The Democrats’ Communication Problem – Part 2

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It’s just one poll, but Greg Sargent notices that a recent survey from Pew and National Journal indicates that the vast majority of Democrats don’t feel this has been a particularly successful Congress, legislation-wise. As Sargent notes, just 33% of Democrats believe this Congress accomplished more than recent Congresses. (37% said it accomplished the “same” and 24% said it had accomplished less.)

This is a fairly astounding result. Regardless of whether you agree with what Democrats have done with their large majorities in congress and control of the White House, it’s clear they notched some rather large legislative victories. Health care reform, the stimulus, financial reform are the big three. And Democrats didn’t notice? Well, maybe they did, but they felt previous Congresses – like those with Republicans agendas – also accomplished a lot, even if it was at odds with their own priorities. Maybe there’s a problem with using the word “accomplish” in a poll question.

My best guess is that Democrats could have done a better job of touting their accomplishments to their base and educating them on why huge changes were needed. Back in January, I used a different poll to show how Democrats had utterly failed to convince the American public at large that the U.S. health care system was broken enough to need fixing. I wrote:

…slightly more Americans are confident in their ability to access and afford health care than they were in May 2009. Despite all the town halls, the rallies organized by pro-reform progressive groups, the pro-reform television ad campaigns, the Congressional hearings featuring Americans injured by a flawed insurance apparatus, the public is simply not convinced that the health care system is broken enough that it needs to be changed dramatically.

It’s a fine line to walk between not wanting to scare off independents worried about government over-reach and still wanting to rally base voters behind historic changes.

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