At least since George Stephanopolous’s question on contraception in the 2012 ABC/Yahoo!/WMUR New Hampshire GOP primary debate, Democrats have been eager to accent social issues, believing the contrast between their positions and those of their partisan rivals will show how out of touch the Republican Party is with 21st century voters, particularly in suburbs.
They want to highlight that contrast because if wavering voters cast their ballot on economic issues on their concerns about the growing size and scope of the federal government, they would overwhelmingly pull the lever for the GOP. When it comes to their support of big government, Democrats are out of touch with the American people.
And yet, they still the votes of many socially liberal Americans who favor a more limited role for the government.
These Americans, especially entrepreneurs in blue enclaves like Hollywood, well aware of the burdens of federal, state and local regulation on their enterprises tend to define the GOP not by its economic agenda (which they largely share) but by their peers’ perception of the party as a bastion of intolerant social conservatives, unwilling to welcome minorities, particularly gay men and lesbians into their ranks.
Last year, when I spoke to the gay man who had hanged Sarah Palin in effigy in the course of the 2008 presidential campaign about his 2011 bid for West Hollywood City Council, I heard him level the same kinds of complaints against a meddlesome city government that Tea Party protesters level against government at all levels. How do we get Americans, like Mito Aviles, aware of the burdens of big government, to support the GOP?
Mito is not alone. Others know that, to borrow a great man’s expression, in the present economic crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem. “When asked about the best solution to the spurring economic growth,” Ed Morrissey reported last month, “21% of likely voters said they favor an increase in government spending, while three times as many, or 64%, believe the government should cut spending.”
Doesn’t sound like a populace favorable to yet another “stimulus”.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that by a margin of 56-38, Americans preferred “smaller government with fewer services” to “larger government with more services.” That rises to nearly 60% (for smaller government) when including only the responses of registered voters.
Over at Independent Sentinel, Sara Noble teases out a detail in the poll that I had missed when I first found it (via Google), “More than three-quarters of poll respondents say they see President Obama as favoring a bigger government with more services.”
On the basic issue facing voters this election, Barack Obama, simply put, it out of touch with a majority of American voters. Only 35% favor the type of big government policies he has championed during his term in office. Mitt Romney has to make clear that he means business when it comes to cutting government spending and limiting the federal regulatory scope.
Should he do that, he convince voters made cynical about the GOP’s commitment to small government given the record of the immediate past President of the United States and the 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses.