Peggy Noonan for The Wall Street Journal: Happy Days Aren't Here Again

November 3rd, 2011

The Wall Street Journal
November 3, 2011
By, Peggy Noonan

The Republican Party continues to struggle with its brand. A Washington Post-ABC poll this week tells us that in spite of Barack Obama’s relative unpopularity, and in spite of the economy, the Democratic Party is still more popular with voters than the GOP. Forty-eight percent said they view the Democratic Party favorably, while the Republicans came in at 40%. (Neither of the parties in our two party system broke through to fifty, which tells you something about the moment we’re in.) Only 13% said their view of the GOP was “strongly” favorable, down from 19% in February 2010 and well below the 21% who “strongly” favor the Democrats. Also in the poll a nameless Democrat beats a nameless Republican for the presidency. Republicans are lucky the president has a name.

The first thing to say, and the reports on the poll said it, is that it has always been this way. The Democratic Party has always polled better than the Republican Party. But this is a good time to consider why.

The broad and overarching reason is that 20th-century branding is still culturally powerful.

What is the Democratic brand? It is the party of the little guy, the outsider. The party of “We Shall Overcome,” of great movements—civil rights, feminism, the environment. The party of “Listen, isn’t this country rich enough to afford a little for the old, the infirm, people who need a boost?” You can argue the facts and legitimacy of this all day, but it lingers as a powerful part of the Democratic Party brand.

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