A new poll suggests that both parties could have a huge problem gaining traction in next year's election.
The public "is angrier with the state of the country than we have ever witnessed," according to Democratic consultants Stan Greenberg, James Carville, and Al Quinlan, basing their assessment on the latest survey by Democracy Corps and on a series of focus groups around the country. "While this current period is one of voters' contempt and frustration with the leadership of the country and our times, the biggest challenge and opportunity one year out from the 2008 election is whether the Democrats will become the voice of change."
The analysts point out that 70 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track and that most Americans disapprove of President Bush's job performance. Both of those findings have turned up in other polls, which also show that Congress's job approval rating is lower than the president's. Greenberg, Carville, and Quinlan say the Democrats enjoy "a stable 13-point lead—53 percent to 40 percent—in voter preference for a Democrat in the next presidential election and have a 10-point lead—51 to 41—for a Democrat for Congress."
But the Democratic majority in Congress has only lukewarm ratings among voters, and the analysts admit "Democrats have not yet found their voice as agents of change, except perhaps on Iraq, and risk falling short of their greatest aspirations. . . . Democratic candidates for president and Congress are polling at 51 and 53 percent in the various races, but if 2008 is to bring a tidal wave, Democrats and progressives must become more fully the voice of what is wrong with these times. It is not enough to be anti-Iraq and anti-Bush."
—Kenneth T. Walsh