Public expects the Democrats to deliver (Jill Lawrence, 11/13/06, USA TODAY)
Joel Benenson, a Democratic strategist whose firm worked on several Senate races, said the poll underscores the message voters sent Bush. “They expect the Democratic Party to have influence with the president,” he said. “They want things to get done. They think the Democrats can help make that happen.”
Wes Anderson, a Republican strategist whose firm handled independent spending for the GOP Senate campaign committee, said voters fired his party for incompetence. “The challenge for the Democrats at this point is living up to the billing,” he said. “The bar is set probably higher than they want it to be set.”
Democrats appear for now to have buried their image as soft on security, despite charges by Bush and other Republicans that terrorists would gain ground if Democrats won majorities. By 63%-33%, poll respondents said it is not likely Democrats in Congress will take steps that would weaken national security.
In other expectations, 6 in 10 said it is likely Democrats in Congress will raise taxes. Half said it’s likely Democrats will make prescription drugs less expensive and vote to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq.
There was skepticism about Democratic pledges to clean up ethics and cut the budget deficit. About half said it’s unlikely that Democrats will try to reduce corruption; 58% said deficit reduction is unlikely.
The Democrats set to lead their party on Capitol Hill are relatively unknown. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, in line to be speaker, had a 38% favorable rating. The same percentage said they had never heard of her or had no opinion about her.
More than half said they’d never heard of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., or had no opinion of him. The future Senate majority leader was viewed favorably by 27%.
The challenge for Democrats is to keep the name recognition of its leaders that low.