Democratic Senate extremely out of touch with Democratic base

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Reporters recently caught Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer red-handed, on what he thought was a private conference call, instructing his Senate colleagues to call Republicans “extreme” for H.R. 1, the continuing resolution House Republicans passed that cuts $61 billion from this fiscal year’s record $1.6 trillion deficit. The usage of such charged language is not surprising in our hyper-partisan political environment, but it would make more sense in reference to the Democratic Senate’s “extreme” disconnect on this issue, not only with the public at large but also with its own base.

On March 30, Pulse Opinion Research completed a survey of 1,000 likely voters on our behalf. It found that most Democrats actually support the position of House Republicans.

Specifically, the survey found that 50% of Democrats believe the level of spending cuts in H.R. 1 is either “about right” or “not enough,” while only 30% of Democrats believe the cuts are “too much,” which is the position that Senator Schumer took. A significant 65% of the overall public is at odds with their characterization of the cuts as “extreme.”

The even better news for Republicans is that the survey indicates their support levels have even more room for growth among Democrats and the wider public.

Politicians often say that the federal government must balance its books like families across America do every evening around kitchen tables. Although this sort of common-sense statement is well received by the public, it has little benefit in shaping public opinion if kept in the abstract, so we designed a hypothetical scenario that is analogous to the federal government’s current situation. We asked respondents to imagine a family on its way to accumulating $16,000 in debt this year. Then, we asked whether cutting spending by $610 while continuing to borrow was a serious solution to the family’s overspending. Eighty-six percent of all respondents, and 79% of Democrats, said that the family’s plan was not a serious one.

The ratio of spending cuts Republicans are proposing to debt the government will accumulate this year is the same as the ratio of spending cuts to debt that the family in our hypothetical scenario is facing. Thus, if Republicans can communicate to the public the real extremity of opposing a similarly measly amount of deficit reduction for the federal government, the belief that H.R. 1’s spending cuts are “too much” will decline and the belief that they are “about right” or “too little” will rise.

The extremist Democrats will then be faced with two options: 1) to continue opposing H.R. 1 and further deteriorate their weak political standing with the public; or 2) come to the table for more significant spending cuts.

Which course they take will largely be determined by Republicans’ ability to effectively communicate with the public. Let’s pray they are up to the challenge.

Colin Hanna and Alex Cortes are respectively the President and Executive Director of Let Freedom Ring.