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Civitas poll finds an overwhelming dissatisfaction with state government and both parties

July 23, 2013
Abe Lincoln is reported to have said that "you can fool all of the people some ot the time and some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." We have a different take on that. We believe it more accurate to say: "some of the people are fooled all of the time. Some none of the time, and a large group moves back and forth." It is that segment that moves that controls things.

These days we thing that swing segment is disgusted. They are sick and tired of "business as usual" in the way their government operates. That's why so many of them don't bother to vote.

Political campaigns in recent years have been mostly foolishness in which each candidate/party tries to convince the voters that the other side will just give us more of the same but they will give us more of whatever it is they think we want.

A lot of the swing voters see the choice between the lesser of two evils. So they either don't vote or they vote against the greater of the perceived evils. Then, when the crew to put in do pretty much the same as the crew they threw out, they rightly conclude that "they're all pretty much the same" and nothing I do (how I vote) matters much.

And it recent years they have been pretty much right on target with this conclusion.

Take the N. C. General Assembly, and quickly coming into focus—the Governorship of our Great State. Not much has changed for the swing segment.

Civitas is out with a new poll. In spite of the spin that their reporter, Jim Tynen, puts on it, a majority of respondents don't have a high opinion of anybody in government. The Governor gets only a 37% favorable rating, balanced against a 30% unfavorable with one in five votes "neutral."

The current GOP led General Assembly does even more poorly. Only 25% have a favorable opinion of the "new leadership" while 39% have an unfavorable. But Democrats don't do any better.

The attitude toward what voters see in Washington is much the same. Even with a large segment of those who are fooled all of the time by Barack Obama, there are not enough to push him over the majority point in favorability. And Congress is so low it's off the chart—both parties.

We are intrigued with why Civitas ran their "favorability" poll on the new Governor and GOP General Assembly a week before the session ended. We have our ideas, but that's another story. Suffice it to say now that these numbers don't look good for Republicans. In fact they are horrendous. It's not the unfavorable ratings, but rather the large segment that says they are "neutral." That's the swing element that rules the outcome of elections. And they are not satisfied with what they've seen from Republicans in Raleigh. We'll bet that most of them voted Republican in the last election.

We've said it before but it bears repeating here again. Pat McCrory did not get elected by offering himself as a better choice than the other guy (what was his name?) Republicans did not get elected to Senate and House seats, for the most part, by offering themselves as a better choice. They got elected because the swing segment voted against the bunch that had been running things. But more precisely, we would contend voters did not vote against incumbents so much as they voted a general dissatisfaction with government. That dissatisfaction is still there, and if anything it has grown since November 2012.

Ponder those numbers. Everybody is below 40% approval. That means 2/3 of the voters are disenchanted with the way government operates. We predict that when the dust settles on this legislative session that the dissatisfaction will even grow wider and stronger. The GOP will take a beating on education. Tenure is not a burning issue for most parents. They like their teacher. And too few will benefit from the "Opportunity Scholarships." The mantra from the Democrats will be that "Republicans hurt education." But the disenchantment will intensify for reasons other than specific issues.

There are two (at least) reasons for this. The first is that most people will not experience much of a difference in their lives from what the Legislature has done. There has been no transformation of government in North Carolina. What we have gotten is tinkering around the edges. Just look at the much touted "tax reform." And the GOP budget continues the growth in government spending. That's not what that swing segment wants. But for the "swingers" the thing that will resonate with them is that the Republicans did not do any better with reclaiming our government from the special interests any better than the Democrats did.

The irony of that failure to curtail "government by the few, for the few" is that special interests don't move. Those who have an unfavorable view of cutting their sacred cows don't shift to a favorable view because they didn't get cut as much as they feared. And if they got cut out completely they are still unfavorable. That segment does not shift. The same is true of those who "won" the special interest game. They don't change their favorability ratings.

But the swing segment feels betrayed that the special interests still dominate even after they voted for a new crew who said they would be different. Only the names and faces changed. The System remains unchanged. And that is exactly what the swing segment wanted changed—the way government does business.

The second reason the dissatisfaction will grow stronger and wider is the media. No, we're not talking about the Elite Media. While they will excoriate the GOP leadership, that will not make much difference with the swing segment. The Elites are waning. And they are falling faster and faster. How they reported the Moral Monday demonstrations, as in how the national Elites reported the Zimmerman case, blew what credibility they still had.

For the GOP the "media problem" is the GOP leadership. There are two facets to their problem. First, they are not offering a message that resonates with the swing segment. They foolishly believe issuing press releases is effective communication. If you doubt that, just ask a half dozen of your friends: "what is Pat McCrory trying to do as governor?" Enough said.

And the state GOP is even worse. They have no message, except a flimsy "Little Jack Horner" potpourri of platitudes.

The state GOP and the legislative and administration's communication systems have totally flopped in dealing with the "alternative media," including the social networks. Not only is there no synchronized message being pushed but even worse is the fact that they don't seem to know how to target the message. Contrast what you don't see coming from Raleigh these days to how Barack Obama used targeted messaging to focus the content and effect of their communications to the specific voters or potential voters. We see none of that coming out of Raleigh these days.

And the GOP has totally ignored the fastest growing, and we suspect the strongest, communication system that impacts their potential voters—the conservative blogosphere and media outlets such as this one, the Daily Haymaker, Beaufort County Now and a multitude of others, including conservative radio.

The supreme irony in the GOP's communications program is that the most potent block of swing voters—the TEA Party people—not only is not effectively engaged by the GOP but is in fact being more and more alienated as time goes by.

Thus, the essence of all this is that one is hard-pressed to find any rational basis for believing that the results Civitas found in its poll will change any time soon, if at all. For that large segment of swing voters who are fed up with "business as usual" in government the prospects of a real change are not looking very good right now.

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