Along with a handful of people I've met, several years ago I noticed a pattern in the swinging pendulum of popularity of each party. Every few years, the party that had the most power would begin to let the power get to their head. They'd begin ignoring the swing voters that helped them get there, start pandering to their base even more, and leave an opening for the opposing party to seem more moderate in comparison. Consequently the swing vote swung the other direction, and a new party came into power.
Over the last generation these swings have gotten progressively shorter, and unless something big changes, we're about to see the fastest of them all... one that is internal to a single two year election cycle.
The most recent swing took only two election cycles. The terribly out of touch presidency of George W. Bush, and the rest of the Republican party at the time, gave Democrats the opening they'd been hoping for. They took back the legislative branch in 2006 and kept their momentum all the way through 2009, when they too began to ignore the will of the people and push for horribly unpopular things like the individual mandate part of the health care reform bill, as well as over-promising and under-delivering on the stimulus package.
The GOP rode that wave of discontent into big gains in the Senate and a takeover of the House. Instead of trying to build on those gains, from day one they began pushing an extreme partisan agenda. The most noteworthy of late is their position on the debt ceiling negotiations, where they refuse to support any deal that has any tax increases, even though earlier their demands were not so extreme, and the latest Gallup poll shows only about 20 percent of the country is with them on this.
Earlier on in the debates they said they'd agree to a deal as long as it contained cuts to entitlement programs and discretionary spending. They got those in the most recent compromise package President Obama has been pushing, and again the fringe Tea Party types within their party, who care more about ideological purity than the economic security of our country, get their way.
Just like in previous years when one of the parties began to use their power to go off the deep end, the polls are showing a major shift has occurred in just the last several months.
From Public Policy Polling:
I think Democrats' chances of retaking the House are being significantly undervalued by most experts right now. This finding, as well as one we made in Florida last week that Democrats led the generic ballot there by a 45-40 margin, reinforce our national polling which currently finds voters leaning Democratic 48-42 for the House next year. Voters are not happy with the new GOP majority and if there was an election today Democrats would at the least pick up a lot of seats, even if not enough to take back control.
The pollster professor, Larry Sabato, is more cautious in his most recent post on the subject. He does point out the major potential drag the GOP has in Paul Ryan's budget, specifically in how that may effect the older vote, who always turn out at a higher rate than other demographics and are a significant portion of the GOP base. He currently lists the GOP as having more races that are leaning their direction, but if polls keep trending the way they have been, and the GOP continues to push an extreme agenda.
It's a sad state of affairs for the GOP when the best thing they have going for them is that the American people don't trust the Democrats either. But when the leader of one side has managed to twist enough arms in his party to get them to back a compromise plan that seems fair to most, when your party sides with the "twenty percenters" on the far right, you're not setting yourself up well for electoral success.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.