinister looking black men” in his ads, he cannot even show the Democrat candidate (whom Joe Biden has acknowledged is not “sinister looking”. Virtually any question of Obama’s policies or associations has been met not with refutations or clarifications; he has resorted to the last refuge of political strength that is the weapon of choice for community organizers – race. If McCain could level the charges – and proof – that are appropriate for anyone and simply push back on the race card, Obama can be shown for the cog in the Chicago Political Machine that he is.

The Elephant in the Room:

The public knows that the 110th Congress is broken and that we need change. They know that Bush’s administration has not been stellar – especially in the past two years having to work with a do-nothing Democrat Congress. Amidst all of the clamor for change is the elephant in the room. It looms large in the potential for an anti-incumbent sweep of Congress and not a few unexpected losses in the Senate. Even if both leading candidates for President are part of the Sausage Factory, both are campaigning on a platform of change – Obama toward a Socialist utopia and McCain toward a bipartisan cooperative. Neither is realistic in the final analysis. But if Joe Six-pack wakes up some morning between now and November 4th, looks at the mess Congress made and who the key players are, there is a faint hope that we can at least give bipartisan cooperation a fair shot.


Rasmussen Reports: Bush Approval
Rasmussen Reports: Democrat Congress Approval

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