April 13, 2014

Poll Watch: We're Out of Touch

There's been a lot of polling over the past year checking our overall sense of how much or little we approve of Congress or President Obama, and we know that for the most part those results have been abysmal. Congressional approval has been in the single digits, and POTUS has also been tagged with horrible numbers.

There are lots of other poll questions out there, though, that don't seem to get as much play.  Here are some recent results from one generally conservative polling organization I subscribe to that I thought were interesting:
  • 66% of likely voters favor getting sexual assault cases out of the hands of commanders and into the hands of the military judge advocates. Recently, legislation related to this was voted down.
  • Only 47% think that reducing taxes helps the economy (a six-year low for this polling agency), but  Republicans continue to champion that message and push legislation in that direction.
  • By a 2-to-1 margin, voters disagree with the SCOTUS decision on McCutcheon, the case that was championed by the Republican National Committee and Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate. Further, more than half of us think that Congress should regulate campaign contributions, and that our free speech rights are not violated if that regulation occurs. The most important thing, we think? Full disclosure of all contributions. 
  • And then there's this: 59% of Republicans think Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the party's base, and 23% think the Rs in Congress are more conservative than the people.  
  • On the other side, 27% of Dems think their folks in Congress are more liberal than the base, and 30% think the Dems are out of touch. 

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Here in New York, one of the hot topics is whether we'll allow medical marijuana. Our Sonova Governor Andrew Cuomo included a proposal for testing this at a limited number of hospitals across the state in his State of the State address.  Polls have reflected different levels of approval, with a recent one showing New Yorkers approve by about 10-to-1, while others have reflected weaker support.  Will we get there this legislative term? Probably not.

And then there's the NY SAFE Act, the quite a bit reasonable/somewhat stupid gun legislation Cuomo was able to rush through last year. As we come up on one of the major deadlines -- April 15th for registering so-called assault weapons -- we have a significant majority of counties across the state officially disapproving of the law, and some counties and police jurisdictions indicating they won't enforce the law.

That contrasts with recent polling indicating that 63% of voters support the SAFE Act. a slight uptick from last year.  Geographically (and not surprisingly) support is strongest in NYC and downstate; upstate there is a slight majority opposed to the law. I did find it surprising that  a majority of whites and men support it, although in smaller numbers than do women and minorities.

So - at the federal level, the state level, and the local level, we can easily find a disconnect between what voters say they want and what their elected officials seem to be doing. So I've gotta ask, are you happy with your elected officials?  Do they have any sense at all what you're interested in, and what you think is important? Have you told them lately what's on your mind?

Maybe, they do what they want because they're smarter than we are, and realize better than we do what we want or need.  Maybe, they do what they do because of the 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' process in which they work. Or maybe they do what they do because so few of us actually care enough to vote.

I wonder, are we more out of touch than they are?  

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