Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Polls Have Interesting News for (Some) Republicans

They may control one-half of Congress, but the Republicans are not the party in power in Washington right now. They would very much like to be so, while also holding on to the one-third of the federal trifecta they've already got. Some members are also in search of a promotion. So, there has been much staking out of political positions meant to create a difference between Republicans and the current, Democratic administration. A couple of new polls give the holders of those "we're not Biden" positions a lot to chew on.

To start, there's the newest from Fox. Recall that their news operation is basically an embarrassment (outside a few folks), but their polling is OK. Working with Beacon Research and Shaw & Company Research, Fox asked registered voters about their support for Ukraine. The outlet found that 50% of voters want to support Ukraine "as long as it takes," while 46% would prefer to establish a limited time frame.

A number of prominent Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and many members of the Freedom Caucus, have expressed skepticism about U.S. support for the war in Ukraine. Clearly, that is a minority position right now, even among Republicans, since virtually no respondents to the Fox poll wanted to cut bait right now. Obviously, the Freedom Caucusers can embrace politically unpopular positions without much risk, but anyone who wants to run a national campaign, like DeSantis, needs to think hard about this. Undoubtedly, there was a time when most Americans supported staying in Vietnam "as long as it takes," but that certainly did not hold. The Governor (and for that matter, Donald Trump) could conclude that is where this is headed, and that they are just ahead of the curve, or they could conclude that it's time to get on board Team Zelenskyy.

Perhaps even more interesting, however, is the newest poll from Marist, which asks about various issues related to the current Congress. The poll's top-level finding is that 70% of respondents favor compromise, while only 28% say members should stand on principle at all costs. Since some portion of those 28% is undoubtedly lefty Democrats, this does not bode well for the political approach of the current House Republican Conference. Beyond that, however, and more specifically, 52% of respondents favor raising the debt ceiling, while 46% oppose.

On its surface, the latter figures might seem like very good news for the GOP, since you might interpret them as saying "if the Republicans can shift a small portion of the voting public on this, then they will have the backing of a majority of voters, and will be dealing from a position of strength during the upcoming game of debt-ceiling chicken."

Not so fast, though. First, there are undoubtedly many, many voters out there who don't really understand the debt ceiling and, in particular, the consequences of a default. Some chunk of that 46%, and we would guess a sizable chunk, is really just saying "we'd like the national debt reduced." But that, of course, is not the issue that is in play here, and if there is a default, most of that 46% is not going to say "Well, I guess I asked for this" (not unlike the pro-Brexit voters who came to regret their votes). Second, when Marist asked this same question 12 years ago (during a different debt-ceiling showdown), the support for raising the debt ceiling was just 24%. So, the trendline is headed WAY in the wrong direction from the perspective of the House Republican Conference.

We shall see what happened when push finally comes to shove, probably in a couple of months. On one hand, we assume the folks running the GOP are sophisticated enough to read between the lines of poll numbers like these to understand what they are really saying. On the other hand, when people want to believe they're right, they tend to glom on to whatever information supports that belief. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates