February National Tracking Poll for Conservative Intel

Conducted:  February 25-26, 2013
Sample Size:  2184 Likely Voters
Margin of Error:  +/-2.1%

Sequestration Series

Question:

How much have you seen, read or heard about what’s known in Washington as The Sequester?

A surprising 53% of likely voters have heard A Good Deal about the sequester and only 16% say they have heard “nothing at all”.  This demonstrates another difference between media polling and political polling.  This week, countless media polls that survey registered voters and “adults” found little public interest in the sequester fight.  Political operatives lend no credence to surveys that poll “adults”.  They are just not relevant to the business.  Polling likely voters, the ones that decide the fate of politicians, is what matters to those who practice politics.

The reality is that the awareness of sequestration among likely voters has reached a level at which this fight is now consequential beyond the beltway.

Liberals and Moderates are the most in tune with 66% and 61% respectively saying they have heard A Good Deal about the sequester.  Rallying the base much, Mr. President?

Question:

Currently, a $1.2 trillion spending cut, split between national defense and domestic spending, is due to take effect in March.  Which of the following comes closest to your opinion about those spending cuts: The cuts should go forward because the government is running large budget deficits and the debt is hurting our economy, or the cuts should be stopped because they will badly weaken our military and lead to job losses?

In the battle of competing sequester messages, those who support letting the spending cuts take effect are headed for defeat, as only 35% back that position.  It’s little wonder that both parties are posturing hard as opponents of the measure. 

What’s clear is that American voters are in no mood for austerity.  A near-decade of economic decline and high unemployment has worn away our esteem for fiscal discipline.  President Obama has rallied populist opposition to any further sacrifice by the American people. 

The dust has barely settled on the first progressive tax increase in two decades.  Now, support is sparse for what is, in reality, a modest $86 billion reduction in government spending.  These are desperate times for fiscal conservatives.

Younger voters are more likely to believe the cuts are necessary to reduce deficits and strengthen the economy while older voters believe the sequester will hurt the military and cost jobs.

Question:

This across-the-board spending cut is known in Washington as the sequester.  Who do you think is most responsible for the sequester spending cuts: President Obama or Congressional Republicans?

This is startling.  We did not ask voters who they will blame for the two parties not coming together to stop sequestration.  Obama wins under that premise every time.  We asked who voters think is responsible for the idea of sequestration.  It is now widely acknowledge that the idea originated with the White House.  And yet, voters place responsibility for the concept at the feet of Congressional Republicans.

The lesson here is that President Obama is on a roll.  He has adeptly pinned responsibility for the sequester on Republicans, despite it not being true.  It is a remarkable feat by the White House and maddening for Republicans.

Obama & Israel: Friends or Foes?

Question:

In March, Barack Obama will be making his first trip as President to Israel.  Do you believe Obama is more of a friend or more of a foe toward Israel?

President Obama’s demeanor and conduct toward Israel was the subject of heated debate throughout his first term.  As he prepares for his first trip to the country, voters perceive Obama to be “more of a foe” (42%) than “more of a friend” (38%) toward Israel.

Three of the four regions of the country believe Obama is more foe than friend: Midwest (44%-39%), South (52%-31%), and West (44%-36%).  Only the Northeast perceives the President as a friend of Israel (41%-32%).

Who Controls Washington: Obama or GOP?

Question:

Who do you think controls Washington: President Obama or Congressional Republicans?

Despite controlling only one-half of one-third of American government, a full 56% of voters either believe Congressional Republicans control Washington outright or they have at least as much power as President Obama.  That makes it a whole lot easier for President Obama and Senate Democrats to routinely pin voters’ frustration with Washington on House Republicans.

It doesn’t help that House Republicans generate a level of attention from the media that far exceeds their actually power in Washington.  The House GOP is more overexposed than Taylor Swift.

Republicans are at an extreme disadvantage in title fights against President Obama.  Some argue that Republicans should disengage.  Instead, play small-ball on granular issues that unite the Republican conference and contrast it with a Democratic caucus that is virtually devoid of moderates.  Blue Dogs are extinct following the massacre of 2010.

Whatever the play, Republicans need a messaging strategy that confronts the circumstances of the present.  The “just say jobs” strategy is a fine one if you’re not constantly in a hands-tied knife fight with a popular President.

What’s needed is a fundamental recasting (i.e. narrow casting) of the basic function of Republicans in a government owned and operated by liberal Democrats.

Is your Congressman part of the problem?

Question:

Do you believe that your Member of Congress is part of the problem in Washington or part of the solution?

The old axiom is that voters hate Congress.  But not their Congressman.  Not in this instance.  Forty-five percent of voters say their Member of Congress is Part of the Problem while 31% say Part of the Solution.

Republicans are evenly split with 38% a piece.   Democrats and independent voters are decidedly more upset with their Member of Congress.  Forty-nine percent of both Democrats and Independents say Part of the Problem.

Obama's Pre-K Proposal

Question:

Do you support or oppose the government subsidizing pre-kindergarten schooling for four year olds from low-income backgrounds?

Expanding pre-kindergarten for children from low-income backgrounds was a noted proposal from the President’s State of the Union address.  Voters are split right down the middle with 43% opposed and 42% in support. 

The issue breaks down along party lines with 68% of Democrats in support and 65% of Republicans opposed. 

Increase the minimum wage?

Question:

Do you support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00?

An increase in the minimum wage was another State of the Union proposal by President Obama.  A $1.75 increase in the minimum wage enjoys strong support from voters with 52% in favor and 40% opposed.

Americans have little sympathy for small business owners these days.  Following an upper-income tax increase that impacts small business owners, voters now back a minimum wage hike that will trim the profits and employees of small businesses.

Voters either do not believe that there is a relationship between a business’s profitability and its ability to hire – or they could not care less.  Whatever the case, these results are further evidence that the American mindset is currently inhospitable to core Republican economic arguments.

Clinton ’16 & Benghazi

Question:

Do you believe the State Department’s failure to send additional security requested by our murdered diplomats in Benghazi will be an issue for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she runs for President?

The terrorist attack that killed American diplomats in Benghazi is likely to be an issue for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, according to voters.  Requests by Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, for additional security were ignored by Clinton’s State Department.  While the incident demonstrated ineptitude by the Obama Administration, it is likely to remain an issue for only one person: Hillary Clinton.

Any Democrat not named Joe Biden (culpability) will try out the line of attack.  Anyone who observed the Clinton vs. Obama primary knows it’s naïve to think Benghazi won’t come up in 2016.

Men (48%) and women (42%) alike believe Clinton will face criticism over the unanswered requests for security that ultimately cost American diplomats their lives.

Gun Control Series

Question:

Do you believe President Obama's gun control policies will significantly reduce the chance of a mass shooting?

If President Obama’s objective was to convince Americans that he would address the rise of mass shootings, he’s not done so yet.  Two-thirds of voters believe his gun control measures will not significantly reduce mass shootings. 

Fifty-four percent of Northeast voters and 61% of women agree that the chances of mass shootings will not decline.  Democrats are relatively split 42% Yes and 38% No.

Question:

If Congress passes a ban on rifles known as assault weapons should the government also require confiscation of those types of weapons already legally owned by private citizens?

For those who argue that banning assault weapons also means government repossession of outlawed guns, they face public opposition to that notion.  Sixty percent of voters believe banned guns should not be confiscated from people who already own them.  That opinion is most strongly held in the Midwest (62%) and South (66%).  Independent voters (66%) and men (66%) also strongly oppose confiscation.

Question:
Vice President Biden told reporters President Obama's new gun policies will do nothing to quote "fundamentally alter" the chances of a mass shooting. Does that make you more or less likely to support President Obama's proposals?

Vice President Biden’s moment of candor undermines support for the President’s gun control measures.  Half of all voters say it makes them less likely to support the Obama proposal.

Voters in the Northeast cut Biden a bit of break as only 39% say less likely.  Forty-five percent of Democrats put their jersey on for the team as 45% say more likely.  Independents (53%) and Republicans (79%) are less likely to support Obama after hearing Biden’s comments.

Question:

During the presidential campaign, President Obama said he would not confiscate anyone's guns.  Do you believe he will stick to that promise or do you believe he will try to confiscate some types of guns?

A surprising 48% of voters are deeply suspicious of President Obama’s promise not to confiscate lawfully purchased guns.  Men (50%) and women (47%) are in agreement on the issue. 

Opinion breaks down along party lines with 68% of Democrats saying Obama will stick to his promise and 78% of Republicans saying that he will not.  Independents tip the scale with 56% believing Obama will try to confiscate some types of guns.

MONTHLY TRACKING QUESTIONS

Generic Republican Primary Ballot

Question:
(Republicans only)

In a Republican primary election, would you vote for the party-backed candidate who is more electable or the tea party conservative candidate?

Support for the Electable Republican stands at 45%, which is largely unchanged since January’s 43%.  However, the Tea Party Conservative has seen a 7% drop in support since January.  Voters who describe themselves as Somewhat Conservative are the culprits.  In January, they favored the Electable Republican by 23%.  Today, that lead has grown to 37%.

How’s Obama Doing Lately?

Question:

Is President Obama making things in this country lately, better or worse?

President Obama has seen a 5% drop in voter perception that he’s making things better in this country lately.   The opinion of men changed by less than 1%.  However, women have shifted significantly from January when they said Better by a net 6%.  Now, they choose Worse by a net 8%. 

Generic Congressional Ballot

Question:

If the election for Congress were held today, would you prefer to vote for: the Republican candidate or Democratic candidate?

The generic congressional ballot among likely voters is a statistical tie.  This is largely unchanged from Election Day 2012 when any given poll should a minimal 1% advantage for either party in Congress.

True to form, Democrats are strongest in the Northeast (46-32%) and the West (45%-39%).  Republicans do best in the South (48%-36%) and the Midwest (43%-40%).

Men and women are mirror opposites in their opinion.  Women pick the Democrat (43%-40%) and men choose the Republican (44%-39%).

Demographics

Regions

Party Self-Identification

Age

Gender