So what is fueling the attitude captured by these polls? Well, unlike what the Democrats would have us believe, the American people aren’t wrong about how they feel. They are basing their responses on what they have observed: opportunities at home are diminished and threats abroad are growing. A typical liberal reaction is to argue that people’s own perceptions are misguided; that things are actually good and getting better. One example of this is a Slate article by Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack, which proclaims, “The world is not falling apart.” It is telling that we are seeing more and more headlines with that theme. The liberals’ message is, “Eat your peas and be thankful for just how good things are.”
Anyway, the disconnect between what the liberals are selling and the reality of where we are as a country is a big part of what is fueling anxiety among voters and generating the interest in the 2016 race, especially among the Republican base. But ultimately, these poll numbers represent more of a problem for the Democrats than for the Republicans. 2016 is clearly shaping up to be a change election. More of the same is undesirable. The idea that Hillary Clinton has a fresh perspective or a different approach — or, as Obama so aptly put it, possesses “that new car smell” is laughable.
The Republican presidential candidates are on the right track by emphasizing the fact that we are at a crossroads in this election, and we need to take this chance to change the direction of the country. As the Pew Research Center study makes plain, a vast majority of Americans believe they are losing on the things they care about, so it is fair game to constantly remind voters that change or relief won’t come via Clinton or anyone else who has been compliant with the Democrats during the Obama era. The election is still a long way away, but nothing about today’s polling data makes me want to trade places with the Democrats.