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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Congressional Republicans could face an electoral backlash if they fail to renew Emergency Unemployment Compensation, according to a Hart Research Associates poll released Thursday.

The poll, which was conducted on behalf of the National Employment Law Project, finds that 55 percent of American voters believe Congress should maintain federal unemployment benefits. Just 34 percent believe they should cut the program.

The poll also suggests that Republicans could face serious political problems in 2014 if they block an extension of the benefits, which they fought to keep out of the budget deal that President Obama signed into law on Thursday—55 percent of respondents with a history of voting in off-year elections support an extension, while just 35 percent oppose them. Furthermore, 39 percent of those surveyed say they are less likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes to cut off unemployment benefits, while just 21 percent say such a vote would make them more likely to support their incumbent (35 percent say it will not affect their vote).

The GOP should be especially worried by the fact that its base is driving the support for an extension. Seniors — a critical demographic on which the GOP’s hold is already loosening — favor an extension by a 61 to 31 percent margin, greater than any other age group. White voters who did not attend college favor an extension 52 to 37 percent, and white women favor extending benefits 53 to 33 percent.

The Hart Research survey echoes the results of a recent Public Policy Polling poll, which also found that House Republicans could face an electoral backlash for blocking an extension.

Republicans will soon have an opportunity to engage with the issue head-on. Although the benefits will expire for 1.3 million Americans on December 28, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI) have introduced a bill that would extend them for three months. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised to bring the bill up for a vote no later than January 7, and the White House has signaled that the president will sign it if it reaches his desk.

If Republicans block the extension in the Senate or, more likely, in the House of Representatives, then they will hand Democrats a golden political opportunity. Given that Democrats are already telegraphing their plans to make inequality a central theme of their 2014 pitch, Republicans could come to regret living up to the caricature of a party that only cares for the rich.

More importantly, refusing to extend unemployment benefits would cast a blow against the tepid economic recovery. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, failing to extend unemployment benefits could cost 240,000 jobs in 2014, while reducing GDP by 0.2 to 0.4 percent.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Mark Forsyth

    The gop has provided us ample evidence of their willingness to sacrifice the welfare of the Republic in order to achieve political objectives.May they continue to self destruct without harming the rest of America too much.

  • howa4x

    This is not the only issue that republicans will feel the heat on. Their continued opposition to same sex marriage, their refusal to acknowledge climate change, their refusal to enact sensible background checks on gun sales, the House’s refusal to take up immigration reform, their obsession with the ACA while offering no alternative, the cutting of the Food stamp program directly affecting children and red states outright denial of health care access to millions of Americans. Add to this the refusal to ask the wealthiest to pay a dime more, their continued assault on the environment and not the icing on the stale cake, ending unemployment benefits in a struggling economy. The last will hurt them the most since there are a lot of 50 yr old republicans who have been laid off and can’t find work. They seem to be following a small group of wealthy republicans like Limbaugh over the cliff.

  • Allan Richardson

    The Republicans cast a similar spell over Americans in the 1920s, and it took the sudden onset, and great depth, of the Great Depression to break the spell. And in those days, the electronic media did not have the influence it does today.

    Still, there is hope that with enough volunteering, and savvy stewardship by candidates and Democratic organizations of the meager donations that we non-millionaires can afford to give, we can get the message across: the poor, the alien, the nonconformist in personal habits, the minority person, etc. are NOT your enemy; they are NOT the ones who are stealing your income, your savings, your freedom, and your taxes. The evil persons with money are doing all these things (they control your wages and the prices of the necessities of life, the banks who drain your accounts and keep the bailout money intended to help you, are trying to continue restricting your health care access, and waste your tax money on Pentagon waste and oil subsidies), and THEY ARE YOUR REAL ENEMIES, despite what you hear on Faux Nooz. The so-called “socialists” are trying to protect YOU from THEM, which is why THEY oppose progressive reforms.

    This poll, we hope, is an early sign that the truth is starting to sink in.

  • Siegfried Heydrich

    To which the GOP replies, ‘you say this like it’s a bad thing’. They don’t care about ‘America’. They care about their base. And if their base expressed a desire to outlaw all sex positions other than missionary, they would take up that noble cause. Whether it harms their party is immaterial. It’s what benefits them.

    • imabrummie

      I don’t understand how they figure that the destruction of their fellow man (and woman) somehow benefits them. They should remember the old saying that “there but for the grace of God go I”!!!

  • Lynda Groom

    The vast majority of the American people want something done to help those long-term unemployed. All the more reason for our lovely Congress to do nothing. Toss the bums out next November and elect people in tune with the nation….if you can find them.

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  • George Allegro

    Considering plunder’s ease, liberty has little chance of surviving if the mere existence of democratic processes is expected to preserve it.