After attending the monthly Civitas Institute luncheon today downtown and listening to a room full of Republicans analyze a Civitas poll and bash Democratic ideals, I thought I'd respond.
Most of the results themselves weren't very surprising. The questions about Elizabeth Dole and potential challengers to her Senate seat in 2008 seemed reasonable, as did the results. However, the fact that Dole's approval rating is below 50% and a potential mathcup between her and Brad Miller has her only receiving 46% support is not a good thing for Republicans. As Justing noted, even though she leads Miller by 15 points, having less than 50% support is not a good sign for an incumbent.
Some of questions moreso than others seemed clearly slanted toward the right. The questions on immigration reform mentioned amnesty, a word that brings up very negative feelings on the subject. Its no surprise that when the recent Congressional bill was branded as amnesty, people showed overwhelming opposition to it.
When discussing the results of the taxation questions, it was noted that the way in which the questions were framed and what the taxes would pay for was very important in how people responded. Obviously, people are relatively opposed to higher taxes no matter what the circumstance, but telling people that the taxes would pay for pork projects, tax breaks to businesses, and new state jobs will create an even more negative reaction. Telling people their taxes will go to pay for useless or unnecessary budget expenses is not a good way to prove that taxes are bad. The majority of people accept taxes because they know they go towards essential social services and improving our state. If people wanted no new taxes as much as this poll and the ideologues at the Civitas meeting suggest, then people would vote that way. But they don't, which is why the Democrats have a majority in the state legislature and not the Republicans.
Aside from the poll, the overall perception I got from the meeting was that of desperate optimism over the direction in which the Republican party is moving. Many of the attendees were staunchly conservative and did little to hide their disdain over the Democratic leadership in Congress and North Carolina government. However, the facts don't lie. Bush's approval rating is the lowest it's ever been, people are fed up with the War, and the Democrats now control Congress and looking towards the White House.
They year 1994 was repeatedly brought up. The nostalgia for that year as the rise of Republican dominance was apparent and it seems as if those who still have faith in the party are trying their best to recreate the environment of 1994. I don't think that's going to happen soon, especially with the President making policy mistake after mistake and further alienating his supporters. The more people associate President Bush with the Republican establishment, the worse it will get for the party.