By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Being back in power has not been "all good" for the Democrats. "A statistically significant increase" has occurred in the number of Americans who think the Democrats are "too liberal" according to the latest Gallup poll.
Gallup said the increase, from 39 percent to 46 percent, puts the number at its highest level since November 1994, when the Contract with America produced an historic GOP landslide that gave the Republicans control of Congress for the first time since the Eisenhower administration.
"The increasing perception of the Democrats as too far left comes as President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have expanded the government's role in the economy to address the economic problems facing the country," Gallup said, seeking to explain why voter attitudes toward the majority party are changing.
"Ah," says the respected GOP consultant on hearing the news, "happy days are here again. We don't have to work to redefine ourselves anymore. All the hand-wringing over what the party stands for was for nothing. All we have to do is point and yell 'Liberal' as loud as we can and we will start winning again," he says, before falling unconscious off his bar stool.
The reality is it is not that easy because the GOP, the same poll shows, has a lot of work to do when it comes to rebuilding the party's brand. While the percentage of Americans who said the Republican Party is "too conservative" has not changed since last year, 2008 was the year that number, 43 percent, hit the historical high water mark.
"As a result, now slightly more Americans perceive the Democratic Party as being too liberal than view the GOP as being too conservative," Gallup said, noting that of the more than 1,000 U.S adults over the age of 18 who were surveyed, 42 percent said the Democrats' ideology is "about right" vs. only 34 percent who said this about the Republicans.
So, despite the continued drop in support for the Democrat's agenda, the Republicans have yet to hit on the message or messages that redefine popular perceptions of the party in a way that puts back together the center-right coalition that produced electoral success for them from 1994 to 2006. And that means Obama, with his rock star approach to the presidency, continues to have the upper hand.