As Congress returns from recess this week, we would like to believe that it will finally get down to the business of governing — but that would be too optimistic, even for us. Instead, the Republican Congress remains unprepared to address the real issues facing students, working women, and underemployed families. Most likely, the GOP’s top priority will be grinding government to a halt.
Republican leaders may believe that American voters don’t notice, or hope that their constituents will blame President Obama and the Democrats for the dysfunction in Washington. But if they do, the GOP will have severely underestimated the electorate.
Our recent battleground survey in the most vulnerable Republican districts and focus groups in two Republican-controlled states find that the GOP’s approach to “un-governing” has marginalized the party, even in red states.
Take these examples:
—In our recent battleground survey, 69 percent of voters in the most vulnerable Republican districts said that they wanted their representative to work with President Obama to address our problems. Just a quarter (26 percent) of voters in these districts would prefer that their representative try to stop the president from advancing his agenda.
—In the same survey, two of the top concerns among voters in the most vulnerable Republican-held districts were that the Republican Party is “so uncompromising that Washington is gridlocked,” and that the GOP is “only focused on blocking Obama’s agenda.”
In our focus groups, voters in Ohio and Florida were clear about their displeasure with the status quo. Here are some of the terms they used to describe the Republican Party and its leaders:
“Too concerned about fighting with the Democrats.”
And when it comes to the Republican Party’s approach to the economy, they say:
“Not willing to work together.”
“Unwilling to compromise.”
Looking to the future, Republicans are going to have a very difficult time with young people. Here is what young voters in Florida think about the GOP:
“I think they’re just so far off the path that most Americans or people who generally identify themselves as Republicans look beyond.”
“They’re just so stuck.”
“I think it also goes back again to they’re just so… they have to do the opposite of what the Democrats are doing like it doesn’t matter like what it is, like they have to fight so they have to do the opposite. So if they want this then they’re going to want this.”
“This is a prime example of Republicans fighting just to fight, in my opinion.”
Clearly, the GOP is in need of a course correction. With even red-state voters expressing frustration at the nonstop obstruction, Republicans will continue their inflexible approach at their own peril.