Rasmussen Polling On The Issues: What A Difference A Year Makes!

Unlike many conservatives, I think polling is extremely useful — provided you understand how to use it. You have to know which polls are reliable and which ones aren’t, be on the lookout for bias, pay more attention to trends than single polls, and understand that polling numbers are snapshots in time, not statues, forever cemented into place.

It’s also worth noting, particularly on issue related polls, that the public’s views on a particular issue aren’t necessarily just about that issue. If the public loses confidence in someone closely identified with a political party, that party may suffer across the board. If the public comes to believe that a political party is grievously wrong on one issue, they may begin to distrust them on multiple issues.

That brings me to the Rasmussen polling data that my co-blogger Melissa Clouthier discussed yesterday on Right Wing News.

Here are the key numbers from Rasmussen that are being widely cited.

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on six out of 10 key issues, including the top issue of the economy.

Health Care: Dems +10
Education: Dems +7
Social Security: Dems +6
Abortion: Even
Economy: GOP + 6
Taxes: GOP +5
Iraq: GOP +8
Nat’l Security: GOP +15
Gov’t Ethics: GOP +6
Immigration: GOP +14

At first glance, that data appears to be good news for the GOP, but that undersells it. When you look at the trends, those are actually phenomenal numbers for Republicans and terrifying numbers for the Democrats.

Why?

Because one year ago, in the June of 2008 survey from Rasmussen, the Democrats were ahead on all 10 issues,

Economy: Dems +14
Nat’l Security/War on Terror: Dems +3
Iraq: Dems +8
Gov’t Ethics & Corruption: Dems +13
Health Care: Dems +17
Social Security: Dems +11
Education: Dems +16
Taxes: Dems +2
Immigration: Dems +4
Abortion: Dems +7

Those are some HUGE shifts in a year’s time. 20 points on the economy. 19 points on Gov’t Ethics & Corruption. 18 points on Nat’l Security/War on Terror. 18 points on immigration. The only areas where the Democrats are ahead on are Health Care, Education, Social Security — issues where the Democrats have traditionally been as strong as the Republicans are on National Security. Given that Obama has only been in since January, chances are, the Democrats haven’t come close to hitting bottom yet either.

Although it’s still early and things can change, what this suggests is that the political environment of 2010 is going to be much different than it was in 2006 or 2008, when the Republicans had to run against a strong headwind. This time around, having a (D) next to a candidate’s name may be as big a disadvantage as the (R) was in the last couple of elections.

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