While many Tea Party activists have become increasingly disillusioned with Republicans for being allegedly willing to sell out their principles, Americans at large don’t appear to agree on the need for a harder line from Republicans. In fact, if a new poll from CNN is accurate (more on that later), the country may want Republicans to back down even more.
The poll, taken between December 16 and 18, shows some alarming statistics for Republicans, especially those concerned about negotiations over the fiscal cliff. From CNN’s writeup:
According to the survey, 53% say the GOP should compromise more, with 41% saying the Democratic Party should give up more of the proposals it supports to develop bipartisan solutions.[…]
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they view the policies of the GOP as too extreme, up 17 points from two years ago. Only 37% say they view the polices of the Democratic Party as too extreme.
It probably doesn’t help that House Speaker John Boehner, who’s leading GOP fiscal cliff negotiations with the president, is held in fairly low regard, particularly in comparison to Obama. According to the poll, 34% of the public approves of how the top Republican in the House handling his job. By contrast, the president’s approval rating stands at 52%.
These numbers may justifiably strike some people as alarming. However, TheBlaze took a look at the poll, and there are some bright spots and unexplained issues with the numbers.
For instance, a majority of Americans are glad Republicans control the House of Representatives, in spite of thinking their policy choices are too extreme. Moreover, while Republicans have been in much better positions in terms of public perception of their policies in the past, Democrats have consistently bested them in appearing mainstream to the public, even at the height of the 2010 Tea Party wave.
Nevertheless, at the height of that wave, only 36 percent of the country viewed the GOP as too extreme, with 58 percent thinking their views were generally mainstream. That number has almost completely reversed, with 53 percent viewing the GOP as too extreme now, and 43 percent viewing them as generally mainstream. Yet for strategists who may want to correct this problem, the poll offers little guidance.
CNN’s poll director observed that the numbers reflect a damaged GOP brand, but the poll does not test particular Republican policies for a perception of extremism. Rather, it simply lumps all those policies together under the Republican umbrella. As such, Republicans would come away from the poll knowing that their brand is damaged and that Americans view them as too extreme, but with no idea why.
In short, this poll may be cause for alarm among Republican partisans, but it also possibly offers information that those partisans already know.