GOP’s ‘Pledge’ off to a very slow start

GOP’S ‘PLEDGE’ OFF TO A VERY SLOW START…. Much of the political world has waited for quite a while for congressional Republicans to offer some kind of policy vision, so the unveiling of the “Pledge to America” two weeks ago was something of a breakthrough. Sure, the agenda was a repackaging of the same old, tired, failed, and discredited ideas the GOP has been touting for years, but it was better than literally nothing.

Two weeks after presenting the “Pledge” to the country, how’s the proposal doing? Not very well. The same Republican candidates who presumably would be responsible for trying to pass the “Pledge” are pretending it doesn’t exist. Most voters, meanwhile, who were presumably supposed to be impressed with the document, have never heard of it.

News of Republican congressional candidates’ “Pledge to America” has not broken though, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Only about a third of Americans are familiar with the new GOP document; fully two-thirds express no knowledge of the conservative framework that proposes to reduce the size of government and reform Congress.

In a memo sent out to candidates today, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich cites the Pledge as a central component to the GOP’s closing argument in the campaign’s final weeks.

Yet, only 37 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of conservatives say they’ve heard of the 21-page policy agenda, which was rolled out with some fanfare two weeks ago.

Adding insult to injury, among those who have heard of the “Pledge,” the proposal isn’t winning anyone over. In the Post/ABC poll, 45% said the agenda doesn’t make any difference, 29% said it makes them less likely to vote Republican, and 23% said it makes a GOP vote more likely. Among self-identified independents, it’s even worse — 51% said the agenda doesn’t make any difference, 30% said it makes them less likely to vote Republican, and only 17% said it makes a GOP vote more likely.

The point isn’t just to point and laugh at the wildly unsuccessful rollout of a widely-panned Republican vision, though there is some entertainment value in that. Rather, I emphasize all of this because the polls offer a hint about a future mandate — or in this case, the lack thereof.

We obviously don’t know what’s going to happen in the midterms, but it still seems like a very safe bet that Republicans will gain a lot of seats, and quite possibly, the House majority. If so, GOP leaders will very likely start arguing early next year, “Americans elected us after we unveiled our ‘Pledge,’ which means we have a mandate to advance its provisions.”

If a clear majority of the country, including Republicans’ own supporters, have never heard of the thing, and those who have heard of it aren’t impressed, let’s state for the record right now that the notion of a “mandate” is pretty silly.