Free Markets, Free People

Polling


Poll: GOP gets most of the blame for shutdown, but Obama approval dips to 37%

Not that I care, particularly, who gets the blame in all of this.  Frankly I’m with the “a pox on both your houses” group that finds the entire Congress and the President to be equally at blame.  But then there’s the “I’m fine with the shutdown and it is important for the GOP to make the spending point” that finds me mostly on the GOP’s side.

Look, we’ve seen the government shutdown before.  And despite all the scare rhetoric, we’re not going to default on our debt.  Nope, this is about how inconvenient this bunch who continues to want to run up debt can make this shutdown seem to the voters.  The idea, obviously, is to have them screaming and whining enough to push the GOP into their usual position – the dying cockroach, where they give in and let the Democrats have their way.  Result?  The usual – more spending and more debt.

Anyway, to the AP poll:

The Associated Press-GfK survey, out Wednesday, affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the fiscal paralysis, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there’s plenty of disdain to go around.

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.

“About half” blame the Dems and Obama. Yet, Obama’s approval ratings drop by 10 points from his previous low of 47%. Hmmm. Must be more to it than “about half”, huh?

But the media spin machine prefers to lay it on the GOP.

As for ginning up support to pressure the GOP to cave, there’s still a ways to go:

More than 4 in 5 respondents felt no personal impact from the shutdown. For those who did, thwarted vacations to national parks, difficulty getting work done without federal contacts at their desks and hitches in government benefits were among the complaints.

And the “impact” with the worst optics (and mostly blamed on the administration)?  The Gestapo like tactics of the Park police and the “Barrycades” at national monuments and parks.

More results:

— Sixty-eight percent said the shutdown is a major problem for the country, including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and independents (57 percent).

— Fifty-two percent said Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans to end the shutdown; 63 percent say Republicans aren’t doing enough to cooperate with him.

— Republicans are split on just how much cooperation they want. Among those who do not back the tea party, fully 48 percent say their party should be doing more with Obama to find a solution. But only 15 percent of tea-party Republicans want that outreach. The vast majority of them say GOP leaders are doing what they should with the president, or should do even less with him.

— People seem conflicted or confused about the showdown over the debt limit. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government’s ability to borrow isn’t renewed later this month with an increase in the debt limit — an expectation widely shared by economists. Yet only 30 percent say they support raising the limit; 46 percent were neutral on the question.

I didn’t look into the numbers on the poll, but I’d bet it is a bit Democrat heavy.  That said, it’s interesting that a majority within that poll said Obama isn’t cooperating enough.  That’s right, that’s over half.  Somehow that’s buried in all of this (and yeah, that’s not just ‘about half’, that’s over half).

And the real story within the poll:

Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.

The point?

It seems to me the “blame” is pretty evenly divided.  I guess you can claim the GOP is getting most of it, but when you see an already low presidential approval rating drop by 10 point in the matter of a couple of weeks right in the middle of this nonsense, it’s hard to claim that 53% of the voters aren’t blaming the President.

However, if your messaging is directed toward blaming the GOP, well, you just sort of bury that in the story.

~McQ


When and how will America change this back to the way it is supposed to be?

A glimmer of realization?

Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.

Is this a partisan view?  Yes and no.

As you’d expect, Republicans and Democrats pretty much switch positions depending on who is in the White House.  But the telling line is the Independent line.  It is higher now than it was in the Bush years.

Of course, the pregnant question is, “so what are you going to do about it?”

The answer, if the recent past is any indication, is “not much”.  Probably change the Senate over to the GOP, and possibly, in the next presidential election, change parties again.

And then what?  Again, look at the trend on the graph above.  We’ve changed parties before and yet we still see the power of government continuing to grow.  Will another party change really make any difference?

One other thing to note in passing, take a look at the Democrat line in the last year.   Democrats who think government has too much power are up 13 points.  If I had to guess that is a direct result of the IRS and NSA scandals, ObamaCare and the EPA and other regulatory agencies over-reach.  Anyone who thinks those scandals, new regulations and abuse of power haven’t been significant is living in a dream world or, alternately Maine, which is about the same thing.

~McQ


Americans downbeat about America’s future

Ok, they’re downbeat according to Gallup:

So what?  I mean, this is what I don’t get.  The American public just re-elected possibly the worst and most incompetent president in my lifetime (what the hell do you have to do to get fired?), they refuse to make their leaders face up to the realities of the fiscal situation, they give away freedoms like some universities give away condoms and suddenly they’re “downbeat” about America’s future?

WTH?

They should be downbeat – they as much as anyone have generated the culture that has produced these politicians that they continue to reward with reelection term after term.  If you don’t make those who represent you do what they should be doing, if you continue to reward their kicking the can down the road with re-election, why in the hell should they do anything?  Especially when those who try “die”, politically speaking.

And, of course, you have the compliant press who has no compunction anymore about pursuing an agenda that supports the premise that there is a free lunch and the rich should pay for it.

I’m fed up.

Can you tell?

~McQ


So what would happen if Dems got all they want?

California, of course:

“The California Republican Party is functionally dead. And how is California doing, now that liberals have successfully terminated the state’s remaining conservatives?” #1 in debt, #1 in welfare, #1 in taxing the rich. And hoping for a federal bailout, I suspect. As is Illinois, which is in similar straits for similar reasons. “One-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, despite the fact that California has only one-eighth of the country’s population. That’s four times as many as the next-highest welfare population, which is New York. Meanwhile, California eighth-graders finished ahead of only Mississippi and District of Columbia students on reading and math test scores in 2011.”

You can warn people till you’re blue in the face (no pun intended) how the blue state model is going to end up, but sometimes it is instructive to just let it happen.  Of course that assumes that those observing the train wreck try to understand how it happened and work to avoid it elsewhere.  I’m not so sure that’s the case in this nation.  But fair warning, given the fiscal road we’re on California is as much in our future as Greece:

“For a century or so, guided by brilliant private sector leadership, California was a beacon to the world, a land of opportunity such as never had existed in human history. Unimaginable wealth was created. Yet it required only 40 years of liberal governance to bring the whole thing crashing down. Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty.”

California is a state which has modeled blue government for decades, despite warning of where it’s continuance would lead.

And, shockingly to the left, it has ended up right where it was predicted it would end up.  Yet, they blindly and willfully continue to march along as though the reality will change and economic laws will disprove themselves if they just persist in their actions.

California is our future.  Our near future.  See, it’s pretty much as simple as this:

If a country runs a deficit (as a percentage of GDP) that is equal to its growth rate, the debt level will remain constant. This year U.S. GDP will be a little less than $16 trillion, and its historical growth rate is 3.25%. That works out to what we might call a “safe” deficit of $520 billion, or even $600 billion if you allow for a little inflation. Last year, however, the U.S. deficit was $1.1 trillion — or roughly $500 billion too much.

That gap could be closed by ending all tax cuts, tax breaks and stimulus payments for everyone, according to the Tax Policy Center. But two-thirds of the burden would fall on the middle class — something both political parties want to avoid. All the proposed tax increases on the wealthy, however, even combined with the end of the payroll-tax cut, would raise only $295 billion. So unless there were spending cuts twice as big as the ones currently scheduled, the deficit would still be too large.

Those sorts of cuts aren’t even being discussed.  Imagine, if you would, radical cuts in the size and scope of our current federal government.  Imagine subsidies of all sorts being eliminated.  Imagine backing government out of many of the areas it has no business.  Imagine simplifying the tax code and giving business a warm fuzzy feeling about the business atmosphere by freezing regulation and in some instances rolling them back.  Imagine all of that, because none of it is going to be done.

Instead, the solution is to “tax the rich”.

So let ‘em have it (only if they repeal the Hollywood tax cut).  Tax the rich.  And when it doesn’t work, and it won’t (in fact, I’m not sure what “work” means in this particular case since the amount to be collected is a mere drop in a 1.6 trillion dollar ocean of debt that’s planned each year for the foreseeable future), they’re left with a lot fewer excuses, huh?

Not that they won’t try to point fingers when their grand plan crashes.

Yup, in the end it all looks like we’re headed to California.  Apparently we’re going to have to recreate that debacle on a national level before the blinders come off of the public and the realization that you can’t spend more than you have forever finally sinks in.

Whether or not it will too late to salvage the country at that point, remains to be seen.

~McQ


Why the Right Should Embrace “Fairness” in Entitlement Reform

This is a departure from my previous two posts; it’s not about a particular group that has pulled away from the GOP.  Romney pulled a slightly larger share of older voters than McCain did, even if fewer total turned out than in previous years.  That the Romney-Ryan ticket did this while proposing entitlement reform is a substantial feat, but it did involve watering down the reforms a great deal.  For example, Republicans now make a habit of promising that nobody under age 55 will be affected by their reforms.

Why make this concession when the lion’s share of the fiscal problem is current retirees and the many, many Baby Boomers who will retire soon?  Boomers vote, of course, but what motivates them?  I don’t think most seniors could bring themselves to act on straightforward greed; I think they’re voting based on a particular concept of fairness.

Specifically, they paid into the system over a long career, and they believe they should be able to get back what they paid in.  And even though current Medicare beneficiaries get two to six times as much in benefits as they paid in (if this is right), only about a third of Americans think Medicare beneficiaries get any more than they paid in.  As long as they think that way, they’ll continue to oppose means testing and raising the retirement age by wide margins.

You might be tempted to say that our task is to educate them, but it’s much easier to persuade people based on their current beliefs than to convince them of inconvenient facts first.  Republicans basically conceded that cutting benefits to older voters at all would be unfair, and pushed complicated plans that few people aside from Paul Ryan can competently defend.

But we might be even bolder if we just hugged that core fairness principle tighter.

September’s Reason-Rupe poll (PDF – fixed link) asked Americans if they’d support cuts to their own Medicare benefits “if you were guaranteed to receive benefits at least equal to the amount of money that you and your employer contribute into the system.”  It was a blowout: 68% yes, 25% no.  Three quarters of Tea Partiers said yes.

At a stroke, you could slash Medicare in half with a reform based on that principle.  (Their August 2011 poll suggested similar support for applying the principle to Social Security, but the cuts would be much more modest.)

Centering a reform on that principle achieves steeper cuts and seems easier to defend than what Paul Ryan is trying.  Because if Democrats fought us on it, they’d have to make the wildly unpopular case for entitlements as redistribution programs rather than as “insurance” or “savings.”

The kind of coalition the Right needs for sustainable entitlement reform has to include people who highly value fairness (or, as Jonathan Haidt would call it, proportionality).  If we want the project of liberty to be successful, we have to pluck on other heartstrings.


Final thoughts on today’s vote

John Podhoretz mentions something we’ve been talking about for a while:

If Mitt Romney wins tonight, it’ll likely be because of something revealed by a little-noticed statistic released yesterday by the polling firm Rasmussen — following a similar statistic last week from Gallup.

Rasmussen revealed that for the month of October, its data showed that among likely voters, the electorate is 39 percent Republican and 33 percent Democratic.

This comes from a survey of 15,000 people taken over the course of a month. Yes, 15,000 people —15 times the number in a statistically significant poll.

This number might be discounted, since Rasmussen has a reputation as leaning Republican. Except that last week, Gallup — the oldest and most reputable national pollster — released its party ID survey of 9,424 likely voters. And it came out 36 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat.

I’m not at all comfy with R+6 from Rasmussen. But what should be taken away from this is the fact that two major polling firms have surveyed likely voters extensively and come up with similar results about the mix of self-identified Republicans and Democrats.   And what they’ve found is a profound shift from 2008.

Why does this matter?  Check history:

Because never in the history of polling, dating back to 1936, have self-identified Republicans outnumbered Democrats on Election Day. Never. Ever.

Hmmm.  So indies are breaking for Romney by 7 points, 13% of those who voted for Obama last time say they’re not going to vote for him this time and for the first time since 1936 we’re pretty sure that it is R+something, but Obama is going to win?

Excuse us for being skeptical again, but sometimes the “numbers” just don’t add up.  And, then, as we’ve mentioned, there are the atmospherics, something polling companies really don’t plug into at all.  Sometimes, as in 2010, the gut comes through because the brain has assimilated a lot more than the numbers provided and ends up with a conclusion that is contrary to the conventional wisdom.

I still believe this is one of those times.

~McQ


Prediction time (Update)

If you haven’t read Karl Rove’s analysis of the election, you ought too. Yeah, I know, Rove is partisan and all of that, but, like Michael Barone (who, by the way, has predicted a Romney win), he knows election demographics.

Rove makes a point that seems to be missed by a lot of people or, perhaps, ignored instead:

He maintains a small but persistent polling edge. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama, 47.2%. The GOP challenger was at or above 50% in 10 polls, Mr. Obama in none.

The number that may matter the most is Mr. Obama’s 47.2% share. As the incumbent, he’s likely to find that number going into Election Day is a percentage point or so below what he gets.

Why is that significant?

For example, in 2004 President George W. Bush had 49% in the final Gallup likely-voter track; he received 50.7% on Election Day. In 1996, President Clinton was at 48% in the last Gallup; he got 49.2% at the polls. And in 1992, President George H.W. Bush was at 37% in the closing Gallup; he collected 37.5% in the balloting.

If you can’t get above 47%, and your challenger is running above that number, chances are you aren’t going to win.

Then there are the polling demographics. Remember when I said that if a poll has D+ anything, it is likely wrong? I stand by that:

One potentially dispositive question is what mix of Republicans and Democrats will show up this election. On Friday last week, Gallup hinted at the partisan makeup of the 2012 electorate with a small chart buried at the end of its daily tracking report. Based on all its October polling, Gallup suggested that this year’s turnout might be 36% Republican to 35% Democratic, compared with 39% Democratic and 29% Republican in 2008, and 39% Republican and 37% Democratic in 2004. If accurate, this would be real trouble for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney has consistently led among independents in most October surveys.

So, assuming Gallup is right, and it is R+1 as we’ve been saying is likely here, what does that mean for the polling that’s going on?

Take a look at this handy little chart from RCP:

The chart makes the point about how important it is for the polling company to get the mix correct and the probability that many of them haven’t. If they’re not properly skewed, you aren’t going to get valid results. We know there are still polls being run out there with D+5 and up to D+8. Those were legitimate in 2008.

This ain’t 2008 (and you have to ignore 2010 to believe it is) by a long shot.

Then there’s this:

Gallup delivered some additional bad news to Mr. Obama on early voting. Through Sunday, 15% of those surveyed said they had already cast a ballot either in person or absentee. They broke for Mr. Romney, 52% to 46%. The 63% who said they planned to vote on Election Day similarly supported Mr. Romney, 51% to 45%.

So, what is happening is the Democrats are getting their most motivated voters to the polls early and they’re still running behind the GOP.  If, in fact, that’s the case, then who will the Dems be trying to turn out on Tuesday and how successful will they be?  It all comes down to enthusiasm, doesn’t it?  And as measured, that too resides on the side of the GOP (well, except for the NYT poll, unsurprisingly):

Finally, while looking that that chart, remember that independents have been breaking large toward Romney. More than for any GOP candidate in recent history.  Add all the other demographics that have shifted significant support from Obama in the last election to Romney in this one, not to mention the atmospherics that simply aren’t there for the incumbent and it is difficult to believe that Obama will win.

So, all that said, I’ll predict a Romney win with slightly over 50% and around 279 electoral votes.  I’ll also predict that Nate Silver will be donating $1,000 to charity and David Axlerod’s mustache will be absent Wednesday of next week.

UPDATE: A reminder for all the doubters out there who want to dismiss Rove – In 2008 Karl Rove predicted an Obama win with 338 EVs (actual: 365)

~McQ


Gallup does some myth busting

What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.

One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.

I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.

Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.

Gallup weighs in today with this:

Hmmm.  That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it?  In fact, it’s not even close.   The report says 15% of registered voters have voted.  And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46.  If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort.  Not so hot in either category, huh?

Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.

However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?

And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.

Heh …

~McQ


Why I don’t believe the polls

It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:

In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.

That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)

It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.

When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.

It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong.  If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election.  The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP.  My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.

~McQ


Michael Barone: Slow-motion 1980?

Michael Barone is one of the few poll watchers I respect. I’ve watched him in any number of elections and he’s objectively called it the way he saw it, usually spot on, for whomever the facts indicated was in the lead. No spin, just good analysis.

Well, in this season of polling chaos, Barone is out with his look at some of the key indicators that help him analyze election trends and he seems to think we are seeing a preference cascade begin ala 1980 … just slower:

My other alternative scenario was based on the 1980 election, when vast numbers of voters switched from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan after their single debate one week before the election. In that debate, the challenger showed he had presidential stature and the incumbent president seemed petulant and small-minded.

We saw an even more vivid contrast between challenger and incumbent in the Oct. 3 debate. In the next two debates, Obama was definitely more focused and aggressive. But Romney held his own, and post-Oct. 16 polling showed him improving his standing even though many debate watchers thought Obama won on points.

What we may be seeing, as we drink from the firehose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow-motion 1980.

That reinforces my point about the first debate and something we’ve been saying since Oct. 3. That is the debate that mattered. And note also that in debates 2 and 3, Obama pulled a Carter. His stature was diminished by his actions. He, as Barone and many others have observed, came across as “petulant and small-minded”. Add arrogant and condescending, and you’ve captured it.  Oh, and by the way, his record, like Carter’s, is dismal.

Romney, on the other hand, came across exactly as he had to come across – competent, presidential, confident and, believe it or not, likable. He did what Ronald Reagan did – unfiltered by the media, he was able to convince Americans who tuned in that he was Presidential material. That he was a more than acceptable alternative to Obama.

All of that said, Barone isn’t claiming that this is a done deal by any stretch (“don’t get cocky kid”):

The usual caveats are in order. Exogenous events could affect opinion (Libya seems to have hurt Obama). The Obama ground game is formidable. Voters who switched to Romney could switch back again.

And if there is a larger reservoir of potentially changeable voters than in 2004, there was an even larger reservoir back in 1980, when Carter attracted white Southerners who now are firmly in Romney’s column.

Mechanical analogies can be misleading. Just because Romney has gained ground since Oct. 3 does not guarantee that he will gain more.

But also keep in mind that Romney gained not just from style but from fundamentals. Most voters dislike Obama’s domestic policies and are dissatisfied with the sluggish economy. And now they seem to believe have an alternative with presidential stature.

So, while we apparently have a preference cascade beginning, is it enough?  And will it peak at the right time.  Will it be a slow steady climb to election day?  Will it plateau?  Will it stop short of the majority Romney needs?  Obviously we won’t know that until election night (or, perhaps, the next day).  But suffice it to say, the upward trend is obvious.

How it will play out, however, remains to be seen.

~McQ