Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

Is Cruz Causing a Democratic Wave? Maybe, but Don’t Jump the Gun

cruz101113 445x296 Is Cruz Causing a Democratic Wave? Maybe, but Dont Jump the Gun

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Last week I observed that I hadn’t yet seen “compelling evidence” that a Democratic political wave could be developing. I can no longer say that after seeing the recently released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

That highly regarded poll showed Republican numbers have taken a considerable hit because of the shutdown and the media coverage around it. The GOP’s 24 percent positive/53 percent negative image obviously is a red flag, especially compared with image numbers for the Democratic Party (39 percent positive/40 percent negative) and President Barack Obama (47 percent positive/41 percent negative).

The NBC/WSJ poll’s version of the generic ballot, which asks respondents about their “preference for the outcome of next year’s congressional elections,” shows a substantial shift from an insignificant 3-point Democratic edge (46 percent to 43 percent) to an 8-point Democratic advantage (47 percent to 39 percent).

Respondents split evenly in June on the role of the government, with 48 percent saying that government “should do more to solve problems” and 48 percent saying that government “is doing too many things.”  That has also changed, with 52 percent now saying that government should do more and only 44 percent saying that it is doing too much.

I haven’t mentioned the poll’s shutdown “blame” question because I have serious concerns about its wording.

Because the question gives respondents a choice between blaming “President Obama” and “Republicans in Congress,” the terrible GOP numbers may well reflect Congress’ poor standing rather than merely the party’s.

I’d like to see “and Democrats in Congress” added to the question before jumping to conclusions about the extent to which voters blame the Republicans, though it is clear from a variety of polls that more Americans blame the GOP than the Democrats.

Still, taken together, the poll shows significant deterioration in support for Republicans and in the party’s brand. It also shows opportunities for the president and his party.

And if this were October 2014, or even April 2014, I expect that other surveys, at the national, state and district levels, would show the same thing. Everyone who watches House races closely would be talking about a Democratic wave that certainly could hand the House over to a Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the final two years of Barack Obama’s second term. Certainly I would.

But the caution I offered in my last column still holds: Surveys conducted in the middle of a major event may have “a very short shelf life.” After the current confrontation ends, voters could easily return to their default partisan positions — or the shutdown and debt ceiling showdown could have created a new partisan baseline from which the GOP can never recover.

I understand that everyone wants to be the first to proclaim some new political normal, but that’s simply not how I approach handicapping. I need to see whether the fundamentals have changed, and if so, what that means.

So what am I looking for?

First, I’d like to see what the major media national polls are showing at least a couple of weeks after things have returned to normal. In particular, I’ll be very interested in what the NBC/WSJ polls show one month and then two months after things settle down.

I’ll want to see if the generic ballot, which can be influenced by events, starts to return to its pre-shutdown position, or if it has recalibrated. Obviously, I also want to see where the two parties’ image numbers stand.

Second, I want to see what district-level surveys are showing and compare them with what similar surveys showed during the past few cycles. The polls I’ll be paying the most attention to (which may not be conducted for weeks or months) are those taken for the parties and candidates by respected partisan pollsters — polls not intended to help fundraising or recruit certain candidates, but designed to gather strategic information for campaigns.

Because the holidays are often an odd period in politics, I expect the most important poll numbers to start appearing after the first of the year, making mid-January an important time to assess the state of the parties and the inclinations of the electorate.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Syria seemed to be a defining event for the president, raising questions about his leadership. Now, everyone has forgotten about that crisis and moved on to a different fight. That could happen again.

One thing that now appears incontestable is that GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has damaged his party badly in the short term, making the GOP look extreme, confused, unreasonable and unappealing. If you have been a regular reader of this column, that shouldn’t surprise you.

In June 2012, leading up to the Texas GOP Senate primary between Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, I wrote about my interviews with both candidates:

The difference between the two men is simple: Cruz is not willing to compromise even if it means being irrelevant to the legislative process, while Dewhurst is willing to look for middle ground. …

Indeed, given his worldview and personal style, I’d expect Cruz to become a significant voice for conservative purists who believe their party has been too willing to give up on principle.

If elected, Cruz certainly will join the GOP’s “Uncompromising Caucus,” which includes DeMint, Lee, Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a handful of others, making it more difficult for his party’s leadership and for the Senate to deal with the nation’s problems.

That assessment of Cruz has been borne out by recent events. We’ll need to wait at least a few more months to see whether he has done enough to make Pelosi speaker once again.

  • Mojojojo

    True to form, no Rothenberg apology for slandering PPP’s poll on the exact same subject with very similar results in his last article (“PPP/MoveOn.org polls are of little value”). Although PPP is a perennial top 3 pollster, they are liberal, which to Stu’s provincial sense is enough to indict the poll with no further evidence.

    • ID-2

      So Nate Silver must be biased to the right as well since he called out PPP.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/09/11/nate-silver-vs-public-policy-polling/

      • Mojojojo

        I didn’t say it’s wrong or biased to call out PPP, so no.

        • ID-2

          You said Rothenburg slandered PPP. I generally assume it is bad to slander a person or entity so obviously you have an issue with Rothenburg.

          • Mojojojo

            Slander is by definition a false and damaging statement, implying a lack of evidence, which is exactly what Roth did, and exactly what Silver didn’t. There’s no comparison.

            Poorly reasoned argument, waste of time. Mojo out.

          • richardshort2001

            This conversation is a perfect reflection of rational vs. Republican thought. Far too often Republicans are locked in a good guy/bad guy thought process. You said Roth did something bad so you think he’s a bad guy, so therefore you must think Silver is a bad guy too cause he did something similar. HA HA I BEAT YOU!

            No you didn’t. You’ve just shown your inability to understand the slightest nuance.

  • Montesquieu

    I think we can all agree that Paul Krugman is a menace to mankind.

    • Gentil Aquitaine

      O? How so?

      • Montesquieu

        He’s consistently wrong about important matters of political economy.

        • Gentil Aquitaine

          So that is a menace to mankind? That would make Uncle Milty Friedman tantamount to Satan. His doctrine has been responsible for more misery in the world than the Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein combined.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            Since Obama has been president, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.

            Reference: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-21/33-shocking-facts-which-show-how-badly-economy-has-tanked-under-obama

          • Fukk the Eagles

            Since you’re so worried about jobs, can you name any jobs bills that your House of Representatives have passed? Oh wait, I forgot, they haven’t passed ANY! The only jobs bills that were passed were from the DEMOCRATS because they care about people. Your party is too busy whacking off about Obamacare and social issues.

  • Areader

    Ted Cruz….The stupidest mother f*ucker in Washington!

    • Gentil Aquitaine

      No, that would be Louie Gohmert. Me, I am not prepared to challenge Cruz’s intelligence. It is his morality and his ethical compass that are the question. On these points, he may well be on a level with narco-traffickers and cannibals in the Congo.

      • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

        In this YouTube video, we find another communistic liberal democrat attacking Christians while waging ideological warfare against the Bill of Rights: http://youtu.be/1WcM3P-Gmh8?t=28s

        • Gentil Aquitaine

          PCP + Tea Party Talking Points makes for a hale storm non sequiturs…

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            I think we can all agree that fear mongering is the primary tactic of today’s liberals and democrats: http://youtu.be/L9rTP6-57HE?t=16s

          • ThisIsNot4U2

            Yea because we (dems/ibs) are the ones hugging our guns and building our bunkers and “prepping” for doomsday.. …GIVE ME AN F’ING BREAK!!!

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            Well, if Floyd Corkins, Chris Dorner, Ed Schultz, John Muhammed, Hussein Obama, Lee Boyd Malvo, Demetrius Glenn, Lakim Faust, Allan Brauer, John Van Allen, Michael Davis, and Aaron Alexis are any indication, today’s liberals are becoming increasingly unhinged, violent, and aggressive.

          • ThisIsNot4U2

            “Googling” a few crazies does NOT make your case. Especially when YOUR party has hundreds of thousands of CRAZIES hellbent on DESTROYING America.

        • Fukk the Eagles

          Um, no, again you are incorrect. And if you don’t like our country, you can always move somewhere else.

    • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

      Here we find yet another democrat reprobate. This one happens to be a pedophile : http://collegeinsurrection.com/2013/09/head-of-u-texas-young-democrats-is-convicted-child-sex-offender/

      • Fukk the Eagles

        You are too funny. Hey do you remember Mark Foley at all?

    • ThisIsNot4U2

      IKR! I mean…He NEVER ceases to amaze me. Every time he says something STUPID, I’m like “okay…there’s NO way he could top this”…And he DOES! ;-)))))

  • vetvoter

    Because Cruz is not really a Republican. He is a John Bircher. Americans turned away from that ugly philosophy long ago but Cruz is trying to resurrect it. His main support came from the Koch Brothers (who’s father was one of the 5 founding members of the John Birth Society).

    Ultimately, America will again reject his brand of hate.

    • ID-2

      Oh yes, the Koch Brothers. They are to the left what George Soros is to the right.

      • Mojojojo

        Except the money the Kochs dump on politics dwarf Soros’s by a degree of magnitude lol. They are not at all similar, that is wrong.

        • ID-2

          I forgot. The Koch brothers do not support the nanny state. Definitely different from Soros indeed.

      • Matt

        No, that’s a false equivalency. Soros did not generate astroturf groups that resulted in a government shutdown.

      • Fukk the Eagles

        Um no you are quite wrong. George Soros is not a liberal. He supported Reagan. He has turned to the Democrats because your party has gone so hard to the right. Modern-day Democrat = Moderate Reaganite.

    • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

      Well, if Floyd Corkins, Chris Dorner, Ed Schultz, John Muhammed, Hussein Obama, Lee Boyd Malvo, Demetrius Glenn, Lakim Faust, Allan Brauer, John Van Allen, Michael Davis, and Aaron Alexis are any indication, today’s liberals are becoming increasingly unhinged, violent, and aggressive.

      • easton

        boring.

      • Fukk the Eagles

        Um no you are quite incorrect. Name one liberal who has ever advocated violence. Unlike you crazy people on the right like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin who talk about “revolution” “taking up arms” and all that.

  • danaellen

    Mark Levin said the WSJ was false as it polled mostly Dems and Federal workers. As for Cruz he is one of the few who is doing what he promised Texas he would do. He is leading the charge for we the people. The premise of this article is a good example of liberal bias.

    • Jesse4

      Is that what the kooky nut-job said?

    • sugarW

      You seem to forget (like most baggers do) that “we the people” elected Obama as President.

      So, in conclusion, please grow a brain.

      • danaellen

        We the people elected the House of Representatives as well. We the people should be outraged when the president ignores and violates he constitution. I bet you don’t care that four men died in Benghazi because of an incompetent commander in chief.

        • ihawk

          No. The majority of people who voted for a representative in the last election voted for a Democrat. The only reason the Republicans continue to control the house is because of gerrymandering.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            Today’s liberalism might as well be communism without the manifesto.

          • richardshort2001

            Responding to a verifiable fact with an ad hom attack. That’s why you will ultimately lose. Eventually people do see through that nonsense.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            In this video we find a little more background on liberal domestic terrorist Floyd Corkins: http://youtu.be/WOBMLahUszQ?t=29s

          • Fukk the Eagles

            Where is the communism? If we had communism, then all the streets would look the same, and income inequality would not exist. You crazy people crack me up. Income inequality is rising. Schools in poor neighborhoods don’t look the same as schools in rich neighborhoods.

            That’s not communism. That’s capitalism. You’re just too dumb to realize it, I’m afraid.

        • ThisIsNot4U2

          You baggers kill me. You keep throwing up “Benghazi” every time you want to divert from this issue. Yet THOUSANDS of our young military people were KILLED because of a FAKE war started by Bush and Cheney. Why do you and your ILK manage to forget that????

      • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

        Fear mongering is the primary tactic of today’s liberals and democrats: http://youtu.be/L9rTP6-57HE?t=16s

    • Fukk the Eagles

      OMG, if you believe that gargabe, you deserve the destroyed country you have made for yourself.

  • ID-2

    Rothenburg knows polls but I am not so sure he understands political coalitions. Most Republicans want the party to go more upscale, as in move to the middle and go with a Christie based politics for 2014 and 2016. Cruz, however, believes the GOP can form a winning coalition with the Tea Party and the millions of whites who did not vote in 2012. I do not know if it will work, but it could.

  • giatny

    Taking stands that can not be won defeats any chance of progress. Asking
    to defund ACA was so absurd that Obama won the pr war even before Cutter,
    Plouffe and Axelrod had to spin. ACA was imploding on its own, but now
    Obama can blame the GOP for that and any decline in the economy.
    Stupid never wins, Cruz is done. But sadly so is the entire party and the
    country. Defeating immigration will be the last chance to save America.
    Illegals, Muslims, gays and atheists are the only groups supported by
    the government.

  • ApplePie101

    The longer the shutdown continues, the better for the nation. In fact, shut down more of the 83% so-called ‘essential’ agencies. Washington DC should experience some of the economic pain the rest of the country is experiencing.

    • Matt

      Yeah, it’s not like government spending is part of GDP or anything. Contractionary policy is contractionary.

    • Fukk the Eagles

      Then why is it that the Congress people still get paid during the shutdown?

  • YeahBut

    Cruz actually made me jump the democrat ship and I will now support him.

    • Fukk the Eagles

      Nice try, but epic fail. Your party is dying. And you know it.

    • Jesse4

      He’s going to need all the support he can get now.
      That guy might as well wear a big red nose and white face at this point.

  • Amberteka

    I am lost. The WAsh. Post..WSJ poll that said that 70% were taking it out on the GOP also said that 61% felt the same about the Dems. And 59% blamed the Prez. Did he read another poll? Gallop and PPP had the President’s approval at 37%.
    Do you remember when the approval rate for the GOP was 22%? Right after the 2012 Hispanic EFfort Outreach..and losing the election? Well, thanks to Curz it is up to 29% .
    Do you believe these polls? The MSM..The AP..write such slanted, biased articles is it stupid to think that theira polls are honest?
    The Poll this guy is babbling about..The NBC..WSJ which “brought the GOp to their knees” WHEN you read the Stats and Rush did..
    800 people polled. there was twice as many democrats in the poll as in the national average. There were twice as many Federal Employees (almost always Democrats) as in the national average. it is stunning that the GOP got 29%.
    Cruz….is the USA running out own business. Not more Wars to defend other nation’s borders when ours is an international bad joke. Cruz is a USA First Guy..not an Israel Firster. No offense to Israel. but they are not us. And we don’t owe them the blood of any more of our kids. Period.

  • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

    Like marxism, the “big idea” of today’s liberalism is the notion that a self-proclaimed group of the uber-enlightened are somehow magically entitled to consciously direct the future of mankind.

  • Thomas Aquinas

    In a related YouTube video we find liberal communistic democrat Bernie Sanders praising the anarchists of the “Occupy” domestic insurrection: http://youtu.be/gp0Or4KiGk8

  • arikira

    Interesting that Mr. Rothenberg would also like House Democrats added to the blame poll. I mean, they are clearly the minority party, so how could they possibly be to blame for not allowing clean bills to come to the floor? It is, therefore, simply a silly question and a waste of poll respondents time. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to blame only one party for this this impasse — the party that is conducting the high-stakes hostage taking of the American economy in order to (ironically) pass legislation that will ultimately be detrimental to the very economy they claim to be trying to save. Mr. Rothenberg, you are either woefully ignorant, or you think WaPo’s readers are ignorant enough to pass off your ridiculous lies and get away with it. Either way, you clearly don’t deserve this blog.

  • WeCometoThis

    Was Cruz family Border Jumpers? This isn’t another Mexican Revolution taking place here. If it is , shut it down.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    I think we can all agree that today’s liberalism is a foreign ideology that has a great deal in common with its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors.

    • Gentil Aquitaine

      Liberalism—if by that you mean the bourgeois activism of the GWL (Guilty White Liberal)—is a persecuted step-child of the capitalist enterprise. There is no actor more despised in Marxist circles than the GWL. That latter is the only thing standing between capitalism and its imminent collapse.

      • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

        In related news, another liberal democrat reprobate has been arrested on child pornography charges: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/man-featured-time-arrested-child-porn-charges-article-1.1460665

        • Gentil Aquitaine

          So how is this person’s perversion relevant to the ideology of the Guilty White Liberal? Does the fact that David Vitter likes diaper-play mean conservatives are predisposed to infantilism? Of course not.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            I don’t know.

            But I do know that Chief Justice Warren Burger observed that there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy.

          • sabbath7

            Please tell us how you feel about Newt Gingrich poking an aide while his wife was in the hospital with cancer and he was impeaching the President for being a poker. Please tell us how you feel about Henry Hyde, the great apostle of morality, fathering a child out of wedlock as he prosecuted Clinton.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            In this video, communistic liberal democrat Louis Michael Seidman viciously attacks the Constitution of the United States: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5FTqlJmnnc

    • Jesse4

      I think we can all agree that you are a simple fool.

  • rr_nyc

    On Wall Street we call this talking your book. I will go with Silver’s analysis on this one. 2014 is a repeat of 2010/12 for the House.

  • Gentil Aquitaine

    Hubris is the word that must come to mind in any discussion of Ted Cruz and 2016… His tragic flaw.

    • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

      At this link we find the liberal manifesto of violent mass-murderer Christopher Dorner: http://www.scribd.com/doc/124401603/Dorner-Manifesto-FULL-TEXT

      • Gentil Aquitaine

        This is some of the right wing Oslo Killer’s manifesto:

        “We should not exceed (per 2010) aprox. 45 000 dead and 1 million wounded cultural Marxists/multiculturalists in Western Europe. The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance.
        The time for armed resistance has come.”

        How is that relevant to sane right-wingers in Europe?

        • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

          I don’t know.

          I do know, however, that a deranged liberal named Floyd Corkins was just sentenced to 25 years in prison for his violent domestic terrorist attack last year in Washington, DC: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/09/floyd-corkins-ii-to-be-sentenced-today-for-attempted-mass-shooting-94219.html

          • Jazzboy1

            Liberty: “I do not know… ” Exactly, you don’t know.

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            If Floyd Corkins, Chris Dorner, Ed Schultz, John Muhammed, Hussein Obama, Lee Boyd Malvo, Demetrius Glenn, Lakim Faust, Allan Brauer, John Van Allen, Michael Davis, and Aaron Alexis are any indication, today’s liberals are becoming increasingly unhinged, violent, and aggressive.

          • sabbath7

            Does being insane and vicious make you feel better about being a Republican? About losing our nation’s democratic elections in 2012? Does lying make you feel better about being a loser? You lie! You thug! You Republican!

          • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

            In related video, Hussein Obama lies to the face of the American people about keeping their insurance and their doctor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8spP856AMY

          • sabbath7

            God, all you’ve got is lies and then more lies. Are you really this stupid that you believe the American people believe a word you say? They agree with me. You are a low-life thug and a serial liar. Why do you hate the Constitution and our democratic freedom? Why do you right wing Republicans hate America?

          • boston11

            I have been able to keep my insurance and doctor, and am still covered by my employer. I looked at the healthcare exchange, and if I were to lose my job, I would be able to get the same coverage with the same doctor.

          • Fukk the Eagles

            Citing Fox News as your “evidence”? Um yeah, this is the same network that just broadcast a completely phony story about Obama recently because it was duped by a fake news website.

          • Fukk the Eagles

            You’ve already repeated this once. Got any new material?

          • Fukk the Eagles

            You are extremely inept. Floyd Corkins is not a “liberal.” Just saying he is doesn’t make him so. He is a crazy person.

      • Fukk the Eagles

        Wow, you are a really confused person. Actually Dorner was one insane person. And his manifesto actually reeks of typical anti-government conservatism. It’s always the conservatives who are out there killing innocent people. Again, you are a very confused person.

  • Socialism is Organized Evil

    Do you think that Karl Marx is thrilled about his resurrection by American liberals?

    • Jazzboy1

      Cute but silly.

    • sabbath7

      Do you think Joseph Goebbels is thrilled to be resurrected in the person of Ted Cruz?

    • Dave

      People like you only reveal your ignorance when you compare liberals to socialists and communists. This isn’t the 1950s any more, as difficult as that may be for you, so your Bircher histrionics are meaningless and hollow.

    • Siegfried Heydrich

      BWAAAHAAAAHAAAA! Whenever I read that nonsense, I know the poster is an elderly, addled, frightened white evangelical who is still living in the past. So, still worried about the Hippie menace? Marxism . . . sheesh. Old fogeys and their delusions . . .

      • Socialism is Organized Evil

        Today’s liberalism is no different than its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors.

        • Siegfried Heydrich

          Suuuure . . . and the Tea Party is no different than it’s KKK, Know-nothing, John Birch ancestors. The difference here is that you’re trying to destroy the nation in order to save it from itself. That’s a hard sell to make to sane people.

  • Jazzboy1

    Rothenberg wants to see the future before he makes predictions. Okay Stu, so does every political pundit. This column is full of “safe” remarks. Boring.

  • sabbath7

    Sort of shocking to read the completely insane and delusional, but still vicious and dishonest, remarks of the Right Wing Nut Jobs here. Meanwhile, they have placed the nation in harms way and gained nothing. They are not only stupid–and ignorant!–but they have all the strategic thinking of lemmings running over the cliff. Idiots. Liars. Crazies. Thugs. Republicans! They have followed Joseph Goebbels Cruz, the New Messiah, into the garbage pail of history.

  • ThisIsNot4U2

    Okay. I can’t say that it hasn’t been fun watching Cruz commit political hari kari on his career. But enough is enough. Time for him to drift back into obscurity. Much like his “female” counterpart SARAH PALIN.

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...