On the bright side, when there's a real story out there, it tends to be covered better than it otherwise would be.
And the real story out there remains President Obama's new policy on undocumented immigrants. There is no shortage of substantive reporting and instructive analysis. And now polling.
President Barack Obama is winning the opening round in the battle over immigration, according to a Bloomberg poll released today, putting Republicans on the defensive with his decision to end the deportations of some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Sixty-four percent of likely voters surveyed after Obama’s June 15 announcement said they agreed with the policy, while 30 percent said they disagreed. Independents backed the decision by better than a two-to-one margin.
The results underscore the challenge facing Mitt Romney and Republicans as they try to woo Hispanic voters, who are the nation’s largest ethnic minority and made up 9 percent of the 2008 electorate, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of exit polls. Obama won the Hispanic vote 67 to 31 percent over Republican John McCain in 2008, according to exit polls.
If the good news for Democrats and supporters of the move is that it's overwhelmingly popular, the not-so-good news (it's not really bad) is that it's not an issue that's really a priority for most people. "The poll showed that relatively few respondents surveyed consider immigration their top issue amid continued economic anxiety, with 4 percent of voters naming it as their leading concern," Bloomberg reports.
But it shows a continuing trend in poll after poll and issue after issue; Republicans are hopelessly out-of-touch with the mainstream.
The decision left Republicans struggling to respond, trapped between alienating their political base and sending a negative signal to the Hispanic community and independent voters. A majority -- 56 percent -- of likely Republican voters opposed the decision, while almost nine in 10, or 86 percent, of Democrats supported it. Sixty-five percent of independents backed the policy change, while 26 percent disagreed.
Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, has refused to say whether he would reverse the decision if he’s elected.
Of Democrats, Republicans, and Indies, only a Republican majority disagrees with the president. On the bright side, 56% is also the weakest majority for any group. But on any given issue, it's Republicans who seem most out of step with the mainstream.
For example, a recent CNN poll (pdf) showed that while 70% of Democrats and 60% of Independents support marriage equality for same-sex couples, only 23% of Republicans agreed. Drop the party labels and go with self-identified ideology and the results aren't extremely different: 83% liberal, 61% moderate, and 27% conservative. They're the fringe nuts in any poll.
Which is why the stupid season serves them so well. The only way they can really gain traction is through personal attacks on another candidate's character. This is why so many attack ads include the phrases "President Obama believes," "Barack Obama thinks," or "Obama doesn't understand." Some day I'll put together a list of flags to look for when detecting political BS; statements that involve mindreading will be way up toward the top.
Which is why the timing was so good for announcing this shift in policy. The stupid season is the result of a news drought, so gaffes become scandals in the headlines. A substantive story about an actual policy debate is going to get a lot of coverage. Republicans would rather not have that debate, because it's one more chance for the mainstream to notice that the GOP is always on the wrong side of an issue.
(image credit: from a photo by paulinaclemente, via Flickr)