There are some encouraging numbers for Dems in the new NYT/CBS poll, but the really important part of the poll was how Americans perceive the liberal policy agenda in general. Jonathan Cohn explained:
If you think that the solutions to most of these problems necessarily involve creating new government programs or strengthening existing ones–in other words, if you’re a liberal like me — probably the most encouraging finding is the response to this question: “Would you rather have a smaller government providing fewer services, or a bigger government providing more services?” Forty-three percent say “bigger” — the exact same percentage that says “smaller.” Not since late 1991 — when, apparently, the Times first began asking the question — did the public express such favorable attitudes towards government. [...]
So what’s the political lesson here? On the merits, the case for more aggressive regulation and a stronger safety net — not just in health care, but also banking, pensions, and other areas — has never been stronger. And the insecurity evident in this poll suggests people are becoming more open to these sorts of initiatives — more, certainly, than they have been in a long time.
Quite right. I’d just add that 58% of Americans (pdf) said they would also support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 — just as Clinton and Obama have proposed.