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August 16, 2011 05:00 PM UTC

The Danger of Digging In

  • by: c rork

The debt negotiations were not kind to the approval ratings of Republicans in Congress. The debate over how to cut the debt further may reinforce the opinions the public have formed. From Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight:

There has been various circumstantial evidence that the public’s dissatisfaction with the performance of Congress, particularly during the debt ceiling debate, could threaten the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Disapproval ratings for the Congress are at record highs, as are disapproval ratings for the Republican Party. Other polls show record numbers of Americans saying that their representative should not be re-elected, that most members of Congress should not be re-elected, or both.

What we haven’t had, however, are polls comparing Democrats against Republicans in a direct way. That’s why the poll that Gallup published Friday ought to concern Republicans. It shows a 7-point Democratic advantage on the generic Congressional ballot – meaning simply that more Americans told Gallup they plan to vote for a Democrat for Congress next year. Although the generic ballot is a crude measure, it is probably the best macro-level indicator of the direction that the House is headed in.

Last year, Republicans won the popular vote for the U.S. House – essentially what the generic ballot is trying to measure – by 7 percentage points. So a poll showing Democrats 7 points ahead instead is a pretty significant swing.

There is a major battle looming that will create major trouble for the Republican Party on a generic ballot and their bid against President Obama. Bipartisan bargaining is set to take place over the “super committee” and a hypothetical $1.6 trillion deal to reduce the debt. All of the potential Republican nominees for president have said they would not accept a debt deal that raises taxes, even if the cuts-to-tax ratio was 10-1. Rep. Ryan has forewarned his party that they should “dig in” and stand strong against any tax increases in the supercommittee. This contrasts sharply with the American people who in 23 separate polls, by no less than a 20 point margin, want some sort of tax increases included in a bipartisan deal.

The intransigence of Republican leadership in accepting any sort of compromise will likely lead to the same sort of losses in public opinion polling the GOP experienced during the debt deal debacle, further speculation from credit rating agencies and an inevitable sharp dive in the stock market. The danger for them is furthering the notion that President Obama is with the middle of the country, just trying to forge a bipartisan compromise. It is really a matter of how much the Republican party feels like pandering to their base at the expense of losing the hearts of the rest of the American public. At this point, I would advise against digging in.


15 thoughts on “The Danger of Digging In

  1. Dems from Obama on down have been so afraid to push back on the foolish notion that, at this point, debt is our greatest problem and that, somehow, draconian cuts will create jobs and improve the economy.

    Obama and Reid never would have found themselves in the position of giving in to GO(T)P extortion if Dem leadership, from the very beginning of this administration though the present, had been pushing the reality message rather than banging their heads against the wall trying to get Rs to play nice when, of course, it wasn’t in R political interest to do anything but toss red meat to the base and make sure things got bad as possible.

    If the public wakes up in time, as these polls are beginning to indicate might be the case, it won’t be thanks to the likes of Obama or Harry Reid. Oh, and I just saw a heading in Politico or Huff post, I forget, about how Obama isn’t obsessed with keeping the job.  Didn’t bother to read it. The idea that, after all the effort expended since 2004 to end GOP hegemony, Obama might not be “obsessed” enough to fight hard enough to keep the job,  leaving us at the mercy of a GO(T)P President just in time for Bader-Ginsberg and swing vote Kennedy to possibly both retire and allow that president to create an iron clad decades long majority of activist ultra-corporatists and extremist Christian social conservatives on the Supreme Court?  Too depressing.  

      1. That’s why I’m hoping he manages to get a little more obsessed.  It’s not like we have any other viable options for keeping a Republican out of the WH and the Supreme Court from tipping over the point of no return. As I said, I didn’t read it so it could just be some “insider” mouthing off but if it becomes part of the general media noise, Obama better take care that everyone knows he plans to fight like hell to keep the WH. Otherwise, a lot of Dems will be asking themselves, why bother?

          1. Obama is a given.  Anything else is a pipe dream, not that HRC would be mine. Let’s look at her past performance as a leader.  Leader of healthcare reform under Bill?  She was a disaster.  Buck stops here leader of her own presidential campaign?  Again, a disaster.  

            She did a decent job during her short time as a legislator but was just as guilty of political cowardice, going along with the Iraq madness, as any other Dem pol afraid of looking soft.

            The Clintons are both every bit as centrist and corporate friendly as Obama, if not more so. They pretty much invented DLC, GOP-lite triangulating. She’s doing a good job as a loyal team member at SOS but there, she’s carrying out, not setting policy.  

            I have no regrets about not supporting her for President and no particular reason to imagine that we would have had a golden progressive era with her at the helm.  

    1. Many counted him out of the primary, saying he didn’t have the drive or didn’t want it enough to win it. After watching some of the speeches he has been making on this three day bus non-campaign-campaign trip, he seems very fired up.

      Maybe because he isn’t rushing to the extreme left, or saying ridiculous outrageous things he isn’t getting press coverage the way the right-wingers are and therefore doesn’t seem as “obsessed”.

      1. he’s so far from rushing to the far left and most dissatisfied Dems are so far from demanding anything close to that, it’s a totally straw man argument.

        1. I was attempting (probably poorly) to say that because he isn’t being a ridiculous extremist, the media isn’t giving him as much coverage as a Bachmann or Perry.

  2. Finally, a billionaire with integrity, credibility and sincerity tells it like it is.  

    In an interview with Charlie Rose last night, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett called the 2012 Republican contenders “pathetic” over their opposition to raising taxes

      1. “We suck less” isn’t a winning campaign slogan.

        However with help from Michelle “Happy Birthday Elvis” and Rick “Saving the economy is treason” Perry, the GOP appears to be pulling away in the “Race to Suck the Most”.

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