Conservatives are looking forward to having far more power in the next Congress and taking advantage of their big gains in the 2010 elections. No one should be fooled by their cooperation with President Barack Obama on the tax cut deal. Their agenda in 2011 will be pretty simple: attack everything progressive President Obama has done and, if possible, reverse it. In doing so, they will trumpet their imaginary mandate from the 2010 election. New data from a Washington Post/ABC News poll underscore just how imaginary that mandate is.
In the poll, respondents were asked whether they trusted President Obama or the Republicans in Congress to do a better job with the main problems facing the country. The public trusted President Obama more by a 43-38 plurality.
Obama’s margin on this question is slim, but it’s still quite a contrast to the analogous question asked after the 2006 election by the same pollsters. At that point, President George W. Bush was only trusted by 31 percent of the nation to cope with the country’s problems—far less than the 57 percent who trusted the Democrats in Congress.
Perhaps one reason President Obama has this level of trust is because he is still viewed as being on the side of the middle class. Fifty-three percent in the same survey thought President Obama could be trusted to do a better job of helping the middle class, compared to just 38 percent who trusted Republicans in Congress to do the better job.
So don’t kid yourself about that mandate, conservatives. It will neither be as easy nor as popular as you think to attack President Obama and his policies.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.