Survey Says: Republicans Out of Touch with Americans, Swing Voters

6-28-06, 9:20 am

On the heels of a disingenuous Republican effort to block a Democratic plan calling for withdrawal from Iraq, a USA Today poll released yesterday showed that a majority of Americans support the Democratic proposal or one like it.

According to the survey 57 percent of Americans want Congress to provide a plan for ending the occupation of Iraq and withdrawing US troops. Most of them say do it within 12 months.

Only about 3 in 10 believe George W. Bush's vague talk about 'standing down when the Iraqis stand up' constitutes a clear plan for handling the war.

The results of a poll of 'swing voters' released this week commissioned by the public advocacy group USAction and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research indicates much broader discontent with the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration's handling of issues of deep concern to most Americans.

According to this survey of likely voters, 73 percent of swing voters view things as having 'gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track.' Only one-third described the state of the economy as 'excellent' or 'good.'

More than 80 percent expressed serious concern with the federal budget deficit, and 74 percent accused the Republican-controlled federal government of putting the needs of the wealthy and of corporations ahead of average working families and the underprivileged.

Only 29 percent of the survey's respondents approved of George W. Bush's handling of his job as president. Sixty-six percent expressed disapproval.

When it came to the issue of increasing government investments in education, health care, and technologies that would aid our energy independence, swing voters overwhelmingly said they would support congressional candidates who promised to do so. According to the poll, more than three-quarters of swing voters wanted more investment in public education programs such as school improvements, Head Start, and college aid.

More than 6 out of 10 swing voters also said they would support candidates who fight the culture of corruption in Washington. More than 70 percent said they would support candidates who would reverse huge Republican tax cuts for the rich and the trend of paying for those tax giveaways by gutting health care programs and spending on public education.

More than 60 percent of swing voters view current spending on the war in Iraq as a wrong priority and would rather see that money spent on social programs like public education, health care, and advances in technology. Large majorities also said they would support candidates who would roll back tax cuts for large corporations and the very rich in order to help pay for these investments.

About 7 in 10 swing voters view the Republican-controlled federal government as too intrusive in their personal lives.

Only four percent of the respondents in the USAction poll identified strongly with either major political party, about 13 percent identified 'weakly' with either of the two major parties, and 80 percent described themselves as independent voters. More than 9 in 10 voted in the 2002 mid-term congressional elections, and 99 percent voted in the 2004 presidential election.

The results of these polls are clear. Republicans are simply out of step with what the people want. Most Americans generally reject the Republican Party's nonsense about troop withdrawal as 'cut and run.' They want Congress to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

The poll of swing voters turns the tables on pundits who view independent voters as leaning toward the right. In real life, independent voters, like most Americans. are tired of Republican policies.

Clearly, they view the Bush administration's war in Iraq as wrong and would rather see the money currently being spent on the war invested in social programs and used to reduce the deficit. Swing voters seem to believe the Republicans aren't doing anything about the culture of corruption that has become identified with their party as attested to by the Abramoff scandal, the indictment of Tom DeLay, and the host of Republicans indicted and convicted on charges ranging from bribery and influence peddling to fraud, embezzling, and perjury.

Swing voters are saying that under Republican Party control, the government has become a government of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. They have given huge subsidies to wealthy corporations and tax cuts to the richest individuals, while gutting public programs such as Medicare, public education, and college aid.

In addition to these policies, Republicans have used their control of the federal government to increase its power and intrusiveness on the private lives of Americans with domestic spying programs and Constitutional amendments on marriage. While literally giving away billions of taxpayer money to oil companies, Republicans have blocked, hampered, and harassed sound alternative energy policies that would increase energy independence and help turn the tide against climate change.

The results of the USAction survey suggest that swing voters more closely identify with policies that Democratic candidates for Congress are more likely to support. If they want to win on November 7th, Democratic candidates should be emboldened, the survey's results suggest, to vow to end the occupation of Iraq, dismantle the Republican culture of corruption, and invest in our public schools, affordable health care, and a sound alternative energy policy.

These results also suggest that voters are tired of Republican-lite candidates who feel they have to lean to the right in order to win swing votes. Swing voters want candidates who will take a stand for their interests.

--Joel Wendland can be reached at