Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 1:14 pm | Mostly Cloudy 65º


Mark Shields: Have Democrats Lost it?

As the line blurs between the two parties, Republicans gain clear advantage with voters

Almost everything that comes across my desk is interesting. But only some things are important.

Mark Shields
Mark Shields

Take the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

Among the intriguing nuggets concerning voters this election year: While just 30 percent of Americans hold “positive feelings” toward the Republican Party (compared with 37 percent who feel positively toward the Democratic Party), those voters who are most interested in the 2010 elections, and therefore more likely to vote in November, favor Republican control of Congress by an emphatic 56 percent to 36 percent.

Fewer voters (just 10 percent) today have positive feelings toward publicly bailed-out Citigroup than they do toward Gulf oil-spilling BP (11 percent). But both of those unpopular corporations might take some cold comfort from the public’s near-unanimous hostility toward Goldman Sachs, with a lonely 4 percent positive rating and a resounding 50 percent negative from the public.

The one possible consolation from these numbers for current members of Congress is that Wall Street and oil companies are more lowly regarded and more widely disrespected than are they — or the political parties to which they belong.

But, for my money, the most important question in the most recent Journal-NBC News poll has received next to no news coverage. Here it is: “When it comes to the problems of financial markets, do you think that (the Republicans in Congress/the Democrats in Congress) are more concerned about the interests of average Americans or more concerned about the interests of large corporations?”

This question was previously asked in July 2002 during the first term of President George W. Bush. Then, just 28 percent believed that Republicans in Congress were more concerned with the interests of average Americans, while 55 percent identified congressional Republicans with the interests of large corporations. Today, the Republican Party is viewed to be at the beck and call of Big Business. Barely 20 percent of citizens see Republicans as more concerned with the interests of average Americans, while a landslide 71 percent call congressional Republicans more concerned with the interests of large corporations.

Eight years ago, a plurality of voters — 47 percent — saw Democrats in Congress as more concerned with the interests of average Americans, and only 29 percent judged Democrats to be doing the bidding of large corporations. But by 2010, the bottom has fallen out for the Democrats. Now, only 35 percent of respondents say congressional Democrats are more concerned with the interests of average Americans, compared with a majority — 53 percent — who deem the Democrats in Congress more concerned about the well-being of large corporations.

We can argue why this has happened. It is irrefutable that while many American families endure economic pain and live with fear, one sector of the nation’s economy — the financial sector, with its headquarters on Wall Street — has prospered, with record profits and record bonuses. Goldman Sachs and Citi may be near universally disliked and distrusted, but people see all that has occurred — including generous emergency aid from U.S. taxpayers — while Democrats have been in control of Washington. And, yes, most of the Wall Street campaign contributions have moved to the Democrats from the Republicans.

For the heirs of the party of Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman to lose the trust of ordinary Americans to fight on behalf of “the little guys” against Big Money is for Democrats to forfeit their moral identity and their historical birthright.

More than 20 years ago, former Rep. Dan Glickman, D-Kan., told his fellow Democrats a timeless truth: “Money has made it more difficult for Democrats to define an economic agenda that is different from the Republican agenda: We are taking from the same contributors.”

If 2010 voters continue to see no difference between the two parties on who is the champion of average Americans, then Nov. 2 could be a historic day for Republicans.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >