Maybe you could just do collective effects. Like, have a “policy grudges” effect that groups all of that together. If you wanna figure out why it is what it is, you can refer to the history which should show recent policy changes accordingly.
Such a cumulative version could also help with those event decisions that stay permanently and stack. Instead of having a hundred “airport expansion” lines in there, it could be a single line but the effect strength just keeps going up each time. (tbh almost all of these should decay anyway. It often doesn’t make sense that they seemingly stay forever. For the same reason as this policy blowback stuff.
Most events already do but some stack indefinitely for some reason)
Maybe there could also be a, like, longerm/shortterm mechanic.
Basically, even as there is gonna be immediate blowback, people also will have an “average” opinion of you over time. Just because you did a single thing they disliked doesn’t mean they’ll immediately flee to the opposition which may well do worse things on average.
(Although that’s a bit underdefined in general in this game right now. “The opposition” is just a very abstract notion of “where voters go if they don’t like you”, which captures only very roughly what really happens. Usually, the biggest two parties are pretty close to center, one slightly left, one slightly right, but actually with substantial overlap, because they need to cater to the average voter.
It’s the same as how stores end up opening in the same spots. The fringes are gonna vote for you as the lesser evil so you don’t have to cater to them too much. The undecisive central voters are where you can most strongly move the needle.
If one of those fringe people is pissed off by a thing you do to cater to the block of voters who are ideologically close to the center, so long as there isn’t a sufficiently large party closer to the fringe, they won’t abandon your party for the opposition. And that kind of thing currently isn’t captured at all.
I’m saying this because I’m a bit afraid this blowback mechanic might overcorrect and make the popularity way too unpredictive of electoral success. If it just flings around wildly all the time, you may think you have near 100% approval so you allow yourself one tougher policy closer to election day and suddenly you drop to near 0 'cause you pissed everybody off so much…
It’d be realistic, yes. And I think it’d also be manageable by interface. I think I’d like this to be a mechanic. But I’m not entirely sure the way approval is currently translated into votes would make it work out.