Something very unusual is going on with our politics, according to the latest Public Policy Polling. They recently found that President Obama’s re-election position is the weakest it has been in months, yet House Democrats are doing very well in the generic Congressional ballot. From PPP:
There’s a very curious thing going on in our national polling right now: voters are down on Barack Obama and it’s looking more likely that there could be a Republican in the White House in 2013. But they’re also way down on the Republicans in Congress and Democrats have now led on 11 consecutive PPP generic House ballot polls dating back to February.
Democrats lead this month 46-44 on the generic House ballot. That’s a 9 point shift from the Republicans’ 7 point margin of victory on that measure in November’s election and although it might not be enough to give them back control that margin would almost definitely translate to Democrats winning back a lot of the seats that they lost last fall. The GOP does maintain an 8 point advantage with independents at 41-33, but that represents a significant decline from their 19 point victory with them according to last year’s exit polls.
I have two theories as to why we might be seeing this divergence. The first is that the economy has struggled for so long and Washington appears so dysfunctional, that a substantial share of the electorate has taken a “throw whoever is currently in power out” stance. This translates into wanting both President Obama and Speaker John Boehner to lose their jobs.
My other thought is that President Obama has been very publicly out there saying he would cut Medicare and Social Security. These are changes that most of the House Democrats have been reluctant to publicly endorse, at least as of yet. So Obama is taking a big political hit for touching the third rail, and House Republicans have also taken a similar hit for voting earlier to privatize Medicare. But as of yet House Democrats are still in relatively good standing.
We might soon get a chance to test my second theory. If House Democrats join in cutting the social safety net by voting for some “grand bargain,” according to my theory we should see the House Democrats’ poll numbers fall more in line with President Obama’s.