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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Is Obama Defying Public Opinion?

One of the things you hear often from conservatives these days is that President Obama is stubbornly pursuing his “liberal” or “socialist” agenda despite the large and growing opposition of the American people.
Nate Silver of 538.com quite naturally wants to know if that’s really true, and he’s conducted an analysis of public opinion on twenty-five issues where the administration has taken a position, usually against a majority of congressional Republicans.
Here’s his conclusion:

Of these 25 issues, Obama’s position appears to be on the right side of public opinion on 14: the bank tax, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign finance, the credit card bill, D.C. voting rights, fair pay, financial regulation, gays in the military, hate crimes, the jobs bill, mortgage relief, PAYGO, SCHIP, and Sotomayor. It would appear to be on the wrong side of public opinion on five issues: the GM/Chrysler bailout, Guantanamo Bay, health care, the extension of the TARP program, and terrorist trials. On the other six issues, the polling is probably too ambiguous to render a clear verdict.
Republicans, on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly opposed to almost all of these measures with the exception of Ben Bernanke and Afghanistan troops, both of which poll ambiguously, and the credit card bill, which polled well.

Health care, TARP and the auto company bailout have, of course, gotten a lot more publicity than the rest of these issues. But much of politics revolves around focusing attention on things that don’t immediately get publicity. And Democrats would be well advised to continue their recent effort to focus some attention on the GOP’s own agenda, which really does tend to defy public opinion, just as it did prior to the 2006 and 2008 elections.

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