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Friday, July 14, 2006

Most Americans Plan to vote D

--posted by Tony Garcia on 7/14/2006

This is an interesting story...but what is more interesting is what is the cause. That is something that will be misinterpreted all around.
Republicans are in jeopardy of losing their grip on Congress in November. With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.

Further complicating the GOP outlook to turn things around is a solid percentage of liberals, moderates and even conservatives who say they'll vote Democratic. The party out of power also holds the edge among persuadable voters, a prospect that doesn't bode well for the Republicans.
First off is the same disclaimer that I put on every poll I quote. Polls are less accurate, methinks, than people realize. I lie to pollsters frequently and I have talked to many people that do the same.

That said I continue now with the analysis of the story.

Background and Setup

I do not listen to Rush for a very specific reason. The calls are not reflective of the nation. They are reflective of Republicans (different from conservatives). However, I admit that Rush is more reflective of conservative than Hannity. Hannity's show should be renamed GOP Hannity Show. I do not listen to Savage because his callers to not reflect the nation. They reflect the uber-Right. This does not mean I disagree with the hosts...I just think that they are not getting a good sense of America. I listen exclusively to Glenn Beck for a variety of reasons...one of the major reasons is his callers, in my view, are a good pulse on America, not just one side or another. This is very unique in radio. I think the screening is not about making the host look good (there are many other tools post-caller to fix if a host was bested), but about making sure the caller is not going to kill the air.

Whew...lots of background. Sorry.

There is a general disgust with politicians that exist constantly. That is a sad given. The disgust this year is stronger. It is direct...not just "politicians suck" but "this batch sucks". While I vomit a lot of fire at incumbents it is not unreflective of the wave I am beginning to see nationally. Conservatives are disgusted with their elected Republicans more than normal. Liberals are disgusted with their elected Democrats more than normal. The performance of 99.9% of elected officials matches about .1% of their campaign promises. (Yeah, that .1 is vastly understating, but that is the vibe nationally I am referring to.) There are too many individual issues this time that have "the bases" more willing to hop the line.

Many are considering it just to "teach a lesson". I think that is wrongheaded, but most Americans think it is OK. Ventura was the result of "teaching a lesson". While the GOP needed to lose 1998 it does not mean Ventura was necessarily the correct person to lose to. Different needs with the same end result.

The Real Issue

The real issues in this story are that conservatives are considering voting Democrat and the moderates are considering it too.

I have been saying for how long that both parties are adopting the "we suck, but they're worse" theme. This is not good news for the party in power when they adopt that. It does not instill confidence. The problem is I am hearing and reading that perception through many smaller conservative blogs across the nation (I love that "Next Blog" button!) Those who are not married to "Republicans Must Win at all costs" are able to see that there is a problem when a party controls the House, Senate and the White House yet still can get very little done. The conservatives are wondering, "Where is the shrinking of government? Where is the REAL illegal immigration control? Where is the appreciable tax code overhaul?" among many other questions. It is hard to have the control of those 3 things for 6 years and so little accomplished. Harder yet is convincing those who have given you those 6 years to give you the last 2. Why? On what record?

The other issue is the "moderates" or "undecideds" (or more cynically the "underinformed"). Some of the reasons I call out Republicans and their supporters is their rhetorical paths will not win the middle ground. They typically will win the base (though this year is a bigger question than normal) but in the general you must realize the people you are trying to win over will not pay attention. You must, each and every time, connect every single dot from premises and assumptions to conclusion. You cannot leave any dot to the imagination or interpretation of the audience. They will not fill in the blanks and the opposition will. You WILL lose the audience at that point and your job becomes harder.

Take 2004 as an example. Swift Boats were galvanizing the right-of-center but the middle of the roads were still, well, middle of the roads and leaning towards 'that was so long ago, who cares'. The Right did not connect the dots between why something so long ago matters in 2004. The Left filled in the blanks and I think would have won. Politics is about momentum and the Left was gaining it with the middle of the roads on that topic. It took Dan Rather to reverse the tide. Frankly, I think it was Rather that won the election for Bush.

What does it mean, Mulder

So why is this story important?
Not surprisingly, 81 percent of self-described liberals said they would vote for the Democrat. Among moderates, though, 56 percent backed a Democrat in their district and almost a quarter of conservatives _ 24 percent _ said they will vote Democratic.
Do the math on this one. The difference in party defectors is big...5% more conservatives than liberals and a 12% gap with the people that will make the difference.

Worse than that is the fact that negativity will supress the vote more often than not. Malaise will supress the vote. "We suck, but they are worse" will supress much of the vote, including within the bases. The smell of winning power may be the only thing that helps turnout for the liberals. But the stench from unfulfilled promises overwhelmes the possible loss of power.

Look at it from the perspective of the not-married-to-victory-alone people. Sure, the Democrats might be bad for my beliefs, but the Republicans have not helped my principles advance (or advance enough) so why vote for them. My own position is a little deeper: don't tell me why to oppose someone (like Hatch), tell me why to support someone (like Pawlenty). The disadvantage across the board is the incumbents have a record now of non-performance. To what degree is in the eye of the voter. (To me it is not UNDER-performance or NON-performance, it is a record of UN-performance...going the wrong way).

I'm not projecting my view on this story. My perception is in accordance with this study.
Overall, only 27 percent approved of the way Congress is doing its job. Lawmakers get favorable marks from 36 percent of conservatives, 28 percent of moderates and 17 percent of liberals.
36%? That is horrible for a group whose own people are the ones in power for 6 years. That is telling you that 64% of the conservatives are not happy with the performance of their own people.

Pulling Victory from the jaws of apathy?

The only thing that may save the day for the Republicans (in the short term) is the Democrats are still inept. They are Clubber Lang and have pounded on Rocky. Now they are not delivering the knockout punch, they are standing against the ropes on the other side of the ring waiting for Rocky to fall down.

The thing that will save the day for the Republicans in the long term is if they actully do get swept out this November. A new and revitalized party will be back in 2008 and with the right (and Right) candidate on the top of the ticket they will experience another 1980. A restored sense of trust in the candidates will come in 2008.

While I hate the idea of economic trailing indicators they actually do help to understand things. Look for the following "trailing indicator" this November: a lowered incumbency victory rate. I think you will see a lower incumbent re-election rate because so many are upset at politicians specifically for not performing, unlike in the past where it is every other politician that is not doing the job.

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