Pollster Scott Rasmussen’s release last week of data showing registered voters trusted the Republicans to handle 10 key issues--the economy, ethics and government corruption, taxes, the war on terror and national security, Iraq, Afghanistan, immigration, healthcare, education, and Social Security--more than they trusted the Democrats was treated by many as an outlier.
Earlier this week the venerable Gallup organization, in its latest survey, confirmed that Rasmussen is largely on the mark. Moreover, says Gallup, the GOP enjoys a 25 percent advantage over Democrats in the critical measure of intensity, meaning that Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents are significantly more likely to turn out and vote in this November's midterm elections than are voters who support President Barack Obama.
What is going on?
It is easy to argue that Obama and the Democrats, who have controlled Congress since 2007, have made a mess of things. Unemployment, which they promised would go down after the stimulus was passed, has continued to go up. So has underemployment, a term that the Investopedia defines as "A measure of employment and labor utilization in the economy that looks at how well the labor force is being utilized in terms of skills, experience, and availability to work."
The economy looks to be sliding back towards recession, housing starts--normally a leading indicator of renewed economic growth--continue to be down, the Dow remains flat, and total U.S. indebtedness is rapidly approaching an amount equal to one year’s GDP.
The economy is the No. 1 issue on everyone’s mind, with government spending--which is hitting record levels in terms of the number of people who identify it as a major concern--running a close second. The people in charge, despite their best efforts to continue to lay the blame at the feet of George W. Bush, are getting the blame. Channeling the spirit of former President Ronald Reagan the electorate is concluding that government is not the solution to our problems. “Government,” as he famously said, “is the problem.”
It’s a sentiment that isn’t just showing up in the polling data. According to the California Republican Party, as of Wednesday San Diego County once more has more registered Republicans living there than registered Democrats.
A key indicator of the strength of the GOP in a state thought permanently lost to liberal-left idealism, the latest report from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows that within the last month the Democrats lost, by 891 voters, their majority party status in the nation’s fifth largest county.
"Republicans surging to the largest party in San Diego County is a powerful sign of the rising Republican tide," said California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring. "It’s not the left coast any more."
Indeed he may be right. Long considered the anchor of the national liberal establishment, the western coast of the United States has races that are competitive statewide from top to bottom. This year the GOP is running strong in contests for U.S. Senate in Washington state (against Sen. Patty Murray) and California (against Sen. Barbara Boxer) and for governor in Oregon and California, as well as in down ballot races in all three states.
To understand the magnitude of these changes consider that the electoral impact of these shifts would be the same, on the national level, as if Texas suddenly took a hard lurch to the left.
The GOP, as I have written before, still needs to close the deal, but for the first time in decades the party is competitive in states it had largely written off since the Reagan-Bush years. When the political history of the last two years is finally and authoritatively written it will likely conclude that Obama and the Democrats over-reached--and paid the price for it at the polls.