Obama = median Republican Voter


Excellent post by Nate Silver analyzing public opinion data and the positions of the key parties involved in the budget deal.  He boils it down into a handy chart.  Silver– quite rightly– claims that Obama has essentially adopted the position of the median Republican voter (hence, I added his name to Silver’s chart– and added a circle for me, just for fun while I was at it).


Of course, the fact that Obama is basically and the position of the typical Republican voter is further evidence of just how nuts this negotiation is.  It is taking place completely on Republican turf.  And, as Silver points out, Republicans in Congress are way outside the mainstream of public opinion on this.

Now consider the positions of the respective parties to the negotiation. One framework that President Obama has offered, which would reduce the debt by a reported $2 trillion, contains a mix of about 17 percent tax increases to 83 percent spending cuts. Another framework, which would aim for twice the debt reduction, has been variously reported as offering a 20-to-80 or 25-to-75 mix.

With the important caveat that the accounting on both the spending and tax sides can get tricky, this seems like an awfully good deal for Republicans. Much to the chagrin of many Democrats, the mix of spending cuts and tax increases that Mr. Obama is offering is quite close to, or perhaps even a little to the right of, what the average Republican voter wants, let alone the average American…

If we do take the Republicans’ no-new-taxes position literally, it isn’t surprising that the negotiations have broken down. Consider that, according to the Gallup poll, Republican voters want the deal to consist of 26 percent tax increases, and Democratic voters 46 percent — a gap of 20 percentage points. If Republicans in the House insist upon zero tax increases, there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican voters [emphasis in original] than there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.

In response to Silver’s post, Chait nicely sums up how crazy this is:

If the budget debate were a presidential election, it would be a contest between Republican Michelle Bachmann and Democrat Rick Perry.



About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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