Why The Republicans Lost, Part IIby Doug Mataconis
The Club for Growth today released new survey data that shows the Republican Party has completely lost its brand as the party of limited government and low spending. The poll is instructive since it surveyed voter attitudes in 15 battleground districts where neither candidate suffered from personal scandal.
Regarding Tuesday’s election results, former congressman and Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said, “There’s no doubt in my mind it was not a repudiation of conservatives but it was a repudiation of the Republican Party.” The results from this survey prove that.
Some key results:
When you look at Washington today, please tell me whether you think the Republicans or the Democrats are doing a better job on each issue. If you see no difference between the parties on these issues, just say so.
Q: “Eliminating Wasteful Spending”;
No Difference 30.3%
Don’t know/Refused 6.0%
Now tell me whether you think the following phrases better describe the Republicans or the Democrats in Washington.
Q: “The Party of Big Government”;
Don’t know/Refused 7.4%
Would you agree or disagree with the following statement: “The Republicans used to be the party of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and limited government, but in recent years, too many Republicans in Washington have become just like the big spenders that they used to oppose.”
Strongly Agree 43.4%
Somewhat Agree 22.4%
Strongly Disagree 13.4%
Somewhat Disagree 13.0%
Don’t know/Refused 7.9%
And to those who would argue that the electorate has changed its mind, that the idea of limited government, tax cuts, and fiscal restraint doesn’t fly anymore, take at look at this:
Q: All other things being equal, which type of candidate for Congress would you be more likely to vote for? A candidate who wants to reduce overall federal spending, even if that includes cutting some money that would come to your district; or, a candidate who is willing to increase overall spending on federal programs and grow the federal budget, in order to get more federal spending and projects for your district?
Cut spending 57.3%
Bring home projects 27.6%
Don’t know/Refused 15.1%
Q: The 2003 federal tax cuts lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividend income. In two years, those taxes will go up if Congress does not extend the tax cuts. Do you support extending the current lower rates on capital gains and dividends, or do you support allowing those taxes to go up?
Extend the tax cuts 62.1%
Allow taxes to rise 24.8%
Don’t know/Refused 13.1%
Q: The 2003 federal tax cuts lowered income tax rates across the board,cutting the lowest tax rate from 15% down to 10%, and cutting the highest tax rate from 39.6% down to 35%. In four years, those tax rates will return to their previously higher levels if Congress does not extend the tax cuts. Do you support extending the current lower income tax rates, or do you support allowing the income tax cuts to expire and let rates return to their previous higher levels?
Extend the tax cuts 59.1%
Allow the tax cuts to expire 26.8%
Don’t know/Refused 14.1%
Q: The 2001 federal tax cuts phased out the inheritance tax, also known as the death tax. The law is currently scheduled to completely eliminate the death tax in four years, but then it allows the death tax to return in the year 2011. Would you prefer to have the death tax permanently eliminated, or would you prefer to see the death tax brought back in 2011?
Permanent elimination 61.6%
Brought back in 2011 21.5%
Don’t know/Refused 16.9%
The American public still believes in small government. They just didn’t think the Republicans do anymore. Given the record of the past six years, their assessment would appear to have been accurate.