Indies Rejecting GOP “Cuts Only” Sermon

At some point, Republicans will have to leave the cozy confines of the Tea Party rallies, Lincoln Day dinners, right wing blogs, and conservative talk radio echo chambers. At some point, they have to listen to independent voters. After all, rare is the candidate who can win a general election without earning a sizeable proportion of the 51% of Minnesotans who call themselves “independents.”

When Republicans do start listening to the indies, they’re not going to like what they hear.

Do I hear an "amen?"
“Cuts only” is what the GOP is prosletyzing these days. In Minnesota, their insistence on filling a budget shortfall without new revenue led to a government shutdown and another Republican borrowing binge. So Republicans mostly won the policy fight, but will they win the 2012 electoral fight?

A MinnPost poll published yesterday found that very few Minnesota independents are shouting “amen” to the “cuts only” sermons that conservatives have been so vigorously preaching. While 22% of independents support the cuts only Republican approach, more than three times as many (72%) support using a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, the approach DFL Governor Dayton advocated. That’s a 50-point spread, and other recent polls have had similar findings.

(By the way, even a plurality of Republicans (50% support) supported Dayton’s balanced approach over the cuts only approach (42% support)).

Likewise, 46% of Minnesotans unaffiliated with either major party blame Republicans for the government shutdown, while only 18% blame Dayton, and 25% blame both.

Still, you get the sense that Republicans aren’t believing they have a problem, because it’s not what they hear at the places they hang out. Instead, they quibble about poll methodology, congratulate each other on their courage and integrity, and seek out comfy places where their position is reinforced.

Yes, the election is a long time away, and voters memories will fade. But it’s likely that the 2012 campaign debates will continue to center on the “balanced versus cuts only” debate, because budget shortfalls remain on Minnesota’s horizon as far as the eye can see. And it’s not a debate that looks to be going well for Republicans.

– Loveland

9 thoughts on “Indies Rejecting GOP “Cuts Only” Sermon

  1. Erik Peterson says:

    I thought we had determined prior here at SRC that independants are morons. And I’m not engaging in parody, thats a perfectly fine point. Who cares what they think.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    I think independents make false equivalence errors, but I certainly don’t deny that they are crucial to electoral success. Those are two separate issues.

    1. Erik Peterson says:

      Right. But insofar as they are always seeking out the most faux reasonable, faux well considered ground to stand on…. that ground is always shifting. There’s not much way to guarantee where that ground will be in November ’12. You try to placate moderates at your peril.

      If you’re a Republican, you ought to be trying to placate me… who’s never given you $ and never attended a caucus but does have ideological alignments that need to be maintained. I’m an independant.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        But the summer and fall before the election, the campaign debate will still be focused on “how are you going to fill the budget shortfall.” It’s the dominant issue of the times in MN. And Republicans will still be saying “cuts only.” At that point of the campaign, Republicans need independent votes to win, and that position doesn’t sell with three-fourths of them. Yes, the election is 15 months away. Yes, independents don’t help win fundraising battles, caucuses and primaries. But Republicans will still be defending the “cuts only” message the fall before Election Day, and there is no reason to believe it sells any better with independents then than it does now.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Some, not all, “independents” identify with the Independence Party. For the purpose of this poll, small “i” independents are voters who don’t identify with either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

  3. john sherman says:

    It’s a bit ironic that the party of fiscal responsibility got their numbers to add up only by shoving costs, many created by mandates, off on local units so they could raise property taxes, borrowing from a fund basically created by Skip Humphrey through a suit Republicans largely opposed and stiffing the schools.

    I’d like to see what would happen if all those people who complain about government programs providing benefits for shiftless ne’er-do-wells suddenly realized how far their own snouts are in the government trough. A while back their was survey of people receiving various kinds of government benefits which asked whether the people recognized that fact. The interesting thing was that about 80% of the poor getting things like food stamps knew they were getting government help, but higher up the economic ladder only about 40% knew it. I notice a strong disposition for people to believe that government succor that goes to them is a reward for virtue and a prudent investment in the future while aid for others is money wasted that only encourages trashy people to get trashier.

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    By the way, it’s great to see MinnPost doing its first public opinion survey.

    As I’ve written here before, I’m a supporter of media polls. In the age of customized niche media, it’s so easy to live your life without knowing what the population as a whole or dissimilar sub-populations think. Surveys provide reality checks to silo-ed politicians or people like me who sometimes mistakenly think that our immediate social network constitutes “everyone.”

    So, I hope MinnPost keeps doing surveys, including some that go deeper than the “disapproval/approval” kinds of horserace questions that other outlets already regularly do. It would be interesting to see them probe the values and psychology that drive voter attitudes and behaviors.

    Overall, I was not wowed when MinnPost started, wondering if it would just be Strib Lite. But it’s always added value, and it’s gotten much better over the years. Most days, I find reporting in MinnPost that adds a great deal to community discussions, and MinnPost does it with a much more more frugal and nimble model than its competitors. Nice to see MinnPost’s content getting richer still with the addition of public opinion surveys.

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