If you are wondering why Democrats are running a campaign to scare Americans about how terrible a Republican-led Congress would be, instead of running on their accomplishments and campaign promises, the latest Gallup poll has your answer. Gallup found that financial reform was the only issue out of those polled that received favorable marks from a majority of Americans.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the stimulus package, the automaker rescue, the new health care law, and the administration’s actions to save Wall Street are all rather unpopular, a majority of Americans disapproving of each. Besides the aforementioned financial reform, there is little that Democrats have done that the polls tell them they should crow about.
Not polled was the important student loan reform that Democrats passed as part of the health care reconciliation package. While the move to take private profit out of the student loan system is actually a very significant change (one I suspect would be very popular if anyone knew about it), the Obama administration has failed to promote it. From a political perspective, an accomplishment no one knows about is the same as no accomplishment at all.
Normally the party in power runs on their achievements. If those accomplishments are popular, the party in power is often does well, if they are unpopular, or there are no accomplishments, the party in power likely does very poorly.
With a bad economy and almost every major action taken by the majority party tracking as unpopular, Democrats are left with very little to run on. This is why the Dems are going with a “Sarah Palin is scary” or “Sharron Angle is scary” campaign, despite the failure of the Republican’s “Nancy Pelosi is a scary, West Coast liberal” 2006 campaign strategy. When you have nothing to run on, the final fallback position is arguing that you are less bad of two really bad choices.
As a side note, I think it is interesting that according to a 2009 Gallup poll and an early 2010 CBS News poll, 44 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. That means slightly more Americans support legalizing cannabis than approve of most of the Democrats’ major actions since Obama took office. When people try to pretend legalization is a “fringe” issue, keep in mind fewer Americans approve of the stimulus package, the new health care law, or the auto rescue than support legalizing marijuana.