So Much For That ‘backlash’

Several pundits have declared the point so obvious that it became instant conventional wisdom: Democrats on the Hill want to hold the administration accountable through oversight, but the public doesn’t care. Worse, if Dems kept it up, the outraged public would punish the party.

We’ve already seen some evidence that the media’s assumptions are misplaced, but the closer one looks at the question, the more wrong the “backlash” argument becomes.

The Democrats’ stepped-up pace of investigations has not drawn much in the way of negative reaction. Just 31% believe Congress is spending too much time investigating possible government wrongdoing, while slightly more (35%) say they are spending too little time on this, and a quarter believe that the time spent on investigations has been appropriate.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats or independents to say that Congress is spending too much time on investigating possible wrongdoing. Still, only about half of Republicans (48%) express this view, while nearly as many say Congress is spending too little time (24%), or the right amount of time (20%), on investigations.

In addition, more independents say Congress is spending too little time on investigations than too much (by 39%-29%). Roughly the same number of Democrats as independents say Congress is devoting too little time to investigations.

I guess Time's Richard Stengel is still wrong about what Americans want to see in the way of oversight.


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