We still do not know how this story ends. We could be at the beginning of a new, six-month chapter with voters growing more invested in the country’s current course and shifting their thinking about the issues and stakes. Or we could be locked into this current chapter as a final one full of angry citizens determined to cast their votes against Washington, the elites, Democrats and government. There is some evidence the former is possible, if the president and Democrats throw themselves behind emergent trends, though there is even more evidence for the latter ending.
Health care’s passage did not produce even a point rise in the president’s approval rating or affection for the Democratic Congress. Virtually every key tracking measure in April’s poll has remained unchanged, including the Democrats’ continued weakness on handling of the economy. Both parties are equally reviled, reflected in their lowest ratings in history, while voters want to punish those in power – for the partisan bickering, bailing out the undeserving, government spending, the deficit, and the endless gridlock over health care while people struggled to survive the jobs crisis. With independents even more conservative and Republican-leaning in this survey, the congressional battle in 2010 looks like a dead-heat at best – a 12-point swing in this poll from 2008.