A new CNN poll includes plenty of results one might expect at this point: President Obama’s approval rating looks steady at 52%; the public strongly prefers the president to congressional Republicans when it comes to the major issues of the day; most Americans want to see GOP officials compromise in the fiscal talks, etc.
But there was another tidbit that stood out for me.
Two years ago, shortly before the 2010 midterms, the poll asked respondents whether the parties were “too extreme” or “generally mainstream.” At the time, Republicans enjoyed a noticeable edge — 42% of respondents said Democrats are too extreme, while only 36% said the same thing about the GOP.
Now, the numbers have flipped — most Americans (57%) believe Democrats are mainstream, while a majority (53%) also sees Republicans as too extreme. This is the first time a CNN poll found most Americans considering either party too extreme.
It’s one thing for voters to think you’re wrong; it’s worse when they think you’re radical.
That has to be discouraging for GOP leaders, who just spent a year trying to put their best foot forward during the election season. Of course, these figures may get worse if/when the fiscal talks collapse due to Republican intransigence, and GOP leaders threaten to crash the economy on purpose in the new year during another debt-ceiling crisis.