Poll: Majority Recognize Political Bankruptcy of Democratic and Republican Parties

Outright majorities of the American people recognize the simple fact that Democrats and Republicans do not pursue policy objectives for the good of the country, but rather do nothing more than seek political advantage to the detriment of the country.  According to a new survey from The Hill:
The latest opinion poll conducted for The Hill indicated that a majority of voters believe both parties are motivated more by their search for partisan advantage than a desire to enact good policy.
Asked whether President Obama’s party was fighting more for a political boost or for what it truly believes is wise policy, 51 percent of voters selected the former option and 36 percent the latter, a negative margin of 15 points. 

In the case of the GOP, the difference was 19 points, with just 36 percent saying the party was motivated by genuine policy concerns and 55 percent saying their animating force was the pursuit of political advantage.
A similar pattern was seen regarding culpability for Washington’s toxic political atmosphere. Forty-four percent of voters said Republicans were more to blame for hostile partisan rhetoric in the nation’s capital, while 41 percent said the responsibility lay mainly with Obama and the Democrats. 


Bret “Ginx” Alan said...

That isn't the conclusion of this poll. The results are probably just a display of how polarized the country is. It appears that 36% are fooled by Republicans and 36% are fooled by Democrats, so that leaves as little as 28% who realize that that both parties are corrupt. Of course, there are also those who may be so delusional as to think both parties are fine, so that might raise that 28% by whatever % of the population is double-clueless.

d.eris said...

You're right Bret, and I was actually thinking about that fact just a few minutes ago before I came back to look at the post again. Maybe I should have used the plural in the title as I did in the first sentence. I wish The Hill had released the full info and questionaire on the poll, but they didn't. So as you say:

36% are fooled by Democrats
36% are fooled by Republicans

You can fool some of the people all of the time.

Together, then, 72% are fooled by Democrats or Republicans.

You can fool all of these people some of the time.

But over 50% are not fooled by Republicans, and over 50% are not fooled by Democrats. The former majority likely includes Democrats and Independents, while the latter likely includes Republicans and Independents.

But you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

As for the 28% who aren't fooled by either the Republicans or Democrats? Well I guess you can't fool some of the people any of the time. We need more of those people.

TiradeFaction said...

If we could get those 28% politically active, might make a difference.

Bret “Ginx” Alan said...

I have zero optimism until campaign finance reform happens in a big way, because right now it's all about money talks, ideas walk. I think the two parties would self-correct if they weren't flat out paid to legislate and vote contrary to the wishes of their constituents.

d.eris said...

"If we could get those 28% politically active, might make a difference."

It definitely would. It seems like there are two primary polarizations that we could talk about in this context.

The first polarization is between the Dems and Reps. The kool aid drinkers in the major parties are the primary sources for the polarization between the two, but it is a subset of Independents who actually oscillate between voting for one side and the other.

The second polarization seems to be between engagement and disengagement. People become engaged, and then get turned off by the first polarization, which causes them to disengage, leading to the second.

This second polarization (i.e. between engagement and disengagement) can likely be found across the board, Dems, Reps and Indies all become disillusioned with the major parties, and therefore disengage in frustration or disgust or whatever. But the problem here seems pretty obvious: when people disengage that leaves the parties to their own devices, and they pander to those who are always engaged (i.e. lobbyists, donors, etc.).

imo, one could make a convincing argument that what I've labeled the second polarization is actually the (logically? structurally?) primary polarization within the electorate, and that it is both a symptom and cause of the first polarization between the parties. Or something.

TiradeFaction said...

Of course there's the catch 22. We won't get better candidates, and a more representative government without an exorcism or significantly reduction thereof of private funds to influence our elections. But we won't ever get that reform unless we elect said politicians to do so. Sounds like you're setting up a self defeating trap to me IMO.

The only positive way out in that scenario is that state's that allow I & R, where possibly (even though those systems also have been perverted by big money) the cycle could be broken by a dedicated, and lucky grassroots movement.

TiradeFaction said...

For clarification, I was talking to Bret.

TiradeFaction said...

"But the problem here seems pretty obvious: when people disengage that leaves the parties to their own devices, and they pander to those who are always engaged (i.e. lobbyists, donors, etc.). "

There's a good argument that's how our present situation started. For whatever reason, citizens who used to keep our institutions lively and in check, just began to drop out beginning in the later 70s and the people paid to be active (lobbyists, donors, etc.) filled in the gap. If that is true, I wonder what happened?

d.eris said...

Are you familiar with the American Poli-Sci Association's "Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System" document, TF? It was published in 1950, and provided a kind of manifesto for the two party state.

There might be some clues about your question in that document, which discusses the then-newly found influence of interest and pressure groups. It speaks specifically about labor and agricultural groups, but also mentions nascent business political alliances and such. It seems like people began to basically outsource their own political responsibilities to such groups around that time.

Here's a link to the document pdf's and a bunch of other related studies:

ljp said...

Here is an idea for a new third party based on scientific surveys:


TiradeFaction said...

Thanks for that! It looks like an interesting read.

I'm not sure we can really have a responsive two party state (at least not an responsive two party exclusive state), but the history within it looks very interesting.

Cox said...

From what I've read, the more economically well off a populance is, the less interested in politics. In the 50s, most of the (white, which was the highest voting populance since they had no institutional barriers) American populance was well to do and ironically forgot it was their participation in politics that ensured their prosperity for the decades after the 30s.

TiradeFaction said...


That's a good point, but I'd have to research more to see if there's truly a correlation between those two factors.

Still, that does have me thinking...

DLW said...

Well, being more economically well off often does tend to fill one's spare time with a variety of self-indulgent activities that preclude political deliberation and activism.


DLW said...

I've perused the "towards a better two party system" paper conclusion section.

It's somewhat convoluted, but a lot of it revolves around the need to balance intra-party democracy and intra-party discipline.

According to Eugene McCarthy in "No Fault Politics", the campaign finance reforms of 1975 subverted intra-party discipline so that decision-making got concentrated in less transparent ways.

Methinks, $peech is key to intra-party discipline for major parties, since shared ideology only works with smaller groups (like LTPs) and that it'd be easier to accept more intra-party discipline if folks had more exit threats from both major parties via minor parties and LTPs...

We gotta keep in mind that there are number of interlocking dynamics behind the decline of the US's democracy. 1. The increased aggressiveness of $peech (and its corollary of increased influence on both major parties). 2. The rise of the cultural wars wedge issues (a byproduct of civil rights legislation and the robustness of religious right's social networking and ability to make their members more likely to vote). 3. The increasing apathy/disengagement of possible voters (due to Vietnam-related malaise, cultural shifts to hyper-individualism, increased wealth, and possibly the non-sustainable nature of 60s-inspired political idealism).