The Big Disconnect

February 14, 2009 9:11 a.m.

“It’s eerie — I read the news from the Beltway, and there’s this disconnect with the polls from the Midwest that I see all around me.”

That’s from Ann Selzer, the Iowa pollster who’s an expert on public opinion throughout the midwest, as quoted by Ben Smith.

It really is the big story of the first weeks of the Obama administration. In Washington, it was a battle royale between the new president and an emboldened Republican minority. At times they seemed to have him on the ropes. And yet in the country at large, Obama remains super popular. And the GOP is wildly unpopular.

In fact, it even goes deeper than this. As Elana noted yesterday, the plan of the congressional GOP — to the degree they have one — is to faux cozy up to Obama and say that they both face a common foe in the Democratic Congress. The idea being that since “Congress” is really unpopular they can run against Congress.

But there’s a very big problem with this strategy above and beyond the absurdity of the argument. “Congress” may be really unpopular. And the Democrats now control Congress. But politics is a zero sum game. At the end of the day, in almost every case, you’ve got to pick a Republican or a Democrat when you vote. And if you look at the numbers, congressional Democrats are pretty popular. And congressional Republicans are extremely unpopular. If you look at the number, the Dems are at about 50% or higher in most recent polls, while the GOP is down in the 30s.

The city remains wired for the GOP. Not that it’s done them a great deal of good of late. But it remains a key part of understanding every part of what is happening today.

Late Update: Matt Cooper thinks I’m overstating how much DC is wired for the Republicans.

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