March 13, 2015
Apparently—and try not to pass out from shock on this one—there’s a disconnect between what Washington is talking about and the rest of the country is worried about. Gallup reports on their latest survey:
Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans’ mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.
Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.
This will be spun into sixteen different contortions, with liberals arguing the public are fed up with Republican congressional dysfunction, conservatives contending people disapprove of big bureaucracy (but not the Pentagon!), centrists claiming a mandate for more tinkering around the edges, and libertarians sighing that the implications are pretty damned clear.
Two major takeaways here. First, while the public still broadly disapprove of the economy, they appear to believe it’s gotten slightly better over the past month—enough to trigger a five-point shift to other issues. It will still be a vulnerability for Democrats in 2016, but dissatisfaction with Obama’s blithering economic stewardship might not be as potent for Republicans as it was in 2010 or could have been in 2012.
Second, despite the fervent wishes of certain foreign policy wonks in Washington, 2016 is not going to be an election about terrorism or ISIS or Iran or Bashar al Assad or the NSA or ground troops. Consequently, while the neoconservatives vs. realists clash within the GOP that many of us were hoping to have out in a presidential year might still happen, it’s not going to matter all that much. Barring a terrorist attack or another string of ISIS beheadings, the public has returned to its traditional, kitchen-table concerns: the economy, taxes, health insurance.
I guess that means we need to start writing depressing Obamacare blog posts again. Le sigh. Washington might believe it’s the center of the universe, but it’s more like that space station from Ascension, deluded into thinking it’s the hope of mankind with no clue what’s actually going on.
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Disclaimer: Not written by Lorra B.