GOP Closing the Gap Because of Security and ….Pork?
A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll showed that the gap between support for a generic Democrat and generic Republicans had narrowed to 2% (47%-45%, respectively). As the related USA Today story pithily explained:
The arrest of terror suspects in London has helped buoy President Bush to his highest approval rating in six months and dampen Democratic congressional prospects to their lowest in a year.
In short, as security issues came back to the forefront, the general public re-assessed their priorities and–as has historically been the case–tend to look more favorably upon the GOP with regards to the future of Iraq and the War on Terror. Don Lambro agrees with “security” angle, but also adds this:
Another factor behind the Republicans’ end-of-summer rise in the polls: They have spent the past month reminding voters, particularly their party’s base, what they have done for their states and districts. Despite all the justified criticism about wasteful pork-barrel spending, the fact remains that most voters like their tax dollars coming back to them in bridge, road and other public-works projects and members aren’t shy about reminding them about the bacon they’ve brought home.
We’ve certainly seen this born out as one of the central pillars of Senator Chafee’s reelection strategy. It’s a tried and true strategy and is effective in garnering support from most average voters (like RI Independents), as Lambro’s analysis of the poll seems to bear out . It also is in stark contrast to Mayor Laffey’s “no pork” approach, which is appealing to the more conservative GOP base (the Porkbusters crowd). Two different messages that appeal to two different sections of the GOP primary electorate. Which message will ultimately take hold? As with all else in this crazy race, it all depends on turnout.