Free Markets, Free People
I put the results of a lot of polls up. I also skip a lot of them. I usually skip those that I think are transitory and really don’t mean anything in the long run, such as candidate popularity polls a year out from an election with no settled nominee on one side of the political spectrum. At this point, they change like the wind.
But I also think there are “indicator” polls that are important regardless of when they’re taken in relation to the next national election. Direction of the country is one (satisfaction). Voter enthusiasm is another (most energized). And where the independents fall is a third (they decide elections).
Here’s a fourth “indicator” poll (by Gallup) that should disturb the incumbent president’s campaign greatly:
Throughout 2011, an average of 17% of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is the second-lowest annual average in the more than 30-year history of the question, after the 15% from 2008. Satisfaction has averaged as high as 60% in 1986, 1998, and 2000.
Why is this important? Because politics is a game of perception and in the end, the only perception that matters is the one the voters have both in general and specifically about certain issues and candidates. But it is the general perception that colors voters views on both issues and candidates. And that’s why this poll indicates problems for the president. It is numbers like this that spell election loss to those who’ve been in charge for a term.
The obvious thing the Obama campaign is going to have to do is try to sell the idea that things could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the “savior”. That’s a very difficult job. Because people tend to judge the condition of the country based on their situation and circumstances (or that of family and friends).
Here’s the bottom line for the President’s campaign that no amount of spin will be able to change:
Americans continue to express low levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, rivaling the lowest Gallup has measured in the past 30+ years. That dissatisfaction probably reflects Americans’ economic anguish, and the prospects for considerable improvement in satisfaction are not great unless the economy improves significantly.
Likely or unlikely in the next 11 months?
If I had to guess, and watching the developments around the world, such as Europe as well as the US, I’d say “not very likely”.
Probably not so much fatigue as getting to know Newt and finding out he’s not really the guy many in the GOP want as the presidential nominee. In fact, no one seems to be really capturing the attention of likely GOP voters for more than a month or two without imploding or fading. Gingrich seems to be doing a fade job as Gallup documents:
After enjoying 14- to 15-percentage-point leads over Mitt Romney in early December, Newt Gingrich is now statistically tied with Romney in national Republican preferences for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: 26% for Gingrich vs. 24% for Romney. This follows a steady decline in support for Gingrich in the past 10 days.
My guess is “Getting To Know You” wouldn’t be Newt Gingrich’s favorite song, because the more you know about him and the more you hear him, the less you want this guy anywhere near the Oval Office. And for the man who sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to try to claim conservative credentials is, well, laughable.
So as the press actually vets a candidate (apparently they remembered how after Obama was elected) and voters get to hear more and more from him on issues such as the judiciary (and something about handcuffs) etc., not to mention the fact that he is the consummate and ultimate Washington DC insider, his star begins to twinkle less brightly in the political heavens.
Iowa will be upon us soon. Rumor and a few polls have it that Ron Paul will win that. As someone else mentioned, if he does, that will make Iowa pretty much a farce. Paul cannot get beyond 10 to 11% nationally and winning Iowa won’t change that. What it may do, it that happens, is cast even more doubt on Gingrich’s ability to win in the long run. A Paul win in Iowa will simply make him the latest GOP shooting star.
Romney, however, will plod along and his organization will take Iowa in stride and continue on the long road to the nomination. I’m not saying I want Romney by any stretch, just laying out the facts as I see them. He has built the best organization and ground game. Iowa will not stop or deter his pursuit of the nomination. I won’t go as far as to say his nomination is inevitable. It’s a long way to November. I’m just saying that, barring the entry into the race of the prefect candidate, he probably has the best chance of being the compromise nominee when the convention rolls around. Obviously the primaries will tell, but I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on Iowa.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is seeing what I would consider an expected pushback. When you first see him and hear him you think, “ok, he’s articulate, he debates well, he could take on the incumbent easily and, well, he might not be so bad”. Then you begin to pay attention and hear his ideas and thoughts. And you decide he’s not at all what you’re looking for if you’re really a conservative. He can talk the game, but if you really listen and pay attention to what he’s said in the past, you know he’s about as consistent as Mitt Romney – he just spins his flip-flops better.
That said, the GOP faithful are going to have to realize something – and before I say this, I want it understood it is not an endorsement of any of the above – they’re not going to get the perfect candidate. At some point they’re going to have to pick among those running and back that candidate if they want Barack Obama to begin planning his library. And it may entail holding their collective noses to do so … again.
If anything, that’s the problem with which the entire electorate should be concerned. Look at the incumbent. Look at the challengers. How in the world did we ever get in the shape that they are the only one’s from which we have to pick?
This is important because it has become clear that the populist class warfare approach is how the Democrats intend to focus their national campaign. If what Obama is doing out on the campaign trail right now (and make no mistake about it, he is campaigning) is any indication, they’re going to talk about haves and have nots, try to place the majority in the have not camp and then demonize the haves.
It may not be the best of strategies if this Gallup poll is any indicator:
Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the "haves" and "have nots" than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008.
That last phrase is key. It points to one of the reasons Obama won in 2008. The campaign, while more subtle about it, was able to play off an America which had been convinced enough that such was the case, to provide a divided house – 49% to 49%. Advantage Obama campaign.
This time around? It doesn’t seem to be resonating this time, which may surprise some:
Americans’ views of their own position as "haves" or "have nots" have been remarkably stable, even as the nation’s economic problems have intensified. Still, the finding that fewer Americans now than in 2008 consider U.S. society as divided into "haves" and "have nots" suggests a decreasing — rather than increasing — level of worry about unfair income distribution in the U.S. at this time.
So what’s a populist politician who has committed himself to version 2.0 of the shtick that worked so well the last time to do? Again the good sense of the American people has emerged and the game has changed. Adaptation in politics is key to success. How does an Axlerod, who has obviously helped engineer this return to the old and familiar that served them so well previously view such a poll?
Is it an outlier. Hardly … it’s a poll this organization has been doing for years.
So does this mean the populist class warfare approach is going to backfire on them? That it simply won’t have the resonance it had in 2008? Or is it, more simply, an growing rejection of the Obama administration and what they’ve tried to sell as the “dirty little secret” of our country’s reality?
Even with the bad financial situation, record unemployment and a concerted propaganda effort to demonize the “rich” (not to mention the OWS nonsense), Americans, in growing numbers nonetheless, are rejecting the premise.
That’s got to worry someone in the Obama campaign, wouldn’t you think?
While we’re still a little less than a year out form the 2012 presidential election, there are some disturbing signs for the incumbent. While President Obama seems fine in those traditionally blue states that make up the Democratic base, he isn’t faring as well in the all important swing states which we the difference between defeat and victory in 2008.
It is those states which are likely to determine the winner. Each side starts with a base of over 190 electoral votes (196 for Obama, 191 for the GOP nominee). It is from there they wage campaign war and the final outcome will be determined in 12 states that could go either way.
However, the signs aren’t particularly favorable for Obama and the Democrats in those states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin). Obama took them all last time around and has to take at least half to repeat.
However, per a USA Today poll, that’s not going to be easy:
In swing states, Obama trails former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among registered voters by 5 points, 43% vs. 48%, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich by 3, 45% vs. 48%.
In the swing states, the number of self-identified Democrats (not including those who lean Democratic) fell from 35% to 30% since 2008. The number of independents rose 7 points, 35% to 42%.
But the nation’s ideological makeup creates more stress for Democrats than Republicans. In the 12 swing states identified by USA TODAY, 44% of those surveyed are conservatives, more than double the 21% who call themselves liberal.
And of course that makes independents the most sought after group by both sides. And as many polls have indicated over the last three years, independent voters have been deserting the Democrats in droves.
As mentioned they’re critical to both sides, but Democrats have to capture more of their vote to win than do Republicans:
To win a majority, the GOP needs to attract the lion’s share of conservatives plus only a fraction of the 35% who call themselves moderates.
In contrast, the Democratic candidate has to claim the solid support not only of liberals but also most of the moderates.
The problem with that mix, of course, is that moderates or independents have been deserting the Democrats because of their turn to the liberal side of issues. It is for this reason that the old class warfare meme has been revived. Obviously Obama thinks that’s the bridge that will work.
Two factors I continue to point too are key to the election outcome: enthusiasm and independents. In both areas Democrats are hurting. Ed Morrissey makes another important point:
There’s more bad news for Team Obama as well, which is the nature of head-to-head comparisons while only one party has a contested primary. The GOP has not united behind a single candidate, and the passions of the primary fight will act to depress the results for those candidates. The key here is that Obama can’t get above 45% in these swing states against either candidate, which indicates that the actual general-election results could be significantly worse — perhaps a 10-point loss. After all, Obama himself told CBS that he will be judged against the alternative, and that low polling figure at this stage in swing states bodes ill for Obama in that comparison.
It is still either/or for GOP voters while there’s only one choice for Democrats – and even with the split, Obama trails in those key states. Morrissey is right and the possibility that the real difference in the swing states could be significantly higher once a GOP nominee is decided upon makes sense. Again, bad news for the Obama campaign.
Finally, that critical enthusiasm gap I’ve mentioned before:
And the "enthusiasm gap" that helped fuel a Democratic victory last time has turned into a Republican asset. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president next year, compared with 47% of Democrats.
As for the mix:
Among the most enthusiastic are some of the GOP’s core voters: conservatives, middle-aged men and those 50 to 64 years old. Those who are least enthused include core Democratic groups that were critical to Obama’s election in 2008, including minorities and younger voters.
Why are the Democrats key groups turned off? Here’s a clue:
While the nation’s overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that African-American unemployment actually rose from October to 15.5%. For those 20-24, it was up to 14.2%. The jobless rate for Hispanics was unchanged at 11.4%.
Discouraged voters aren’t likely voters. And the key groups noted can’t be happy with the results of 3 years of Obama – especially with the inflated expectations he created and has been unable to deliver upon.
And, he now has to actually run on a record – that record.
Keep an eye on the swing states in the coming months. And pay particular attention to the polls in those states when the GOP finally decides on a nominee. They will most likely tell the tale of the election well before it is ever held.
Not “big labor” or “big business” or “big oil” or “big pharma”. Not any of the other “bigs” as much as “big government”. And rightfully so in my opinion.
The question is, what are they going to do about it? No, the question is will they do anything about it?
I’m not sure.
Gallup found the fear of big government rising to its highest levels in decades:
Americans’ concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat.
Is America finally realizing the drag the government is putting on the economy with the level of debt it is carrying and the fact that the profligate spending continues? Is it waking up to the fact that government is way to involved in our daily lives? Is America realizing that government isn’t the answer and many times the problem (despite President Obama’s best effort to spin the opposite as true?)?
I can’t say, but I can say that this rise in fear of big government is a good thing and perfectly in line with what would or should typify the American character. The problem, however, is to be found in the specifics. We’ve detailed, in numerous posts, the rise of the entitlement culture that has grown up among us supposed “rugged individualists”. While the character trait seems to still exist as polls like this point out, are Americans really willing to see their piece of the entitlement pie – and most receive something – go away in any effort to trim the size of government?
That’s the real concern.
More from the survey:
Almost half of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to the nation, more than say so about big business, and far more than were concerned about big government in March 2009. The 32% of Democrats concerned about big government at that time — shortly after President Obama took office — was down significantly from a reading in 2006, when George W. Bush was president.
Democrats who fear big government are up by 16 points to 48%. This rise has been on Obama’s watch. And their fear of big business has dropped 8 points from 52% to 44%.
The real story, as usual, is independents. Their fear of big government has risen 5 points to 64%. How well, then, do you think the Obama campaign message of even bigger government (to save the middle class, of course) is playing?
Additionally, while Occupy Wall Street isn’t necessarily affiliated with a particular party, its anti-big business message may not be resonating with majorities in any party. Republicans, independents, and now close to half of Democrats are more concerned about the threat of big government than that coming from big business.
That should tell you what kind of impact OWS is having. As mentioned, Democratic fear of big business has dropped 8 points. If ever there was a sympathetic constituency, you’d think it would be the Democrats. And they simply aren’t buying into the OWS premise.
I keep finding polls like this both hopeful and disturbing. Hopeful in that it seems that the healthy American trait of fear big government still lives in the majority of its people. That’s demonstrated in another poll by Rasmussen addressing the health care law:
Most voters still want to repeal the national health care law, even though they tend to believe the law won’t force them to change their own health insurance coverage.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law passed by Congress in March 2010, while 35% at least somewhat oppose repeal. The intensity remains on the side of the law’s opponents since these findings include 42% who Strongly Favor repeal versus 26% who are Strongly Opposed.
What disturbs me is how little those who we put in power seem to understand that or attempt to work toward addressing that fear.
The question remains, if indeed the vast majority of Americans fear big government, what are they going to do about addressing that fear. Obviously what has been tried to this point hasn’t worked. What’s the alternative?
If you’ve noted a general tendency to ignore the run for the presidency and all the nonsense that includes here at QandO, you’re an astute observer. It’s just silly right now, especially on the Republican side. Cain is up, Cain is down. Romney is the front runner, Romney is an also ran. Paul is a side show, Paul surges. Gingrich is out of it, Gingrich is the man.
When all the dust settles I’ll renew my interest. However, all of what has been happening has had an effect. Gallup reports:
Republicans’ enthusiasm about voting in the election for president next year has decreased, with 49% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now saying they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, down from 58% in September. This narrows the gap between them and Democrats, 44% of whom are more enthusiastic than usual, essentially the same as in September.
Of course the mitigating circumstances are outlined in my lede. Without a single nominee and with the daily barrage of negativity, voters are turning off. That doesn’t mean they won’t turn back on when that nominee is named (regardless of which of the bunch he is) as Gallup further notes:
The decrease in Republicans’ enthusiasm could reflect the intensive and bruising battle for the GOP nomination going on within the party, and the rapid rise and fall of various candidates in the esteem of rank-and-file Republicans nationwide. Once the Republican nominee is determined next year, Republicans’ voting enthusiasm may steady, but whether this is at a high, medium, or low level remains to be seen.
But this is a key component of predicting who will eventually win the White House so stay tuned to this particular poll on enthusiasm throughout the campaign.
Meanwhile, before Democrats start celebrating the narrowing of the gap (even temporarily), they may want to consider this next poll:
President Obama’s uphill battle to re-election is getting steeper.
A report released today by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.
“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”
Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.
Of course the flight of independents from Democrats has been noted for quite some time. Fewer and fewer are identifying with or leaning toward the Democratic side.
“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”
So Jarding has a grasp of the obvious. Good. He then says:
“On paper, it looks like, ‘Well, it’s just going to be bad for Obama,’ but a part of me says, ‘Bad in what sense?’ He’s proven that he can get independent voters,” Jarding said.
He’s proven he can get independent votes with no resume and nothing but an emotionally appealing campaign based on absurd promises and bashing an unpopular president.
Now he’s the guy with the negative approval rating and a record he has to defend. Whole different ballgame. Whole different stadium. It is more than a problem “on paper”.
“People are very, very disillusioned and the danger for Obama is when people are disillusioned and when they are hurting they tend to throw the guy in power out,” Jarding said. “If Obama can’t turn out the vote that he did in 2008, he’s in trouble.”
He’s in trouble, which, for the most part, is a good thing.
I’m not much of a Paul Begala fan, but in fact, like a blind pig will eventually find an acorn, he’s gotten this one right. Why is Newt Gingrich in ascension? Well because the ABR crowd’s latest candidate, Herman Cain, imploded.
ABR you ask? Anybody But Romney.
More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze (count the pedantic historical references I use in Newt’s honor!)—with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.
Mitt Romney has been running for president nonstop for about five years now. And he has gone from 25 percent in the 2007 Iowa caucuses to 18 percent in the latest Bloomberg poll of Iowa voters. He’s the Harold Stassen of 2012. Face it, Mitt: they’re just not that into you.
Republicans, apparently, will date anyone before they’ll marry Mitt. Remember their brief fling with Donald Trump? Then, after he decided not to throw his hair into the ring, they fell for Michele Bachmann, the Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya of the far right. Then it was Rick Perry—the guy who claims he jogs with a loaded gun (without a safety) tucked into his shorts. And now that they’ve tired of Herman Cain’s, umm, hands-on style of leadership, it’s Newt’s turn.
Begala’s point is fairly obvious but true.
However, there’s a very important point to be made despite that. A recent poll found that Obama, Romney and Gingrich are statistically tied in the swing states. Romney, as Begala and others point out, isn’t even the consensus GOP pick. In fact, the GOP voters are willing to look at everyone else to see if any of them provide a suitable replacement for Romney. And even the candidate they’d prefer to replace Romney with is tied with the incumbent Democrat.
That isn’t good news for Democrats if you think about it. If the guy that is the last pick of the GOP faithful (or so it seems) is able to tie the incumbent president in swing states, how bad will it be when the GOP (and supporters) finally pick one candidate and get behind him (even Romney)?
Begala thinks Gingrich would be a “gift” to Democrats. He’s right to an extent. But the Republican’s gift is sitting in the White House right now. He actually has to run on a record this time, and it’s not an enviable record. While it is true that Republicans are still trying to find their man (or woman), there are indicators such as that poll that say that regardless of who they choose, even if it is a baggage laden Gingrich, Obama has big trouble.
So far those like Paul Begala choose to ignore that point. Their intent now is to attack the GOP candidates personally as they’ve always done in the past (remember Begala comes from the Clinton campaign where the politics of personal destruction were raised to an art form) and hope they manage to demonize the Republican pick enough to let their guy slip by. It’s about the only hope they have.
Gingrich will provide a target rich opportunity there. But, given the incumbent, will it be enough? I’m not so sure. I’m certainly not convinced that Gingrich will prevail, but I do think that Democrats right now are either in denial or simply not aware of how deep the electoral trouble is that their candidate is in. Whoever the GOP chooses, he will not play John McCain to this election year’s Barack Obama.
While everything is mostly focused on the GOP and their interminable debate cycle, at some point, Obama has to step out of the shadows and actually begin his run. That’s when the real games will begin, and I’m not sure the Democrats yet understand that much of the fire the GOP candidates are now receiving will shift to Obama when that happens.
It ain’t gonna be pretty when it does.
Apparently the public has seen and read enough about Occupy Wall Street to make up its mind that it isn’t something it supports.
According to a Public Policy Polling survey, support for OWS has dropped rapidly as more and more reports detail theft, violence, rape, and all sorts of other anti-social behavior (such as defecating in the street) among its participants.
Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement’s support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street’s goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.
Note again the all important demographic (independents) in which the big switch has occurred. Democrats who’ve hitched their wagon to OWS should begin deserting it like rats deserting a sinking ship when they see these results.
As for the claim that OWS is more popular than the Tea Party? Yeah, not so much:
Tea Party 43%, Occupy Wall Street 37%. Last month, Occupy Wall Street had a narrow advantage of 40%-37%.
Again the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40.
That said, the issue OWS supposedly represents is still alive and well even if it is a misinformed position:
I don’t think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality. Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the ‘Buffett rule’ with only 16% opposed. And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don’t think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street’s image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the ‘Occupy’ than the ‘Wall Street.’ The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.
This is most likely true since most people don’t understand that the economics of earnings isn’t a zero sum game. On the one hand the left has done a good job of selling the idea that income inequality is important and can be solved through higher taxes on the so-called or relatively “rich”.
Of course that’s nonsense. That said, OWS is now more of a detriment than a asset to that cause if this poll is to be believed. And that means the usual thing for politicians with their fingers firmly in the political wind – those who have embraced the OWS protestors will be trying to find a way to desert and then denounce the rabble.
OWS will linger – today they’re going to try to rally in NYC on Wall Street – but I’d argue we’ve seen the movement’s high tide. I will now recede into a mere annoying shadow of itself as support is withdrawn by political figures and organizations. And, of course, you can count on participants getting even more desperate to rally support and I think we all know what that means. More excess, more stupidity, less support.
I say good riddance.
A couple of polls have emerged since the charges of sexual harassment by Herman Cain, a GOP presidential candidate, were first surfaced by POLITICO. The reason the two polls are meaningful is they essentially address the same issue and come to much the same conclusion.
That is, the personal behavior of candidates matters to voters. But, as I’ve observed it over the years, it means less to some voters than others. Oh, by the way, when asked a question about morality, how do you suppose most people will respond? Just sayin’.
But with those caveats let’s take a look. First the Reuters/Ipsos poll:
The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.
Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.
The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.
A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.
Now I’m not sure yet how anyone can flatly say or believe the allegations are “true” based on what has so far been revealed about the alleged harassment. So far the most we know is that 3 women claim to have been victims of “sexual harassment” and two were paid a sum to settle some sort of harassment claims. And we’ve had one, through her lawyer, anonymously announce she stands by her allegations. But what exactly are those allegations. Are they of the Bob Packwood variety? Or the Bill Clinton variety. Right now we just don’t know.
While one might conclude that something went on then, it still isn’t clear that the allegations are “true”. For instance, one could ask, was it cheaper for the Restaurant Association to pay off these women (most likely without admitting any guilt) than to pay armies of lawyers to fight the charges? We don’t know. And that sort of doubt and uncertainty casts any thoughts of “the allegations are true” out the window. We need a lot more information to put “true” or “false” to this.
But look at the effect it has had. The unfortunate result of politics today. This is hardly uncommon.
The second poll was taken by The Hill.
The results of this week’s The Hill Poll indicate that 85 percent of voters regard the way a politician conducts his or her private life as important to how he or she might discharge public duties. Forty-seven percent regard the candidate’s private life as “very important” and 38 percent say it is “somewhat important” in this regard.
The Hill Poll also suggests that 67 percent of voters feel presidential politics have become dirtier over the past generation, while a mere 4 percent say they have become cleaner. Roughly 1 in 4, or 27 percent, believe the ethical nature of presidential battles has stayed about the same as it was in the past.
Those two points sort of explain the politics of personal destruction. Now I’m again not saying Herman Cain isn’t guilty of sexual harassment. I simply don’t know at this point. But I think the results in the poll point out why such allegations surfaced. I’m of the opinion politics have gotten “dirtier” in the past generation and I think the reason is found in the first paragraph. It is an easy way to knock out a contender or a threat. Its that simple.
Politicians will drop to the lowest level of politicking in heart-beat if they perceive a benefit to them in doing so. And in the last generation we’ve seen leaps of light years in mass communications. It is much easier to get things like these allegations (with little factual support to this point) out there and going viral.
It’s a bit like the utility of saying something in court you know the judge is going to strike down if you’re a lawyer. The judge may order it stricken from the record and tell the jury to disregard what was said, but we all know you can’t do that no matter how the judge insists. The statement just lays there. Once out of the jar, it can’t be put back in.
Secondly, this sort of an allegation has a tendency to have a weird bandwagon effect. Remember Tiger Woods and his infidelity? As soon as the name of one woman surfaced, women from all over raised their hands and said “me too”! I’m not alleging Cain is like Woods, I’m just pointing out a phenomenon that’s fairly common. In the case of Cain, these allegations may bring others out who may or may not have a valid claim, but whose mere surfacing will lend credibility to the former allegations.
Again, a technique that’s been used successfully in the past in all sorts of ways.
Which brings me to the question, where did these allegations come from. I know they were published in a story by POLITICO, but few if any reporters sniff out stuff like this. They’re usually handed a tip by someone. Cain’s campaign immediately claimed it was Rick Perry’s campaign. The usual denials took place and the Cain campaign backed off.
Cain’s campaign knew this was coming 10 days before it was published. They did absolutely nothing to address it or try to diminish its impact. That either speaks of political naivety or the belief that there was no substance to the reported allegations (which brings us back to point one about political naivety). Consequently when it hit, it hit hard and the polls show the result. For someone, I’d guess, that was the desired result.
Oh, and one more little fact from the Hill poll that is a huge factor in all of this:
News organizations are viewed poorly in terms of political neutrality and their broader ethical conduct.
Gee, there’s a surprise, no?
It will be interesting to see whether Cain can weather these allegations and regain his momentum. But the fact that he’s battling nebulous allegations of decades old sexual harassment claims certainly gives me an idea of the type of campaign we’ll witness in the coming 12 months.
If you thought it was dirty out there in politics land before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
UPDATE: The bandwagon effect.
Very interesting survey concerning ObamaCare. Kaiser Family Foundation does a monthly tracking poll. Their October poll yielded some surprise results. Note that this comes as we have been learning more and more about the details of the ObamaCare law:
- After remaining roughly evenly split for most of the last year and a half, this month’s tracking poll found more of the public expressing negative views towards the law. In October, about half (51%) say they have an unfavorable view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), while 34 percent have a favorable view, a low point in Kaiser polls since the law was passed. While Democrats continue to be substantially more supportive of the law than independents or Republicans, the change in favorability this month was driven by waning enthusiasm for the law among Democrats, among whom the share with a favorable view dropped from nearly two-thirds in September to just over half (52%) in October.
- Americans are more than twice as likely this month to say the law won’t make much difference for them and their families as they are to say they’ll be better off under the law. Forty-four percent say health reform won’t make much difference to them personally, up from 34 percent in September. Meanwhile 18 percent say they and their families will be better off, down from 27 percent last month. (The share who thinks they’ll be worse off personally held steady at roughly three in ten, where it has been since the law passed in 2010.) Here, too, changes in views among Democrats helped shape the overall change.
That’s a bit of a sea-change on the Democratic side.
It’s also significant for another reason. It makes the case for repeal stronger. While Republicans have always been against it, that’s been fairly easy for Democrats to wave off. Indies are a little harder to wave off. But when other Democrats are less supportive of the law, to the point that fewer and fewer have an favorable view of the law, well that makes it increasingly harder for Democrats to justify keeping it.
Something is causing their support to erode and the GOP needs to figure out what it is and use it to make their case.
As election time nears, this is an issue they can use as a secondary one to the economy. It was unpopular when it passed. It has remained mostly unpopular and, with this sort of poll, we see the unpopularity expanding into Democratic ranks. It appears it is something the GOP could get majority consensus on.