Resurgent Republic conducted its latest survey of 1000 American voters October 30 through November 2, 2011, with full results available below. Following are key highlights.
If President Obama's reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent, as are almost all reelection campaigns, then he remains in deep trouble a year out from the election, because Americansbelieve the country is worse off than when he was inaugurated.
When evaluating the condition of the country, today a majority of American voters:
The only measure on which Americans believe the country is better off is safety from terrorists, where 39 percent say we are better, 38 percent the same, and 20 percent worse.
When presented with arguments for and against Obama's jobs bill, Republicans strongly oppose it, Democrats strongly favor it, and Independents split down the middle. The survey presented two options:
Republicans oppose the jobs bill 70 to 24 percent, Democrats support it 78 to 18 percent, and Independents split 45 percent for and 47 percent against.
Congressman A says that Congress needs to pass President Obama's jobs bill. This funding would keep teachers in the classroom, police and firefighters on the job, and help repair our crumbling infrastructure.
Congressman B says that Congress should not pass President Obama's jobs bill. This is exactly like the first Obama stimulus bill that did not work, adding nearly a trillion dollars to the deficit while the unemployment rate went up.
Independents side with Republicans in opposing Obama's mortgage proposal, while Democrats support it.
Congressman A says President Obama's mortgage proposal is a good idea. We should make it easier for borrowers whose homes are worth less than their mortgages to stay in their homes, and the looming threat of foreclosures is holding back our economy.
Congressman B says President Obama's mortgage proposal is a bad idea. Giving mortgages to people who couldn't afford them is exactly what caused the housing bubble and the financial crisis in the first place. The government should not use taxpayer dollars to help people pay for houses they can't afford.
Republicans and Independents both think Obama's mortgage proposal is a bad idea, by 70 to 23 percent and 52 to 38 percent, respectively. Democrats think it is a good idea by 64 to 27 percent.
Americans are wary of cuts in defense spending.
Congressman A says cutting the defense budget along with domestic spending is necessary given our debt crisis. There is wasteful spending in the military, and it is time to cut back our military presence overseas.
Congressman B says cutting the defense budget is a mistake. Providing a strong national defense is the most important function of the federal government, and we need to be sure our military has all the resources it needs in a dangerous world.
A majority of Americans supports the argument against defense cuts, 52 to 42 percent. Republicans and Independents oppose defense cuts by 69 to 27 percent and 54 to 40 percent, respectively. Democrats want to cut the defense budget by 57 to 35 percent.
Neither conservative response tested opposing all tax increases defeats the liberal call for a "balanced approach" that has everyone paying "their fair share." The survey phrased the call for tax increases as:
Congressman A says that Congress needs to take a balanced approach to our debt problem by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. They should pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions.
The survey tested two options in response, with the first phrased as:
Congressman B says this is the wrong time to raise taxes on anyone. Higher taxes mean more money going to the government, and less money in the economy that businesses can use to hire workers and create new jobs.
With that formulation, the argument for higher taxes leads the argument against tax increases by 54 to 42 percent, including Democrats at 71 to 26 percent and Independents at 53 to 44 percent. Republicans oppose tax increases by 60 to 38 percent.
The other response was:
Congressman B says this is the wrong time to raise taxes on anyone. The top ten percent of earners already pay over two-thirds of all federal income taxes, while nearly half of Americans pay no federal income tax, and U.S. companies pay a thirty-five percent tax rate, more than most European countries.
The second response does somewhat better than the first, but only marginally. With that formulation, the argument for higher taxes leads the argument against tax increases by 53 to 43 percent, with Democrats at 74 to 25 percent and Independents at 48 to 46 percent. Republicans oppose raising taxes by 59 to 38 percent.
Health care reform, or "ObamaCare" to its critics, remains an albatross around the neck of the Obama Administration. Despite the hopes of its proponents, the health care reform plan is as unpopular today as when it was passed.
Even when presented with arguments for and against the reform plan, more Americans think the plan has been bad rather than good for America.
Congressman A says that health care reform has been good for America. It has provided health insurance to those who didn't have it, is controlling health care costs, and holding the insurance companies accountable.
Congressman B says that ObamaCare has been bad for America. It is raising health care costs, cut $500 billion from Medicare, and injected government bureaucrats into health care decisions.
With that formulation, voters oppose health care reform 49 to 44 percent, including majorities of Republicans (73 to 23 percent) and Independents (54 to 39 percent). A majority of Democrats supports it (68 to 24 percent).
Americans are clearly weary of our military involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq, although they are more evenly split on Iraq.
A majority is ready to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.
Congressman A says after ten years in Afghanistan, it is time to bring our troops home. Osama bin Laden is dead and the Taliban is scattered, and the United States cannot be expected to be a permanent traffic cop in a country dominated by competing tribal interests.
Congressman B says there is still important work for our country to do in Afghanistan. We have sacrificed American money and lives in making sure the country is secure, and it is in our national interest to stay for as long as the Taliban and al Qaeda remain a threat, since the 9/11 attacks were launched from Afghanistan.
Voters overall support bringing the troops home by 54 to 38 percent. Democrats are the strongest for pulling out at 67 to 23 percent, but Independents agree, 50 to 41 percent. Republicans think there is still work to be done there, by 53 to 42 percent.
Iraq is a closer call, with Democrats for pulling out, Republicans for staying longer, and Independents evenly split.
Congressman A says we should bring all our troops home from Iraq by the end of this year. We have overthrown a dictator and set up a democratic government. While we need to remain involved diplomatically, the work of our military forces is finished.
Congressman B says it is a mistake to bring all our troops home from Iraq by the end of this year. Doing so will jeopardize the gains we have made, and some continued American military presence is necessary to protect the country from extremists and outside threats like Iran.
Voters overall support bringing the troops home by 50 to 44 percent. Democrats are for pulling out at 67 to 28 percent, while Independents split evenly at 47 percent. Republicans think some continued American military presence is necessary, by 60 to 36 percent.
Opinions toward Occupy Wall Street improve when given arguments for and against the movement.
Occupy Wall Street is a positive force in American politics. They are rightly pointing out the excesses of big banks and Wall Street, which made huge profits while jeopardizing the financial security of ordinary Americans.
Occupy Wall Street is a negative force in American politics. They are left-wing activists who think capitalism is bad, and would prefer a system where government regulates profits and redistributes income instead of a free-market economy.
With this explanation, Americans believe Occupy Wall Street is a positive force by 47 to 37 percent, including Democrats at 62 to 24 percent and Independents by 49 to 36 percent. Republicans view it as a negative force by 54 to 28 percent.
In one more demonstration of populist anger toward Wall Street, one-third of the people with a favorable view of the Tea Party say Occupy Wall Street is a positive force.
The bottom line: defending Wall Street and big banks is a losing political proposition in the current climate.
President Obama faces an uphill battle for reelection. Just as with President Carter in 1980 and President George H. W. Bush in 1992, when voters are very upset about the direction of the country and the opposition party nominates a credible alternative candidate, a presidential reelection campaign turns into a referendum on the incumbent president's leadership. If the election were held today, one year before the actual election, President Obama would lose that referendum.
This survey of 1000 registered voters was conducted October 30 to November 2, 2011. Respondents were selected randomly from a random-digit-dialing sample including both cell phone and landline telephone numbers, and were contacted by live interviewers. All respondents confirmed that they are registered to vote in the county in which they live. Quotas were set for state, age, and race based on state registration and previous turnout. The sample was minimally weighted to 34 percent Democrat, 34 percent Independent, and 30 percent Republican.
The margins of error for responses with an even split – 50 percent for one response and 50 percent for another response – are ±3.10 percent for the full sample, ±5.66 percent for Republicans (300 respondents), ±5.34 percent for Independents (337 respondents), and ±5.31 percent for Democrats (340 respondents). The margin of error is smaller when one response receives a higher level of support. For example, the margin of error is ±2.68 percent when 75 percent of respondents in the full sample choose one response and 25 percent choose another response.