MCCLATCHY poll shows 80% of Americans angry with Washington politics – majority would vote Democrat


Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. We’re at the McClatchy newspaper offices where our studio is. And now joining us is Steve Thomma. He’s the White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. Thanks for joining us today.

STEVEN THOMMA, WHITE HOUSE CORRERSPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Thanks. Good to be here.

JAY: So in the new McClatchy-Ipsos poll, you asked people: did they think Washington was broken? And what did you find out?

THOMMA: We found an overwhelming majority, 80 percent, think that Washington and the federal government are broken, that they just cannot get past their political differences to get anything done.

JAY: Now, is there anything new about that? Like, is that particularly high compared to—?

THOMMA: That’s a higher number than we expected going in. I mean, sure, people talk about this periodically. What’s interesting is you’ve got both parties coming together—you’ve got Republicans and Democrats in the country both saying it at the same time, and they’re blaming both parties.

JAY: So what were the numbers on who to blame?

THOMMA: They blame it—it’s about 33-27, a very close split. About 33 percent of the country says yes, it’s broken, and we blame the Republicans; and 27 percent say yes, it’s broken, and we blame the Democrats. That’s really pretty close, almost within the margin of error. The rest of the poll either thinks it’s not broken or think both parties are to blame or neither party is to blame. We found about 17 percent of the country say it’s not broken. We’re not sure who those people are. Maybe they live in a different country and they’re looking in from somewhere else, because right now the dynamic in Washington is, if you are a liberal and you voted for Barack Obama and you want big things to happen in health care and changes in financial regulation, they’re very frustrated. They’re looking at Washington and saying, “My God, these people can’t do anything we elected them to do.” Meanwhile, if you’re a Republican conservative and you want different things to happen—maybe you want Social Security partly privatized, you want other big problems solved in a different way, you’ve been looking at it ever since the Bush years, saying, my God, they can’t do anything I want either. So you’ve got this perfect storm coming together where both sides are saying a pox on their houses—they can’t work; they can’t get things done.

JAY: And one area where there seems to be particular concern—you know, people from [George] Soros to [Paul] Volcker and others involved in looking at the unraveling of the system—is that nothing serious is going to get done on financial regulation, and the possibility of another crash from the finance sector seems to be just as much a threat as it ever was. So why blaming—. But when you go to the point where Republicans seem to want to say no to anything right now, why is it so evenly split? I mean, from my point of view, it would seem you would blavme the Republicans more than the Democrats.

THOMMA: Well, first of all, you blame the party in power. I mean, that—to me, I would have the opposite instinct as you. I would say, well, Democrats have the White House. Until a couple of weeks ago they had 60 votes in the Senate, and they have a solid majority in the House. A lot of people would blame the Democrats, because they couldn’t deliver, especially when they had the 60 votes.

JAY: So why can’t they? When they had 60 votes, they couldn’t get their own party on one page.

THOMMA: Well, that’ll take a book to digest all the reasons they couldn’t deliver on those big things. They delivered on some things, don’t get me wrong, in the first year, but couldn’t deliver health care, number one. Well, part of the problem is they have differences within their own coalition. I mean, it’s a big coalition, it’s a diverse coalition, and there are still some centrists and moderates in—not as many as there used to be, but there are people like Joe Lieberman and stuff in that 60 votes—now 59—and they don’t automatically go along. You have Blanche Lincoln town in Arkansas who’s got a tough reelection in a conservative state, so she was never going to go along with the more liberal members of the caucus.

JAY: So, in terms of numbers from the poll, what do you think that suggests for the coming congressional elections?

THOMMA: Well, that’s the interesting thing, because they split evenly, the country, almost evenly, on who they blame. There’s also what’s called the generic congressional question, which is: “Which party would you vote for for Congress if the election were today?” Given everything we’ve heard in the last couple of months, the election results we’ve seen in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, you’d think that it was going to be a lopsided result against the Democrats and for the Republicans. That’s not what we’re finding. By 50 to 40 people say, “I’d vote for the Democrat rather than the Republican in the fall election.” It’s not an accurate predictor of how things are going to come out in November, but it does suggest that all the sentiment may be against incumbents and not automatically just against Democrats.

JAY: So the Democrats don’t necessarily have to run for the hills.

THOMMA: Well, some do. You know, our pollster, his analysis, which I agree with, is the Democrats are still going to lose a lot of seats this November, and that is almost universally agreed to by analysts, including me. But they may not be losing in a tidal wave. It may not be 50, 60, 70 votes. That’s what this poll suggests, that there’s enough anger at Republican incumbents that’s mixed into this whole cauldron going on that maybe some Republicans would lose their seats or not be able to win open seats.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.

THOMMA: My pleasure.

JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network, coming to you again from the McClatchy offices in Washington.


Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. We’re at the McClatchy newspaper offices where our studio is. And now joining us is Steve Thomma. He’s the White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. Thanks for joining us today. STEVEN THOMMA, WHITE HOUSE CORRERSPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Thanks. Good to be here. JAY: So in the new McClatchy-Ipsos poll, you asked people: did they think Washington was broken? And what did you find out? THOMMA: We found an overwhelming majority, 80 percent, think that Washington and the federal government are broken, that they just cannot get past their political differences to get anything done. JAY: Now, is there anything new about that? Like, is that particularly high compared to—? THOMMA: That’s a higher number than we expected going in. I mean, sure, people talk about this periodically. What’s interesting is you’ve got both parties coming together—you’ve got Republicans and Democrats in the country both saying it at the same time, and they’re blaming both parties. JAY: So what were the numbers on who to blame? THOMMA: They blame it—it’s about 33-27, a very close split. About 33 percent of the country says yes, it’s broken, and we blame the Republicans; and 27 percent say yes, it’s broken, and we blame the Democrats. That’s really pretty close, almost within the margin of error. The rest of the poll either thinks it’s not broken or think both parties are to blame or neither party is to blame. We found about 17 percent of the country say it’s not broken. We’re not sure who those people are. Maybe they live in a different country and they’re looking in from somewhere else, because right now the dynamic in Washington is, if you are a liberal and you voted for Barack Obama and you want big things to happen in health care and changes in financial regulation, they’re very frustrated. They’re looking at Washington and saying, "My God, these people can’t do anything we elected them to do." Meanwhile, if you’re a Republican conservative and you want different things to happen—maybe you want Social Security partly privatized, you want other big problems solved in a different way, you’ve been looking at it ever since the Bush years, saying, my God, they can’t do anything I want either. So you’ve got this perfect storm coming together where both sides are saying a pox on their houses—they can’t work; they can’t get things done. JAY: And one area where there seems to be particular concern—you know, people from [George] Soros to [Paul] Volcker and others involved in looking at the unraveling of the system—is that nothing serious is going to get done on financial regulation, and the possibility of another crash from the finance sector seems to be just as much a threat as it ever was. So why blaming—. But when you go to the point where Republicans seem to want to say no to anything right now, why is it so evenly split? I mean, from my point of view, it would seem you would blavme the Republicans more than the Democrats. THOMMA: Well, first of all, you blame the party in power. I mean, that—to me, I would have the opposite instinct as you. I would say, well, Democrats have the White House. Until a couple of weeks ago they had 60 votes in the Senate, and they have a solid majority in the House. A lot of people would blame the Democrats, because they couldn’t deliver, especially when they had the 60 votes. JAY: So why can’t they? When they had 60 votes, they couldn’t get their own party on one page. THOMMA: Well, that’ll take a book to digest all the reasons they couldn’t deliver on those big things. They delivered on some things, don’t get me wrong, in the first year, but couldn’t deliver health care, number one. Well, part of the problem is they have differences within their own coalition. I mean, it’s a big coalition, it’s a diverse coalition, and there are still some centrists and moderates in—not as many as there used to be, but there are people like Joe Lieberman and stuff in that 60 votes—now 59—and they don’t automatically go along. You have Blanche Lincoln town in Arkansas who’s got a tough reelection in a conservative state, so she was never going to go along with the more liberal members of the caucus. JAY: So, in terms of numbers from the poll, what do you think that suggests for the coming congressional elections? THOMMA: Well, that’s the interesting thing, because they split evenly, the country, almost evenly, on who they blame. There’s also what’s called the generic congressional question, which is: "Which party would you vote for for Congress if the election were today?" Given everything we’ve heard in the last couple of months, the election results we’ve seen in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, you’d think that it was going to be a lopsided result against the Democrats and for the Republicans. That’s not what we’re finding. By 50 to 40 people say, "I’d vote for the Democrat rather than the Republican in the fall election." It’s not an accurate predictor of how things are going to come out in November, but it does suggest that all the sentiment may be against incumbents and not automatically just against Democrats. JAY: So the Democrats don’t necessarily have to run for the hills. THOMMA: Well, some do. You know, our pollster, his analysis, which I agree with, is the Democrats are still going to lose a lot of seats this November, and that is almost universally agreed to by analysts, including me. But they may not be losing in a tidal wave. It may not be 50, 60, 70 votes. That’s what this poll suggests, that there’s enough anger at Republican incumbents that’s mixed into this whole cauldron going on that maybe some Republicans would lose their seats or not be able to win open seats. JAY: Thanks very much for joining us. THOMMA: My pleasure. JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network, coming to you again from the McClatchy offices in Washington.

Steven Thomma

Steven Thomma is a White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, his second assignment since coming to Washington in 1987. He joined what was then the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau as a regional reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and became the bureau's National Political Correspondent in 1994. He was assigned to cover the White House for the first time in 1997 and was named Chief Political Correspondent in 2001. He assumed his current White House duties in November 2008.