Conventional political wisdom pegs Republicans as the most threatened by pollster Scott Rasmussen's shocking finding that a Tea Party party would draw more support today than the GOP, but Democrats have even more to fear.
Consider the situation facing Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., an incumbent representing one of her party's most reliable congressional districts in the country, thanks to the 18 point registration advantage Democrats enjoy over Republicans.
Her district is so solidly Democratic that Titus has voted with the liberal Democratic majority on all three of the major issues before Congress this year, including President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade, anti-global warming energy bill, and the House version of Obamacare.
In normal circumstances, Titus should cruise to re-election because her voting on the big issues of the day appears to match the views of her constituents. But guess what — the latest Mason-Dixon poll finds Titus in a dead heat with Joe Heck, a relatively unknown Republican.
Titus' poor showing can't be ascribed to ethics problems. As RedState.com's Leon Wolfe notes, “Titus does not have any major corruption or personal issues driving up her unfavorables like Jon Corzine did or like Chris Dodd does.”
And, as Wolfe further notes, “it also can't be that voters are punishing Titus for the failure of the Democratic legislative agenda in general; the House passed all three measures and Titus was a contributing factor to all three.”
The fact is that most of Titus constituents in a heavily Democratic district oppose what she is voting for in Congress. The Mason-Dixon survey found voters in the district oppose Obamacare 47-41 percent.
Now let's look at Rasmussen's numbers. Most of the media coverage focused on the fact 36 percent of the respondents picking Democrats for congressional voting, compared with 23 percent going for a Tea Party-endorsed candidate, and a mere 18 percent opting for the GOP candidate.
That's significant news to be sure, as it shows just how sorry a state into which the Republican Party has fallen since the 2004 election. Frankly, it looks like the GOP is permanently branded as the party that promised but failed to get Washington spending and corruption under control.
The GOP now has the same problem faced by General Motors and Chrysler ever since American cars and trucks became indelibly branded among consumers as having less quality than Japanese vehicles.
GM — and Chrysler to a lesser extent — closed the quality gap years ago, but the second-rate image remains among the biggest threats to the two firms' prospects for ever regaining buyers' confidence. That both had to be bailed out by government and are now effectively controlled by Washington bureaucrats and the United Auto Workers union only makes it worse.
But wait, it gets worse for the Democrats, too, thanks to the abandonment of the Obama Democrats by independents. The Tea Party candidate gets the nod by 33 percent of independents, compared with 25 percent for the Democrat and only 12 percent for the Republican.
Most significantly, Rasmussen found 41 percent of his respondents overall saying the Democrats and Republicans are so much alike that a new party is required to represent the American people. Among independents, 60 percent say a new party is needed.
We are witnessing a widening, cross-partisan voter rebellion against Washington deficits, taxes, spending, regulation, and cronyism incited by two major factors. First came the earmark-powered spending splurge and congressional corruption under George Bush and the Republican congressional majority.
Voters threw the GOP out of power in Congress in 2006 and out of the White House in 2008. But then the second factor came into focus when the Obamacrats got it exactly backward by concluding those elections proved voters wanted to turn America into a European welfare state.
Voters wanted “change,” to be sure, but that meant lower spending and taxes, less bureaucratic meddling in their lives, fewer federal boondoggles, and no more corruption or coddling of special interests. Obamacrats are instead giving them monumentally more of everything they don't want.
That is why the worst thing that can be said of a Washington politician these days isn't “Democrat” or “Republican,” it's “incumbent.”
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on washingtonexaminer.com.