A Pox On The House (and Senate)

In the past year, Republicans and Democrats have offered Minnesotans clear and divergent visions.

GOP leaders in the Minnesota Legislature proposed no new taxes, a cuts-only approach to budgeting, and a focus on loading up the ballots with constitutional amendments on issues that poll well for them, such as gay marriage, tax limitation and photo ID.

Meanwhile, DFL Governor Dayton proposed a budget with both painful cuts and tax increases on the most powerful Minnesotans, and has tried to broker solutions on a series of contentious issues such as environmental permits, Obamacare implementation and the Vikings Stadium.

It would seem as if the GOP set the more savvy political course. After all, opposing tax increases is always popular, and “let the voters decide” is reliable crowd pleaser. Score for the Republicans, right?

At the same time, Dirty Job Dayton’s work on environmental permits and cutting social services for vulnerable Minnesotans is extremely unpopular with his liberal base. Obamacare promotion and tax increases are the two most unforgiveable sins in the eyes of conservatives. And Vikings Stadium subsidies are controversial across-the-board, including with the all-important Independents. The Governor has stepped on a lot of toes.

With those two competing policy agendas, you might expect that Governor Mark Dayton would get politically pummeled.

But so far, it’s not working out that way. According to a new Survey USA survey, Dayton’s approval rating is 50%, while the GOP Legislature’s is an astoundingly low 17%.

An approval rating of 50% for one side and 17% for the other doesn’t represent a “a pox on both of your houses” verdict. Clearly, Minnesotans are aiming their pox.

For context, Richard Nixon’s disapproval rating when he resigned in disgrace in August 1974 was 66%. The Republican Legislature’s disapproval rating is a statistically identical 65%. Even conservative Minnesotans don’t favor the GOP-controlled Legislature over Dayton (26% approval for Dayton, 25% for the GOP-led Legislature).

I know, I know. The election is still nine months away, executives tend to be more popular than institutions, and institutions can be unpopular while individuals still get reelected.

Still, these numbers are LOW, and trending in a very bad direction for Republicans. Republicans played what they felt was their best political hand in 2011, and Dayton played a very risky political hand, and somehow Dayton is getting more popular as the Legislature is getting much less popular.

You can’t chalk this up to superior communications skills. Dayton is widely considered to be a below average bully pulpeteer, while legislative leaders are pretty solid and aggressive communicators. So far, Minnesotans just seem to prefer Dirty Job Dayton’s governance approach.

- Loveland

6 Responses

  1. Loveland is slavish to opinion polls, the basis for all governance and policy formation in his world.

    • Public opinion metrics matter, because in a democracy we resolve our disputes in the court of public opinion.

      If it makes you feel any better, you’ll like the that same poll’s findings on the constitutional amendments — voter id, gay marriage and union restrictions.

  2. Why wouldn’t the public’s opinion of the Republican-controlled legislature be low? What have they done? Nothing! Zero!

    First off, I don’t think most of the Republican legislators that were newly minted in 2010 expected to be elected. They were ballot place holders who somehow managed to get elected in a multiple lighting strike.

    Second, they haven’t been at all honest with the public. Anyone else remember their first announcements that everything was going to be about jobs. Now, more than a year in office, zero jobs. That’s not exactly true, the “everyone must share the pain” Republicans actually have a larger staff at the legislature – and paying more for it – than the Democrats did. They say one thing and do the exact opposite. They have even lambasted bills that they themselves had previously authored.

    Third, they’re blatantly lazy. Short sessions, pre-packaged bills from the Koch brother, simple gerrymandered redistricting plans even more overly simplistic solutions to nonexistent problems. They haven’t done any work at all. If they worked for you would you have paid $30,000-plus a year for this kind of shoddy workmanship.

    Fourth, they can’t even keep their own house in order. Backroom affairs, dirty dealings and then they can’t even close out those embarrassments without bring up more embarrassments.

    When Dayton said they were “unfit to govern,” he was being generous.

  3. Haha. The Koch brothers are behind everything, eh? They must rank as the most influential puppet masters of all time, secretly (or not so secretly) pulling the strings of every Republican in elected office.

    Those damn Koch brothers and those damn do nothing Republicans…sitting there and doing nothing. We wouldn’t want a government that is passive. Don’t just stand there. Spend some money, for Christ’s sake! We can’t have bunch of lawmakers not making a dizzying array of new regulations and laws. After all, we elect them to babysit us and take care of us. There isn’t a problem under the sun that government can’t and shouldn’t address. So damn it. Do something!

  4. Mike, read this about ALEC and the Koch brothers:
    http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/koch-connection
    Then read today about the so-called tort reform they passed, which is straight out of ALEC.

    You can’t POSSIBLY defend the current Republican legislature. Even you haven’t gone over to the dark side that much. They are utterly incompetent at EVERYTHING they do. They borrow money from our schools, they shut down the government so we have lowest-common-denominator budgeting. Their own numbers never add up. They’re abusing the constitutional amendment process to foist a bunch of social conservative garbage on us.

    Dayton was 100 percent right when he said: They are unfit to govern. And don’t think they’ll be around long.

  5. Jeremy….you are right. Republicans meddling in people’s personal lives and the family value thing creeps me out..just as liberals pushing birth control and abortion funding. Government should have no say or power over any of these decisions. Go back to figuring out how to make the business environment fair for competition, ensuring we have decent services, ensuring there is a safety net that helps those in need without taking incentives to work and reviewing regulatory edicts to make sure they are necessary before passing new ones. Then I’ll become a fan of government again.

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