Ed Driscoll

Cue the Thelma and Louise Going Over the Cliff Shot

At the end of June, Stu Rothenberg wrote:

In the middle of February, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg gave some free advice to his party’s Congressional leaders via the New Republic, urging them to take a series of steps to minimize Democratic vulnerabilities (and losses) in the fall elections.

It has been four months since Greenberg’s article, “Disaster Relief: How to Avoid a Repeat of 1994,” appeared, but there is no sign of a Democratic turnaround on the horizon — only more depressing news and pessimistic public opinion data for Democrats.

* * *

Greenberg’s first suggestion for Democrats in February was to “quickly pass a version of the Senate health care bill.” That was wise advice because the alternative — getting no bill at all — would have been disastrous for the party.

But the highly regarded strategist’s prediction that passing a bill “will raise presidential and Congressional approval ratings” was overly optimistic.

Gosh, ya think? At the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib asks, “What if the Democrats hadn’t done health care?”

If the president had taken a pass on a big health bill, Democrats wouldn’t have spent so much of the crucial summer and fall of 2009 talking about health care. They might instead have been focused on the word that has emerged as the most important in this year’s election environment: jobs. Particularly because the debate on health dragged on through the end of 2009 and into 2010, many voters concluded the party had its priorities wrong.

“For many Americans, perhaps a majority, the year spent on health care represented, for them, a diversion” from the economy, says William Galston, a Democratic domestic policy analyst at the Brookings Institution.

Without a big health bill, there might not have been the marked escalation in public worries about government spending and debt that was seen at the end of 2009 and into 2010. There also might not have been such a vigorous tea-party movement; the movement, though born during the 2009 debate over economic stimulus, really flowered during town-hall debates over health care during last August’s congressional recess.

It’s also possible that without so much time taken up by health care, the Democratic Congress might have gotten around to passing a bill to combat greenhouse gases by reducing dependence on fossil fuels before the BP oil spill, changing the dynamics of the post-spill debate.

Perhaps most important in the long run, the health overhaul called for squeezing money out of Medicare and Medicaid so those funds could be used to expand health coverage for others. A laudable goal, but using those savings for expanding health coverage largely takes them off the table for use in addressing the escalating public demands to pare federal budget deficits.

Here’s the key political question: Are Democrats finally starting to get some payback? Democrats point to hints that the popularity of the legislation is slowly climbing.

And just like that, so much for that idea. As Ed Morrissey writes, “Missouri pops the ObamaCare-media bubble.”

Update: At Commentary, Peter Wehner runs the polling numbers from James Carville and the aforementioned Stanley Greenberg and spots “A Party and a Movement in the Process of Collapsing:”

We are seeing a party (Democratic) and movement (liberalism) in the process of collapsing. That doesn’t mean the ruin will be permanent and irreversible; but it is happening at a remarkable speed. And it is somewhat astonishing to witness.

Call it the collateral effects of the Obama presidency.

Speaking of which, at Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost has your must see historical election maps of the day.

Update: At Ace, it’s “Apocalypse Now” — but follow the links for even more graphical fun:

Faughan’s got the big-ass colorful charts at his site. On the economy… Oh my. Oh my. Here’s one, but they’re all good. In other findings, Dems are at -13 and -18 on who would handle the economy and deficit better; and more people think Dems are on the side of Wall Street than typical voters.

Click, click. You have to see it. It’s brightly gory. It’s like an installment of Saw produced by Pixar.

He also notes at post’s end something commenters have pointed out: That when people are now polled on who they voted for (past tense) in 2008, fewer people than 52% admit they voted for Obama. It’s something like 47%.

That’s not good — when people would rather lie to complete stranger about who they voted for than confess to having voted for you.

Heh.™