A rude awakening

A RUDE AWAKENING…. Congressional Republicans seem to be feeling pretty good about themselves. They’re voting in lock step, dominating the cable chatter, and releasing Aerosmith-backed videos bragging about their opposition to the economic recovery package. The GOP had discovered its mojo and was finally where it wanted to be.

But while Republican policymakers have clearly impressed each other, they haven’t quite connected with everyone else.

President Obama is benefiting from remarkably high levels of optimism and confidence among Americans about his leadership, providing him with substantial political clout as he confronts the nation’s economic challenges and opposition from nearly all Republicans in Congress, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most faulted Republicans for their response to the president, saying the party had objected to the $787 billion economic stimulus plan for political reasons. Most said Mr. Obama should pursue the priorities he campaigned on, the poll found, rather than seek middle ground with Republicans.

The NYT poll found that three-quarters of Americans believe the president has been trying to work with Republicans, but only 3 in 10 said Republicans were doing the same. Indeed, 63% of poll respondents said Republican opposition to the stimulus package was about politics, not policy, and 79% said Republicans should give up on its agenda and start working more with Democrats.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll showed similar results. The president enjoys a 68% approval rating; congressional Democrats have 50% support, and congressional Republicans’ rating is just 38%.

Head to head … Americans put far more faith in Obama than in congressional Republicans: Sixty-one percent said they trust Obama more than the GOP on economic matters; 26 percent side with the Republicans in Congress. On that question, Obama’s advantage is bigger than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush ever had over the opposition party in the legislature.

Overall, Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront “the big issues” over the next few years.

Somehow, “back in the saddle” isn’t the first phrase that comes to mind.

Now, publius makes the point that the GOP isn’t necessarily striving for short-term gains, and is thinking more about positioning for 2010 and 2012. There’s certainly something to that — Republicans want to be able to say, “We told you so,” if the economy continues to struggle in the coming years.

But I also think Republicans expected some kind of boost out of the recent economic fight, which featured a very aggressive p.r. push on GOP economic ideas. If the new poll results are any indication, their efforts haven’t worked at all.