Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me who’s the worst president of all? Apparently, new polls are pointing all fingers at President Barack Obama as winning that honor, and that and other polls coming out this week make it possible that we could be seeing another midterm election fueled by massive voter discontent.
Midterm elections traditionally are a referendum on the president, which should have Democrats fairly worried if these new polls are any indication of the real feelings of today’s electorate. According to recent Quinnipiac University National Poll results, 45 percent of respondents say that we would be better off today if Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had won the 2012 election, compared to just 38 percent who think we would be worse off if that had happened. The same respondents also believe that President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, with 35 percent picking him as the worst, while 28 percent picked former President George W. Bush, and 13 percent picking president Richard Nixon.
The general public is quickly losing confidence in President Obama as well, according to Gallup polls, which has less than 30 percent of respondents believing that the president can do his job successfully. Then again, that may reflect more upon the massive gridlock in Congress than it does for the president itself; after all, how can he be expected to successfully run the country when Congress refuses to pass any initiatives he supports?
Will these numbers end up impacting the overall midterms? That’s harder to tell. Off year, non-presidential elections typically favor the Republicans already, and midterms usually benefit the party who doesn’t control the White House. But a massive number of Senate seats that have no incumbent are up for grabs, which means Democrats have more reason to come out statewide than they usually do in a non-presidential year.
Our last midterms, in 2010, turned into a wave GOP election that broke Tea Party all the way. It led to this current congressional makeup of lawmakers who frankly would rather see government destroyed than see their agenda not get met (as the repeated fight over the debt ceiling, the government shut downs, and the obsession with a balanced budget amendment all make clear). Gerrymandering and safeguarding Republican congressional seats, plus myriad voter suppression bills, would make it even more difficult for Democrats to regain ground.
However, the Democrats may have a tool to engage their own voters, and it’s one the Republicans themselves handed to them. The slate of recent Supreme Court cases, all of which have emphasized the GOP’s agenda to embrace big money, give more rights to corporations while stripping them from unions, minorities and women, have brought people, many of whom don’t consider themselves traditionally political, to a point where they want to reengage and make societal changes.
The question is: can that translate to votes?
There’s one last poll to examine that could be the key to unlocking the results this midterm election. According to Pew, 44 percent of Americans say they aren’t proud to be an American. Fox News, of course, reads this as anti-American, lefty, flag hating anti-patriotism, but is it?
When nearly half the country says it no longer feels proud to be American, that’s not a sign that they hate America, but that they feel that they are no longer represented in their democracy. It means that every day people wonder where the country that they believe in went, and how they can get it back and participate again. “No longer proud to be an American” really is the answer to the question, “Do you think the country is on the wrong track?” combined with a fear that the country they want to live in no longer exists.
If someone can get these people to the polls at the midterms, then there is a chance to see true change in our government. Otherwise, Congress is likely to be ground completely to a halt — at the very least until the 2016 presidential election comes along.
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