Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Knowing the Parties

It's tough to be a Democrat right now.

The CNN poll that asks people to rate the parties has the Dems right now at 53 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.  Not great numbers.  Truly, a bit ugly.

But what's uglier? 

The Republicans.

Same poll, worse numbers -- 36 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable.

The Dems were at 60 percent favorable in December and have been slipping, which must make GOPers happy.  Too bad the Republicans have been slipping in the minds of folks as well, down from 48 percent favorable a year or so ago.  A pox on both houses, it seems.

Do these impressions matter?

Not so much right now, unless you consider them political capital to be spent on the hot policy issue of the day (health care comes to mind), or if you see them as some guidance on the two big upcoming elections thought to be barometers of the political winds (New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races).  Otherwise they're mere numbers to watch, info to fill a blog with, or something for political junkies to argue about.

But they do get, at least a little, at what people know or think about the two major parties.  It will be bad if both parties suffer from equally dismal numbers.  Why?  Effective governing relies on a reservoir of good will, something a party (or politician) can draw down on as needed to get policies approved.  Given the fragmented nature of the news audience, especially the cult of cable television, I suspect both parties are in for a tough 2010.  We need one party to be waxing if the other is waning, if for no other reason than someone has to have the political capital to get necessary things accomplished. 

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