A new CNN/Opinion Research Poll released today found that the budget deal that avoided a federal government shutdown is viewed as big win for President Obama with the American people. 58% of Americans approve of the budget deal, and the President got the lion’s share of the credit 48%-35% over the Republicans.
The CNN/Opinion Research Poll painted a picture of country that really didn’t want the government to shutdown. 63% of respondents would have considered a shutdown either a crisis or a major problem. From this viewpoint the budget agreement was viewed as a positive, and widely approved of by a margin of 58%-38%. President Obama got much of the credit for avoiding the shutdown. 48% of those polled believed that Obama and the Democrats deserve the credit for the deal, 35% credited the Republicans, and 11% felt that the credit should be shared.
Obama personally received a 54% approval rating for his handling of the budget negotiations. The Republicans were given a 54% disapproval rating for their handling of negotiations.
Given that 76% of respondents said that Obama didn’t give up too much to get the deal, and 67% also believed that Republicans did not give up too much, it is safe to say that a majority of Americans view this as a fair deal.
The degree to which Speaker John Boehner saved his party from disaster can measured by the fact that 65% of those polled supported federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and 71% opposed taking funding the way from the EPA, which would have limited their ability to enforce environmental regulations. It is also turns out that Obamacare is pretty popular too, as 58% of respondents supported continued federal government provision of healthcare reform funds. The Tea Party and social conservatives were on the wrong side of every issue.
It was predictable that Obama would get the bulk of the credit for the deal. President Obama has spent his entire term building the image of reasonable president who is willing to discuss with, listen to, and negotiate Republicans. Some progressives go into hysterics about how Obama is, “selling them out,” while the right rubs their hands with glee because they view a willingness to talk as a weakness, but both extremes are wrong.
Obama’s leadership style is popular with the wide swath of the country that doesn’t occupy the devout fringes of political ideology. This group of moderates is Obama’s real political base. These are the Obama Democrats, and these are the folks who will be turning out in droves at the polls in 2012.
The House’s Tea Party caucus was leading their party into an epic political disaster. John Boehner saved his own House caucus from another attempted self-destruction. Republicans should breathe a sigh of relief and thank Boehner, but instead they are amping up a campaign to primary him.
Tea Partiers are hopeful that there are more cuts coming, but there probably won’t be. Americans don’t want more budget cuts. They want funding for healthcare reform, the EPA, and Planned Parenthood.
The age old political reality is that Americans are always in favor of cutting the deficit until it comes time to cut programs that they support. Americans want the impossible. They want to cut the budget and have their programs too. For this reason, Republicans will never be able to maintain popularity or power strictly based on the issues of the budget and the deficit.
These numbers reveal that Obama has beaten the Republicans again. The right has been trying to sell this as a great victory, but Obama won by stopping an unpopular Republican agenda in its tracks.
During these negotiations President Obama strengthened his reputation for reasonableness and bi-partisanship, and by letting themselves be defined by the Tea Party, Republicans looked like fringe extremists whose agenda is out of step with America.
Time and time again, when the two parties collide on an issue this same dynamic plays out. Obama stays above the fray. The Republicans implode and in the eyes of the public Obama gains another victory. This little dance has been going on for over two years now, and it is the same waltz that will power Obama as we head into 2012.
Obama came out of this weekend with a nice win. Consider that Obama is viewed by the Americans as someone who makes compromise happen, while at the same time, he was with them on the issues. Sure gave up some cuts, but everybody knows that the budget is too large to begin with, so the cuts around the edges aren’t a bad thing.
In politics, victories can’t be measured by the results of negotiations alone. Obama won the political game behind the government shutdown standoff. Obama won the battle of public perception. Republicans can cheer the amount of money they cut from the budget, but Obama got something more important.
In the eyes of a majority of Americans he won, and it is these kinds of victories that are going to get him reelected in 2012.