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Before political analysts start assigning blame and credit for victory and defeat in the 2010 elections, the first thing they should do is read about Brendan Nyhan’s excellent "tactical fallacy" concept.  In short, the tactical fallacy states that the broader political climate is the primary factor in the outcome of elections, and tactical decisions about messaging, deployment of resources, organizing efforts, and ideological positioning are secondary. A good follow-up on Nyhan’s piece is Ezra Klein’s "It’s Always the Economy, Stupid." Klein’s piece has much the same thrust as Nyhan’s, but puts some persuasive numbers behind it.

The Tactical Fallacy is a refutation of the all too common "Great Man" theory of recent political history. The "Great Man" genre goes like this: Candidate, Consultant, or Party Leader X made a genius decision about messaging, deployment of resources or ideological positioning that was almost wholly responsible for winning. By contrast, Candidate, Consultant, or Party Leader Y made an idiotic decision about messaging, deployment of resources or ideological positioning that was almost wholly responsible for defeat. In this view, elections are ultimately about the genius and idiocy of a handful of people playing a game of Stratego.

In this article, I am going to look at a second common mistake in assigning blame or credit for electoral outcomes, similar to the Tactical Fallacy. I call it the "Ubiquitous Political Junkie Fallacy." This concept, (which I originally described as a fantasy) is the assumption the people who decide elections--swing voters and unlikely voters--know legislative policy minutia like the back of their hands. It further assumes that swing voters and unlikely voters vote--or don’t--based upon the difference between public policy that was enacted and their abstract, desired policies.

The Ubiquitous Political Junkie Fallacy occurs when people who spend a lot of time consuming and taking part in politics project their own motives onto people who rarely consume news and / or participate in electoral politics. Here are two common, and equally invalid, ways the Ubiquitous Political Junkie Fallacy is expressed:

  1. Claims that moderate and Independent voters have turned against the extremist policies of the governing party. You are going to hear this claim a lot after the November elections, especially from Republicans and center-right Dems. It's only fair, I guess, as Dems made the same argument in 2006 and 2008.
  1. Claims that Democrats had turnout problems because their voters were not satisfied, in the abstract, with policies that Democrats either did or did not pass. You know these claims: the base is depressed because health reform lacked a public option, and / or because many legislative initiatives (LGBT, immigration, climate and energy) didn’t pass at all. The right-wing of the Republican Party made very similar claims in 2008, too.

Like Nyhan’s Tactical Fallacy, these Ubiquitous Political Junkie Fallacies are extremely commonplace among political pundits and activists. To put it as bluntly as I can, they are both just flat-out wrong as descriptions of the major forces behind elections.  The truth is that few swing voters and unlikely voters are focused on, or even have much knowledge of, legislative and policy details. As such, elections are not generally decided on people’s abstract positions on policy.

Take the 2009-2010 health care debate. Despite being the most closely followed legislative campaign in decades, public awareness of the details of the bill was always pretty low, according to the Kaiser tracking poll. Further, when Gallup asked Americans an open-ended question about why they supported or opposed the health care bill, very few of the responses were policy-focused. In fact, only 5% of the country cited either the public option or reproductive rights as their reason for favoring or opposing the bill, even though those two topics were daily hot-button topics in the media and among activists..

When people were asked to explain their positions, unprompted with scripted responses, almost all of the support or opposition to health reform was generalized. Most responses were like "we have a moral obligation to provide health care," "too many people are uninsured," "it’s socialist," or "I oppose big government." Discussions of specific policies were almost entirely absent.

So, the public was generally unaware of the details of the most closely followed legislative campaign in decades. Further, the public generally did not base its support or opposition to that legislation on what was actually in the legislation. As such, it simply isn’t plausible that swing and unlikely voters--who tend to be lower consumers of news than the electorate as a whole--are basing their voting habits on their opinion of any legislative policy details in the abstract.

Rather than the electorate being filled to the brim with ideologically coherent policy wonks who voraciously consume political news, it is far more plausible that the swing and unlikely voters act on the perceived outcomes of the governing party’s public policy. That is, when things either suck or are awesome, most swing and unlikely voters will blame it on the policies of the governing party, whatever those policies are and however much those voters know about those policies. As a result, swing voters will turn against the governing party, believing that it is time to give the most visible alternative set of policies a try. Meanwhile, unlikely voters that favor the opposition party see a reason to get involved again, while unlikely voters that favor the governing party get discouraged.

Swing and unlikely voters are acting on the perceived outcomes of the governing party’s public policy, not on their exhaustive knowledge of public policy in the abstract. This isn’t to say that arguments over public policy details don’t matter. They absolutely matter, and matter huge. For one thing, activists, also known as the people who supply political candidates and parties with the resources to reach out to swing and unlikely voters, do care about policy details. If you want the resources to win elections, you need to appeal to your activists.

More importantly, the details of public policy actually affect people’s lives. You are not going to get re-elected if most people think their lives have gotten worse under you. Hell, you probably won’t get re-elected even if most people thought things sucked when you came into office, but haven’t gotten any better. Why would they? It is entirely rational to vote out the people in charge if things are getting worse, or if things suck and aren’t getting better. That just makes sense, at least superficially.

If Democrats get booted in November, it will not be primarily because of poor tactical execution of their campaign messaging and resources. That is the Tactical Fallacy. Further, if Democrats get booted in November, it will not be primarily because people opposed the details of their public policy in the abstract, or that they were let down by not passing more. That is the Ubiquitous Political Junkie fallacy. Sure, tactics matter and appealing to activist wonks matter, but they are not usually the main cause of electoral victory or defeat. More often than not, if you lose, then you just didn’t enact public policy that helped enough people by the time of the election. This is especially the case in landslide election years, as 2010 shaping up to be.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:00 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good essay (18+ / 0-)

    It's quite audacious to publish this in a forum that, for all of its amazing strengths and intellectual vigor, lives and breathes by the tactical fallacy.  But, as a colleague of Nyhan's in the poli sci discipline, I appreciate seeing bits of actual accumulated knowledge occasionally brought into the conversation.  I'll be interested to see what sort of conversation this engenders.

    In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

    by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:06:52 PM PDT

  •  So Dems are doomed and there is nothing they (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, KHinSF

    can do about it because the economy is shit and they're blamed for it.

    •  Wrong conclusion. (11+ / 0-)

      Right conclusion: Getting clear about just what the obstacles are is of enormous help in avoiding losing big.

      And that, whether or not it comports well with the narrative the obamaisalwayswrong crowd wants us to believe.

      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

      by punditician on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:12:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also the wrong conclusion. The right one is: (10+ / 0-)
        It's really the policy that determine whether the economy is bad, stupid!

        If you want to win, you better pass effective policies that will make the economy good enough so that you can win. That's not a left, right or middle argument. Its not one about the president. Its one explicitly growing out of policy.

        Your obsession with the president is typical. Someone says "the stimulus was not big enough." Some one else answers "You hate the president." The president is only as relevant as far as its a policy he led on. Not because he's Obama.  Not because one hates the president. But because, in terms of accountability, he pushed for the legislation at the level of stimulus we got.

        Now, we see the economic consequences of that. From that economic consequence, comes the voter reaction. The reaction isn't about whether one is left, right or center. Its  simply reaction to "Hey, I am still suffering."

        •  hahahaha! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          askew

          It's funny because of the false words you put in my mouth.

          I completely agree the stimulus was too small, for example. Shitty that we were barely able to get the one we got through Congress.

          I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

          by punditician on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:33:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But aren't there equally important (0+ / 0-)

          electoral considerations? For example, say the economy sucks, but I vigorously scapegoat Mexicans and guest workers and Arabs? It's their fault that the economy sucks, and the other guy's in their swarthy pockets. Only I will save America from this evil tide!

          In difficult economic times, these arguments might be as powerful as effective policies, no?

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:41:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, populism can rise from the right as much (7+ / 0-)
            as from the left. This has been true throughout American history. The lesson, however, from that is to nip this in the bud you must craft effective policies that will address the economic issues and from those policies messages that will counter the right wing allure.

            FDR managed to do just that. He was trying to avoid the extremism that could be found on both side- i.e. avoiding the right wing populists of the time or the communists on the other side.  However, I think at base, what mattered was that he relieved suffering rather than telling people to  weather the pain while they can see policies are not helping them.

            That's why you fight to define populism from the left rather than the right before those feelings set in in the general population.

            To do that, you need effective policy. The president can not and nor can other Democrats simply rely on speeches because they are the party in charge right now. Its a harder sell than when it was Bush and the GOP in charge.  This just arises out of the common sense reality that we are the governing party. You can't argue what you were able to argue when you weren't. Its the same kind of electoral common sense that tells me going around to proclaim "the press is not telling you the good news. The economy is better and our policies are better than you think." is a mistake.

            People are suffering. Telling them, or even inferring by talking about the "good news" as if its enough, is not a way to address them regarding gaining their votes. BUt, that's just my opinion.

            •  I'm not talking explicitly about (0+ / 0-)

              populism, really, as much as wondering if I believe this: "If you want to win, you better pass effective policies that will make the economy good enough so that you can win."

              I think there are probably alternatives to good government, at least in the short term (and as someone said below, this is all determined by the short term). Not good ones, perhaps, but if we agree that frothing with xenophobic hysteria can be an effective alternative to passing effective policies, then perhaps the technical fallacy is slightly fallacious.

              "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

              by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:55:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Its complicated (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slinkerwink, shaharazade
                I think it works on a portion of the population that's not the Democratic base. Thus, I should say, it can't work for us, and frankly, it really can't work enough for the right. It can work in isolated areas of the country, but I don't think they could run Tea Party candidate in CA just to name one race where I don't think the strategy would work.
        •  What if you can't do it in 2 years (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GussieFN, Egalitare, sharonsz, FiredUpInCA

          What if the problem that was inherited is so bad that it simply can't be fixed in two years?
          That is the question that I perceive here.
          You can opt to rescue the economy in such a way that provides a long term basis for recovery,
          or you can attempt to give tax cuts to rich and big companies in hopes that it will spur a new boom that will last long enough for you to get out of office. It sounds like a bad deal for Americans.

          •  I think that's the question. (5+ / 0-)

            And sounds to me like the answer is, 'If you can't deliver in the short term, you're screwed.'

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:49:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, it means you frame it differently from the sta (8+ / 0-)
              start. We are fighting to get you the best policies we can, and then you actually fight (as clinton did with the tax hike issue- one of the few times he did- the best policy you can and let the chips fall where they may. You set up a system that allows you to engage in this fight by changing procedural rules.). Then every time you can for the next 18 months you mention conservatives are blocking you, and that the bills are conservative because conservatives are blocking you. You frame the policies as conservative. Etc. So, when it comes time for elections, you have made it clear- that the economy is something you are trying to fight to change, but for the GOP getting in your way and your proof is your actual leadership . Then you can go to the public asking them to send a message to the GOP that they need to stop obstructing you. As it is, none of that is set up. You have only the policies you claimed were going to work, which you knew were going to be half ass, to run on. That's how I view this at least.
              •  But that's just narrative, messaging, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chrisfs, 3goldens

                and ideological positioning. That's all tactical.

                (I agree with everything you said, actually: I'm just trying to figure my way though this.)

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:57:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •   its not just messaging or tactical (10+ / 0-)
                  its policy in the sense that you are actually trying to govern a different way. This different governing will not be all loses.

                  Messaging and tactical to me is where you  are strictly giving speeches, and not going to the mat for what you are saying.

                   For example, on cutting the tax cut for the wealthy (something I agree with the president on) he refused recently to say he would veto a bill that did not include ending tax cut for the wealthy. That's more than just tactical- that's making a policy choice if he said that.  A way of governing with a policy battle he can win.

                  He's saying something as far as policy. Some of these battles Ia m assuming he will o ut right win. Some he will lose. But he will achieve the policies over time that will allow him to continue to win.

                  If , for example, he had pushed for a stimulus, and the GOP blocked it, he probably would have gotten a second chance at a stimulus that was bigger. If he had pushed for

                  Again this is just my perception of some battles where the dems stood up and the public subsequently joined the Dems in agreement.

                  The same with other issues like Wall Street reform or the PO. I don't think the stimulus would have been dead if he didn't get it the first time. I think the stimulus was dead when he asked for less, and then claimed it was enough when it clearly wasn't. I think if he had fought and lost the first round that would have set up a bigger battle in the public eye. But again that's  looking at things like the Clinton tax hike or the government shut down.

              •  Obama worked for the best policies they could (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                v2aggie2, sharonsz

                I think the Administration went for the best policies that they could get passed. In return, they were massively criticized by Jane Hamsher and supporters for not passing single payer, by others for not passing better econ policies, climate policies, etc etc.

                •  Lincoln, Nelson, Bayh and the Blue Dogs (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  3goldens

                  Lincoln and the Blue Dogs might be a better example than the Obama administration.

                  Instead of pushing policies to help the economy and their constituents, they played clever games assuming their voters were political junkies, opposing Obama and the Democrats in their own attempt at triangulation. But their waffling isn't turning out to be the brilliant strategy they thought it would be.

                  Actually, I'd think that would be good test of this theory. If the Blue Dogs do succeed in keeping their seats by clever positioning, then the political junkie is more than just a fallacy.

                •  No, they expressly did not (6+ / 0-)
                  He wanted 80 votes out of the Senate. The GOP expressly stated even before 2009 that they intended to obstruct through its various surrogates. Historically we knew that's how the GOP reacted to the Dems in leadership from the 90s and in other areas such as appointment of judges. There was no reasonable way he could think 80 votes was going to produce the best policy he could get.  Look, I will put it the same way I have read it: the problem with the president is that in early 2008 he started his campaign on one thing, but by late 2008, the world as we knew it changed with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. He didn't come to terms with that reality or the GOP for what it is. Wanting 80 votes is representative of that issue. This issue is not like climate change or single payer. Those are two issues that have a longer arch for determining effectiveness than the overall state of the economy when one knows the election cycle is every 2 years.
            •  I think it's not quite that bad (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chrisfs

              I think that the average voter won't just way the question of whether things are worse or better but also what chance they think the future holds for something better or worse. So, even if the economy remained stagnant, if there was at least the perception that a return to good times was in the offing than they will stick with the Dems. I thought we had a good chance on that count a few months back, but then the recovery stalled (due, in no small part, to the intransigence of Republicans on further stimulus). This really leaves things up in the air.

          •  you commit to an understandable program (7+ / 0-)

            and keep talking about it, so people know you are working on their behalf. keep them posted on how implementation is going and what the obstacles are. do your best to help them with whatever tools are available.

            and, if you have a program like HAMP, you make sure it works for people.

            and you hire the right economics team.

            An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

            by mightymouse on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:01:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Zero for three ain't bad! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mightymouse

              Oh, wait. It is bad....

              For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

              by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:54:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And you use the bully pulpit, damn it. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mightymouse

              You get out there in front of things and you hammer away at it every damned day.  You give fiery speeches and point fingers at the obstructionists.  You hammer them on the stupid things they say and you explain why they're stupid.  You have to make yourself louder than Rush Limbaugh and the Glenn Beck.

              I do not understand why the bully pulpit has not been used until the last week.  I just don't get it.

              It's not about explaining policy or tactical maneuvers, it's about telling the truth loudly and often.

              "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

              by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:59:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  An interesting hypothetical (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            congenitalefty

            but in the current case, the people did their own math: to employ 10 million at 50k per year costs 500 billion.

            Much more than that went to Mega Banks.

            It's simple. Obama chose Wall Street over Main Street.

            Now Main Street will have their say in November.

            For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

            by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:57:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, in part (0+ / 0-)

          Passing better policies that will make things better helps a lot. But, if you can't get the policies passed and things don't get better, you will get blamed for it. But, if you do manage to get something passed and there is the feeling that at least things might get better and you still remember that the previous guys were really really bad at this governing thing, than you might still have a change.

          I think Obama and company made the calculated decision that winning a marginal victory was better than losing a morally superior fight. We shall see if they were right.

          •  except those aren't the only options (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Paul Goodman, zedaker
            if you limit the options of how to win, then of course what he did makes sense. If you realize there are more options for winning as far as policy outcomes are concerned than playing essentially the inside the belt way game, then you change up the game a bit. Missing from the list of what is "possible" is what you go to the bully pulpit to win through direct appeal to the American public. If after losing initially to get the higher stiimulus he had went to the American public to say the GOP and conservatives are obstructing and causing you pain, my instinct is that he would have gotten the same result as clinton when clinton made that point in the 90s about the government shut down.
          •  you can't get them passed if (4+ / 0-)

            you never try. when you sell the public on something and then hand them something less without even fighting for what you sold them, they notice the bait and switch.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:36:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  if that is so they chose wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slinkerwink

            and they (and we) will pay the price.

            And still we wait for Dem leadership that knows how to win.

            An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

            by mightymouse on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 04:47:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  If you want to pass (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nowhere Man, sharonsz

          effective policies that will make the economy good enough, then you'll need to elect more and better Democrats. 22 months is not enough time to fix the mess Bush and Cheney left for this President to clean up.
          Republicans will do nothing to make the economy better - their goal is to bring down this President. Period.

        •  You have been consistently peddling these (0+ / 0-)

          baseless claims that no effective policy has been passed in the last two years. You are obviously fooling some people but I wonder if you are not fooling yourself as well. The size of the stimulus was not enough to bring back all jobs lost in two years? If that would be your belief and given that the only key economic indicator that is left behind and causing distress to ordinary people is unemployment then you must believe that there is a magic number of billions or trillions of dollars of debt that would have not just stopped recession dead in its tracks but that would have added 8 million jobs in the space of 2 years so that everybody would now be happy and vote Dem. If you really believe that then you are far gone. Even Krugman would not put his head in the block and suggest that he knows the level of stimulus that would have produced full employment in 2 years. It is easy to suggest that it was small and not enough when it didn't produce miracles because that is an easy metric for people to understand but dishonest in that no Economist can say for sure whether a bigger one would have worked or not. There are just too many variables.

          But flame away and continue to lie about no effective policies having been passed as it fits with your agenda. Of course 4 to 8 ears down the line when America is strong and prosperous again you will join in with the Rovians to bring back the Republicans to take things backwards again. You will as usual find something to be disgusted about in Dems. Your ilk have done it time and time again. Clinton delivered a healthy economy and the Republicans were ushered back in because people like you wouldn't give credit where it matters.

          scientia potentia est - Francis Bacon "...knowledge itself is power."

          by factPlusContextAlmostTruth on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 04:52:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I wouldn't say "nothing" (6+ / 0-)

      Even the scholars who most heavily push the "structural factors trump tactics" argument -- and I'd put myself in that category -- leave room for campaign effects.  The playing field is far more constricted, on account of the underlying conditions, than most political junkies realize -- but there are always several races that will be won or lost based on idiosyncratic factors such as campaign tactics.  And, in a closely divided Senate like this one, "several races" could be the difference between a minor setback and utter misery.

      In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

      by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:14:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, but if the average (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cardinal, sancerre2001, zedaker

        race is severely constricted, a) how constricted are we talking? 90% structural, 10% tactical? Because most races are won or lost within a fairly constricted range. If tactical considerations only sway races 3%, and a quarter of races are won or lost within 3% range, then tactical decisions decide a quarter of races.

        But more than that ... doesn't this argue that we should focus even more on tactics? We're screwed with structure, so it's incumbent upon us to harness every ounce of tactical advantage?

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:29:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lower level races are much more subject (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cardinal

        to "great leader" effects because those races provide a better opportunity for voters to actually see the "great leader" in action. That is why, even in negative years for one party, there are usually one or two cases where a member of that party defies the odds and wins even in the middle of their party's collapse.

        But, at the aggregate level of a 432(?) congressional seats, the "great leader" effect is much less pronounced.

    •  It means its not about branding or messaging (6+ / 0-)
      You can't message your way out of 9 percent unemployment, a second recession, a bad housing market and other bad economic indicators.

      You can only policy your way of those issues. And, its only in that area that you can have a chance to influence he voters if you are the the party governing.

      If the Democrats were not the party in charge, they could message the issue. But they are. So its hard to do that.

      On a strictly geek level, the argument is hollow anyway regarding the GOP. a) The message wasn't set up until now. b) Its really kind of not true. Even now, knowing what they know, the Democrats aren't going to do anything to prevent future obstruction. So, what message can they send to voters even if that route were effective and we had a sophisticated enough electorate to get it?

      •  You can not do any (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse

        of this if you have a structure that is set up for example, an economic team of free market fundies, and you go around preaching wealth creation and put the likes of Ben Nelson and blanch Lincoln in the cat bird seat, while blowing off the progressives. The voters may not know any of the dealings or the players but the results your going to get policy wise will have a direct effect on the economy. It will not help people it is the same policy that got us into this mess.

        Messaging a healthcare bill that mandates people to buy insurance with no option is a good example. People liked the PO because they were not stuck under the thumb of the extortionist's. It's even more absurd when they call these ineffective bills 'landmark legislation'. Prople are just not that stupid the really stupid ones wear tea bags on their heads and think Obama is a socialist. People know when they are being jerked around and selling this as the best we can do is bs.  

    •  No, Dems need to convince people that their (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, sharonsz

      policies are helping them economically. And I think the White House has understood that. Perhaps too late, but there is still time left for some bold economic leadership.

      "Will the highways of the internet become more few?"
      - GWB asketh, Verizon/Google answereth

      by brainwave on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:46:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I dispute that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roycej, sharonsz

      and I dispute the idea that a "landslide" (presumably in favour of republicans) is inevitable.

      De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:23:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, (0+ / 0-)

      Obama can get out of Afghanistan, and send the troops to Wall Street to hunt down the financial terrorists.

      His popularity would skyrocket.

      For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

      by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:00:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, basically... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slinkerwink, mightymouse

      they blew it with too small of a stimulus - they'll pay the price at the polls.

  •  It's the message, stupid! (0+ / 0-)

    That's the biggest problems that liberals face.

  •  nice spin (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotster, kindofblue, KHinSF

    but spin never the less

  •  Dancing with the stars VS C-SPAN (13+ / 0-)

    Think about it.

    Dems need ad time on DWTS.

    That's where the Average Joe and his spousal equivalents are to be found.

    Republicans should be voted off the island and Obama IS smarter than a Fifth Grader.

    Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:12:48 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Chris Bowers. (21+ / 0-)

    I've been trying to get this across here for quite a while and have been handed more than my fair share of pie because of it.

    The truth is, if you're out talking to those that don't live and breathe politics you get to hear a lot of things that they think the government is doing wrong, but they don't have a thing to do with policy.  People are scared by the economy and the desperate conditions they see around them, and that's what they'll vote on.  And they don't remember what Bush and Co. did because they never knew in the first place.  They don't read about politics or what political junkie shows.  They just know that the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the Oval Office and that's where they lay the blame.

    "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

    by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:12:55 PM PDT

      •  Well the way I do it the old-fashioned way. (6+ / 0-)

        I talk to as many people directly as I can.  That's really the only way to do it.  And that means we have to be on the ground with big numbers of people.  And it helps if you're working an area where you are local.  People distrust outsiders, especially in rural areas, which is where I end up doing most of my GOTV.  There's really no other way to reach people that are generally disconnected from politics and physically isolated.  But I find this holds true in suburbia as well.

        There are no quick fixes.  Our candidates need to be out there fighting like hell, the president needs to ratchet the rhetoric of the last few days up a few more notches and we have to do the footwork on the ground.

        One thing that absolutely doesn't help GOTV at all is sitting around day after day trying to annihilate people who don't share your enthusiasm or disappoint with pithy commentary on a blog, flinging pie with reckless abandon.  We'd all be better off to get up out of our chairs and hit the streets.  I've been hoping that was something we could all agree on, but recent conversations here indicate I'm wrong.

        "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

        by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:34:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But seems that's what you have been doing (5+ / 0-)

          One thing that absolutely doesn't help GOTV at all is sitting around day after day trying to annihilate people who don't share your enthusiasm or disappoint with pithy commentary on a blog, flinging pie with reckless abandon.

          your own admission

          I've been trying to get this across here for quite a while  

          and

            They just know that the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the Oval Office and that's where they lay the blame.

          Sooooo, what do you tell them, to get them to vote?  With so many needs unmet , afraid my sympathies are tending to be with the public and unions, teachers and others who plan to go insist on "the change we voted for:"

          Historic March on Washington, 10-2-10

          Rec list diary up with details.

          Daily Kos: 10.2.10 March on Washington - Mother Ship

          •  We don't have a disagreement here. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slinkerwink, pico, divineorder

            My sympathies are in the same place as yours.  I'm very disappointed in what has transpired over the last two years.

            Nevertheless, I encounter teh stoopid every day and I do my best to counteract that.  I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to hand the reigns over to the Republicans.  And beyond that, I just hate bad information.  So I patiently explain the real facts and engage in conversation to dispel teh stoopid.

            If this were a presidential election year then things might be different.  But this isn't about electing a president, this is about electing the best people to represent my interests and the people around me in local, state and federal seats.  So I can stuff down my very real concerns about policy decisions emanating from the White House over the last two years to try to educate as many people as I can on how to best serve their interests with the candidates before us.  

            "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

            by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:23:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  If that were true, we might as well quit now (0+ / 0-)

      except people don't universally see it that way, particularly when it regards the particular candidates they're voting on locally. It's the old "Everyone else's representative is wrong, but I like mine" thing. So in order to have "landslide" losses, people have to become convinced that THEIR particular representative was culpable. That's harder.

      De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:26:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Im tired of the excuses (10+ / 0-)

    Republicans only lost 26 seats in the House and actually picked up a seat in the Senate in 1982 in an economy even worse than today because they had strong leader in Reagan leading the party.

    In 1954, Republicans only lost 18 House seats and one Senate seat in a bad economy.  

    In the 1970 recession, Republicans only lost nine House seats and actually gained two Senate seats.

    Strong Presidential leadership can overcome a bad economy in midterms.

    If Democrats do lose 40+ House seats, the blame can only go back to one person and I think we all know how that is.  

    •  Way to miss the point of the essay (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, beauchapeau, SoCalSal, FiredUpInCA

      The election hangs in the balance, between a 25 seat loss and a 50 seat loss. It depends largely on public perception, which Obama can manage only to a limited extent.

      If he falls a little short, then yes, a 25 seat loss could turn into a 50 seat loss. but it doesn't equate to failed leadership. You'd trade Clinton for Regan?

      Stop worrying about what might happen and get back to work on a campaign.

      •  Reagan showed better leadership than Clinton (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhonan

        in his first two years.  Clinton didnt become a real leader until after 1995, when actually began to attack and fight Republicans.  

      •  Nah, he didn't miss the point, just disagreed. As (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zedaker

        do I.  BTW your comment was so motivational:

        Stop worrying about what might happen and get back to work on a campaign.

        Hope winning does not depend on dickish comments like that one.

      •  Actually, Obama aspired to be like Reagan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens

        in the sense of being "transformational"...a lot of people got upset with him at the time because it sounded like he was praising Reagan, when he was really saying that he hoped to be able to change the orientation of this country. The times were certainly ripe for some sort of transformation, but for whatever reason (and there are lots of them) Obama has not been able to pull it off....maybe it helps to be old? Or maybe it's about being an old movie star...

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:51:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We're ready to close the book so soon? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm well aware that Regan is considered "transformational" by ushering in modern conservatism, and that Obama aspired for a likewise leftward transformation.

          But when exactly did that transformation occur, and why are you so quick to close the book on Obama before he even reaches his first midterm?

          By this point in Regan's career, he was at 39% approval. And he'd accomplished...? Tax cuts (Reganomics). Other seemingly minor legislative victories whose scope wasn't understood at large for years?

          Regan left office 22 years ago, and we're not even 22 months into Obama's first term.

        •  Reagan didn't have Rahm. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, mightymouse

          He also showed an amazing amount of boldness.  Remember that whole Teflon presidency thing?  He took risks and said what he figured the man on the street wanted to hear, often without thinking if it was the best policy?  Remember how often someone had to come out later, and clarify what Reagan really meant?  Yet the public loved him, so it never raised a fuss.  Granted, we now know a lot of that was the early stages of Alzheimer's, but people saw him as bold and decisive.  

          •  Enough Democrats were willing to go... (0+ / 0-)

            ...along with many of the biggest items in the Reagan agenda (e.g. tax cuts and defense buildup) to get them through Congress.

            Also: Obama's "transformation" was supposed to include a new era of bipartisanship. This is always a dangerous promise, since it puts one's success in the hands of the other party.  The Republicans, all by themselves, could--and did--put the kibosh on this part of Obama's vision.

            "I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up." - Barack Obama

            by GreenSooner on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:40:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I certainly hope you have a better (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens

        attitude when you are working to GOTV.

        Every person "votes" - if you don't cast a ballot, you effectively voted for whoever wins. Who is going to make your choice?

        by Denny in Seattle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:08:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Attitude shmattitude (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          Any campaign worth its salt is providing campaign volunteers with a GOTV script.

          Any campaign that is relying on individual volunteers' "attitudes" for GOTV is built to fail.

          "I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up." - Barack Obama

          by GreenSooner on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:41:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The economies in 1982 and 1954 (5+ / 0-)

      weren't even close to being as bad as the economy is today.

      Great leaders and great messaging can swing things by a couple of seats at best. But it really comes down to the perceptions of the average voter (not the activists): have things gotten better or have they gotten worse? Do you think things will get better or do you think they will get worse? If you lean toward the former, they will vote for the guys in charge. If they lean toward the latter, they will vote for the guys running against the guys in charge.

  •  Wrong! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenSooner, mightymouse

    People don't vote because blog commenters with funny names bum them out.

  •  Which Is Why Consistent Messaging Is Important (12+ / 0-)

    as part of governing a democracy. As opposed to sloganeering in the sprint to the vote.

    Some of us who've been critical know very well that the electorate's the farthest thing from a mass of analysts. Where we wanted stronger or faster policy I think for most of us the understanding was that the voters would see more benefits, not that it'd match their policy checklists.

    Policy success may be the biggest part of success but especially where the situation is going to be slow to reverse, political leaders like any other type of leaders need to be on their messaging all the way along. People can put up with a lot given a good combination of both accomplishment and communication.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:20:38 PM PDT

  •  Landslide? Um... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KHinSF

    If both the House and Senate were flipped, I guess I'd have to call it a landslide, but the gloomiest forecasts I've seen don't seem to think it very likely.

    I think once the lunacy of Paul, Angle, etc. are on display for a couple more months, the outlook for the Senate will look a little better than it does today.

    The Rs may take the House. Then again, they might not.

  •  landslide election years (6+ / 0-)

    The phrase sounds like a

    "Ubiquitous Political Junkie Fallacy"

    We Destroyed this Village in order to save it from the Viet Cong er um Taliban

    by JML9999 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:21:11 PM PDT

  •  I like to use Jonathan Chait's Wehner Fallacy, .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, sharonsz

    ... named after the Bush WH political operative.  But the Ubiquitous Political Pundit Fallacy also works. ...

  •  Damn.....another good diary today!! (10+ / 0-)

    Really interesting. Makes alot of sense. I pay alot of attention to policy and know alot more than the average voter, I'm sure. I'm furious about alot of it, too. However, if I could afford my HC ins, and wasn't underwater on my condo, and my daughter wasn't on the verge of losing her med ins and ruining her credit in an attempt to get a graduate degree, I wouldn't care nearly as much about the policies to be honest!

    NOW...my fellers are Boxer/Waxman, so I'll definitely be voting for them. But I can see why a less informed voter would just stay home and watch DWTS. I'll be mailing my ballot in so I can watch it!   :)

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by Lucy2009 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:23:36 PM PDT

  •  But aren't these things the result of tactical (6+ / 0-)

    decisions?

    1. "It’s socialist."
    1. "I oppose big government."

    And how did Bush win in 2004? He'd enacted public policy that helped enough people?

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:24:33 PM PDT

    •  Bush won in 2004 by scaring the pants off people. (10+ / 0-)

      Fear is a profound motivator.  It will make reasonable, decent folks do decidedly stupid, awful things.  The republicans have known this for decades and have been playing the fear card with alacrity.

      "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

      by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:54:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but that argues precisely the opposite (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bush Bites, FreeStateDem

        of what Bowers is saying here, if I understand correctly.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:58:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I don't think it's the opposite. (7+ / 0-)

          As I've said elsewhere on this blog, people are not paying attention to policy, i.e., the list of accomplishments that keep being dragged out as reasons everyone should be behind the Dems.  They're not listening to Obama or Boehner, because that kind of tactical stuff is just boring to them.  They consider it political posturing.  If they are watching and sort of news at all it's the truncated he said/she said of the big three or Fox.  Where they get most of their info is from what they listen to in the car.  Who are these folks?  Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savitch, Glenn Beck, et al.

          So they're inclined to hear crap that isn't true, which sits in their brain and gets mixed up with whatever they see going on around them.

          Digby had an interesting piece yesterday about a conversation she had with a checker and two women in the grocery store about Social Security.  One woman believed because she couldn't get her hands on her dead mother's Social Security that all of the money in the program was gone.  The others said they heard it was going to be all tapped out really soon.  She tried to talk reason to them but they blew it off.  She couldn't counteract teh stoopid.  You can bet none of these people know who Simpson is or know about the catfood commission, but the fear has been fed to them through word of mouth.  Their wrong-headed beliefs don't have anything to do with policy or tactical strategy coming from politicians.  It's pushed by corporate interests and their mouthpieces and passed along from one misinformed person to another.

          "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

          by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:13:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're saying that (0+ / 0-)

            fear is an effective motivator. I completely agree. And that messaging drives votes. Again, I agree. But if I understand Chris, he's saying that those things have only a marginal impact.

            He's saying that those women in the grocery store are motivated primarily by the quality of the public policy that has been enacted.

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:21:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think that's what he's saying at all. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus, GreenSooner

              He's saying that people are motivated by whatever condition they find themselves in and those around them.  And I agree with that.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with policy decisions in the short term, which is why it's a day late and a dollar short to start tactical political messaging at the top two months before an election.  Average folks vote on the situation they find themselves in and whatever fears they've accumulated between one election to the next.

              The one woman in the grocery store was basing her beliefs about SS on the fact that she wrongly believed that she was entitled to whatever money her mother had put into the system now that she's dead.  The clerk and the other woman were motivated by the crap they heard from someone else who heard it from someone else who heard something stupid on the radio and by their own fears that money won't be there for them down the line because there's no money trickling down to them now.  They have no political education and they're not interested in getting one.  If they vote at all it will be because things aren't right in their world and they'll vote to "throw the bums out."

              "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

              by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:42:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Conditions plus (grand) narrative (0+ / 0-)

                "Messaging" is something you do in the short (or at most medium-) run.

                What those comments reported by digby about Social Security reveal is the influence of a narrative that conservatives have been constructing for decades.

                Ideology, propaganda, and big frames matter.

                The New Deal provided Americans with a view of government that paid dividends for Democrats and progressives for decades.

                We are now still working within a frame built for the Goldwater campaign that attained dominance with the Reagan campaign and has been updated and refined ever since.

                For sensible economic policies to be achieved, fundamental changes in the way Americans view, e.g., government and taxes have to happen again.

                Selling timid stimulus spending as a small-business tax break (while avoiding the "s" word because "stimulus" itself is now apparently evil) is doomed to failure.

                "I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up." - Barack Obama

                by GreenSooner on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:47:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I may be misreading, but I took the key phrase (4+ / 0-)

              to be "perceived outcomes of the governing party’s public policy", i.e. not necessarily the policies but the way they are perceived by the voters.  

              If this is true, then Health Care reform shot Democrats in the foot in part because its effects are going to take a while to be felt.  I have to imagine that a year of build-up and anticipation about One of the Biggest Reform Efforts in Our Lifetime, followed by what's been (so far) good but small-scale change while the bigger stuff takes time to roll out, can't have helped with the policy perception.  

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:53:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's exactly right. (0+ / 0-)

                When I'm in Missouri all I hear is angry people up in arms about the mandate to buy insurance.  There is a referendum on the ballot there decrying it.  People are really up in arms about it.  None of these people could afford to buy insurance before and now they're going to be forced to do it.  And this isn't a new concept to them since they fought tooth and nail to keep from having to buy auto insurance when it was mandated.  Poor Missouri hillbillies hate them some mandated insurance purchases.  

                The fact that none of the benefits kick in until 2014 surely doesn't help.  No amount of tactical messaging is going to counteract this.

                I also think that the brouhaha over the insurance mandate is why Robin Carnahan has been going around trumpeting that she's for extending all of the Bush tax cuts, not just the ones for the middle class and below.  She's got an uphill battle trying to beat one of two evil Blunt boys and that insurance mandate is killing her.  I don't actually believe that she wants to extend tax cuts to the rich, but she thinks it's a better messaging tool to say she is.  I bet her Daddy has been spinning in his grave ever since those words came out of her mouth.  I know he raised her to be better than that.

                "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

                by Got a Grip on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:32:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Well, that would certainly explain (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico

                why the line between tactics (such as 'messaging') and policy is basically nonexistent.

                Maybe I'm misreading the 'tactical fallacy,' and all it really means is 'tactics during a campaign,' not 'tactics as opposed to reality.' Which, yeah.

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 05:14:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My guess - and again this is just a guess - (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  neroden

                  is that tactics just circumscribe the level of cushioning one has around reality: you can only do so much with what you've got.  So messaging can make the difference between presenting a poor economic climate as an unmitigated disaster or a slow but positive recovery, but it can't sell it as unambiguously good.  Although I'm not 100% sure I agree with that: Republicans are certainly making a lot of hay out of the Cordoba House, which affects policy not at all.  Still, it's good to see in the diary what the actual voter responses are.  One productive way of thinking about it might be not "low-information voters", but "different-information voters" since they're operating with a clear informational backing to what they do.

                  And now I'm just rambling.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 08:29:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  wow! if digby couldn't breach (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, Got a Grip

            the stupid, what hope do the rest of us have? that's really pretty scary.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:01:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  He made himself over as a "war president" (7+ / 0-)

      the shine didn't wear off until 2006...and of course the economy didn't crash decisively until 2008.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:55:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but 'war president' (0+ / 0-)

        is messaging, and 'not crashing decisively' is very different from 'enacting public policy to help.'

        I don't know. If enacting public policy were paramount, the Republicans would never win.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:02:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but the war itself is not just messaging (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, neroden

          If Bush hadn't invaded just before the 2002 elections and we weren't actually in Iraq for the 2004 election, I'm not sure his belligerence would have won any votes.

          •  There are two things: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden
            1. the war.
            1. the war messaging.

            If you think the war was policy that actually made positive change in voters' lives, fine. Otherwise, that is all messaging, that not only  resulted in votes, but more than counterbalanced shitty policies.

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 05:16:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe the it was "security issues" (0+ / 0-)

      On many fronts, it was status quo.  Maybe people felt safer given given what people may have saw at airports, Iraq invasion on TV, and watching 24.

  •  Exactly. Political Junkies are (9+ / 0-)

    completely focused on the nuances of political operations, while voters just say "Does it look better, does it look worse?" about a bunch of things starting with the economy. And moving down the list from there depending on whether the economy feels secure.

    This is why insistence on "unified messaging" among the rank-and-file is pointless in regards to outcomes. And that at best.

    The worst being that leadership, also hung up in their version of "political sophistication," having a reliable echo-chamber fails to use critics as a reality-check. "Are we instilling confidence and hope in the population? How do we do that?"

    For everyone not a political geek, Reality trumps Messaging on most important matters.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:25:51 PM PDT

  •  Looking at the oil-spill polls (8+ / 0-)

    told me pretty much everything I needed to go.

    As the oil was gushing into the gulf and news reports covered it every day, polls asking whether people approved of Obama's handling of the oil spill had very high disapproval numbers and low approval numbers.

    After the spill stopped and the mess faded from the headlines, polls gauging approval had approval well above fifty percent.

    And that was about all I needed to see to confirm much of what is being discussed here tonight. There are two chief dualisms in politics: Republican/Democrat and approval/disapprove.  Ask somebody if he approves of a political leader when things are going poorly, and the answer will probably be "no." Ask somebody to vote when things are going poorly, and the vote will very likely be for the guy who's not in charge. Conversely, ask somebody if he approves of a political leader when things are going well, and the answer will probably be "yes." And, ask somebody to vote when things are going well, and ... well, you know the rest.

    The electorate, by and large, skips the details.

    •  next 6 wks (0+ / 0-)

      will see many Dem. campaigns across the country hit their peak at the right time..even NS @ 538 is going to end up being premature in his dire predictions..continued steady economic improvement will  send Obama's approval numbers slightly above his election number (52.7%) and this election is not a foregone conclusion.

  •  Facts on Voter Turnout (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, 3goldens, FiredUpInCA

    http://www.infoplease.com/...

    Looking at mid-term elections only, overall turnout since 1974 has remained consistent, below 40% in the mid- to high-30s among eligible voters.

    Note also that voter turnout in presidential elections turnout hovers in the low- to mid-50s since 1972.

    The "enthusiasm gap" is an equal opportunity employer in the mid-terms: No party is immune.

    In the 2008 election, a larger than usual number of young voters showed up, massively for Obama. You could make the point that their predicted falloff in the mid-terms and polled unenthusiasm for Obama spells trouble for the Dems this year. That would assume that these young voters are old crusty straight-party voters, which I doubt.

    Anyway, there's something a bit odd about the MSN meme about voter turnout. That and the MSN is often wrong. I'm not going broke voting against them.

    •  The predicted falloff of young voters does spell (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, mightymouse

      trouble, because (a) we're counting on their enthusiasm for Democrats to reinvigorate the party for the long haul and (b) we can't afford to lose voters t his cycle because the Republicans look like they're turning out in force and we need to match them.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:59:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and perhaps. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, 3goldens

        I don't have the links at my fingertips, but young voters are always the most likely to not vote in mid-terms.

        This is normal. But the Obama-heavy young support in 2008 may not be the problem. Obama isn't on the ballot.

        Anyway, it's all speculation. And the MSN does a lot of that. I was offering my counter-speculation. :-)

  •  It will be close... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA

    This is an excellent wrap-up of the fallacies and facts of voter performance. But, it'll still be close for all the reasons you gave and for all the reasons that Democrats have been winning.

    ...'06, '08, and ...'10? 'It was a trifecta of the peoples' outrage against Republicanism!'

    by ezdidit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:33:00 PM PDT

  •  It's Always Reminded Of..... (8+ / 0-)

    .....what passes for "journalism" & analysis in sports.

    If a team or their star player wins a game on a last second jumper, Hail Mary pass, or home run, the same sports writers that was ready to crucify 'em & write all sorts of stories about how badly they're "in trouble," will switch on a dime & the stories all become about how great everything is with the team's strategy. All because of one catch or one shot.

    In politics, the process feeds on itself. For example, a network takes a poll. The poll numbers aren't good news, but not especially bad news for the candidate; maybe a 7 point lead going to 3. So instead of talking about issues, that politician or their campaign spends the next couple days of media responding to the poll, and questions like "Why do you think your campaign is failing to resonate with voters?"

    Since that becomes the story, instead of the campaign's message, the candidate or the campaign has to make news that somehow breaks out of that cycle, otherwise there really will be a problem with resonating with voters. And in the end, a bad "process story" can only be assuaged by another poll with better news. The political press corps will then be like their sports brethren above, and write "happy-happy stories" about how everything is great again.

    •  Good analogy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rimjob

      I always use sports analogies when I'm explaining this process to my students.  Political journalism shares a heck of a lot with sports journalism, and not just the obvious "horse-race coverage" metaphor.

      In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

      by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:38:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In one game, or one election (0+ / 0-)

      but we are talking 500+ elections spanning an entire nation of 300 million plus people.

      The broader trends will dominate.

      For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

      by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:44:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with 95% of your commentary...except... (10+ / 0-)

    ...for two things:

    1.) generally speaking, most voters have to have a reason (not necessarily a rational reason, however) to vote for or against someone (for some, it's as rudimentary/simple of a reason as party affiliation of the candidate, etc., being significant cause for support or vice versa)

    2.) properly delivered (sometimes via opinion leaders, who are not low information voters, of course), "superficial" messaging/image development frequently matters; much of the time, substantive messaging doesn't mean a damn, however

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:38:31 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I'm not sure how this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites, FreeStateDem

      addresses Gore in 2000 or Bush in 2004. If this was very much the case (instead of just being a small part of the case), then predicting the results of an election based on the economy would be a snap. But unless I'm mistaken, it's not.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:43:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Case-in-point re: Obama... (8+ / 0-)

        ...if there was consistent messaging and/or continuity of theme from day one that:

        a.) we were heading into a Depression; and,

        b.) it would take at least a full 4-year term, if not 2 4-year terms to "fix" the problem...

        ...we'd be looking at an entirely different situation for the Democrats right now.

        And, yes, I'm on record as saying this since late 2008, too.

        As I've also said quite frequently, Barack Obama is a "dream client" for a good political media consultant with great national chops.

        Understanding that virtually all of Axelrod's political media experience, except for (literally) a few weeks of work running Edwards' short-lived Presidential campaign in 2004, has been confined to in and around Illinois (and the midwest, in general), goes a long way to supporting my sentiments that: It's too bad the media/communications folks around Obama are made to look as competent as they are because their client's so good. From Gibbs on over to Axelrod, et al, the President's media team is one of the very weakest spokes in his "wheel."

        (And, I say this as someone with more than 25 Democratic campaigns on my resume, including work with some of the better-known/best-known Dem media consultants of the past three decades, too.)

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:53:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Kind of flies in the face of most Repub victories (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, FreeStateDem

        Waving shiny objects in front of people who's lives have been made worse under the Repub regimes is an art that certainly requires great tactical work, unless the diarist thinks all that gay marriage this, bibles in school that, and guns everywhere this didn't bear any fruit.

        The last time we broke a president, we ended up with Reagan.

        by Bush Bites on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:57:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If we're talking about (5+ / 0-)

        presidential elections, then predicting their outcome actually is a snap -- though no model relies solely on the economy.  Every 4 years I get to blow my students' minds with the shocking accuracy of the scholarly forecasting models, all of which are published by Labor Day, and more often than not are more accurate than the final polls in October!  There has only been one exception to this: 2000.  Al Gore, despite winning the popular vote as predicted, badly undershot the forecasts.  The explanation for this that makes the most sense to me is that he thwarted the key assumption that a candidate of the incumbent party should take credit for a good economy and a popular president.  Instead, he ran away from Clinton.

        Congressional elections, on the other hand, are harder to predict accurately.  Most of the scholarly forecasting models have now been made public, and they all have huge confidence intervals (meaning, lots of uncertainty about the precise prediction).  My take on the uncertainty is that tactics really do matter at the margins.

        In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

        by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:58:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I thought that (0+ / 0-)

          those models failed as often as they succeeded!

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:00:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  2000 was a very high-profile (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GussieFN

            failure, since it was unfortunately the one year that the forecasters made an effort to go public with their predictions.  Lesson learned.

            But the top-tier political science models in 1992, 1996, 2004 and 2008 (Alan Abramowitz, Robert Erikson, etc.) were dead-on accurate.  There are some economists who created inaccurate models in the 1990s, so that might be where some of the perception comes from.

            In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

            by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:04:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Agree with point 2. Agitprop does matter. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fhcec

      In fact messaging, agitprop or whatever you call it matters big time.  It sets the belief systems on which people will act and vote on.  Circumstances do matter, but how people view and understand those circumstances probably matters even more.  

  •  exactly right, and to be more specific (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    if the Democrats lose in November it will be because of jobs and the general feeling of financial insecurity. In other words it will be because the stimulus was actually pitifully small, even by the administration's own numbers. Keynes was right again, damn him!

    If Democrats win, it will be a powerful refutation of the this thesis of this blog. It would mean people actually paid attention to the crazy coming out of the Republicans. I'm not counting on it!

  •  Unfortunately - More and better (0+ / 0-)

    democrats advertisements on television win elections. Astroturfing wins elections.

    Hence the preoccupation with who has raised, or still has on hand the most money. And my fear of the yet unseen consequences from the deplorable Citizen's United decision.

    My Dog laughs at me. My God is bored and just stifles the giggles under her breath.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:48:39 PM PDT

  •  I don't buy it. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fhcec, RagingGurrl, FreeStateDem, KHinSF

    If anything, Bush made lives worse by 2004, yet he won reelection.

    Hell, Clinton made lives better by 2000, yet Gore lost.

    The last time we broke a president, we ended up with Reagan.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:48:59 PM PDT

  •  This is just awesome Chris (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, cardinal, Paul Goodman, kck

    Thank you so much for publishing it on the front page here.

    Show me on the doll where Rahm touched you.

    by taylormattd on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:54:14 PM PDT

  •  spot on (9+ / 0-)

    if the dems get booted, it will be because the stimulus was too small and the recovery too weak. that has been obvious for more than a year. it always was going to be about jobs, and it has been obvious for more than a year that without a second stimulus there wouldn't be enough jobs.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:55:16 PM PDT

    •  Not just the size, also the nature (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      the people wanted the mega banks to fall; they wanted the same money to go directly into the pockets of average Americans to

      1. Help them pay off debt
      1. Deposit in local banks to save them
      1. Spend so as to get the Keynesian multiplier effect and create jobs for small businesses.

      None of that happened.

      The reckoning is at hand.

      For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

      by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:36:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What was also obvious for more than a year, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, slinkerwink

      BEFORE the stimulus was passed, was that we'd have ONE shot at it.

      The question is not what can be done but what must be done. - Kevin Baker, Harpers

      by WisePiper on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:37:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Diary, Concerning implication (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal

    If people vote by reacting to their immediate surroundings (economic and otherwise), then that has sad implications for politics. Rather than a problem with politics being that the people who run for office are inherently cynical and short-sighted, it's is the system (more precisely, the impatience of the swing voters) who push the short sighted behavior, lest the politicians won't be in office long enough to enact a stable long term solution.
    Why worry about the roots of boom bust cycles and increasing income disparity, when any solutions to these long term problems will take more than two years and see the leader thrown out because he opted to not take the quick fix approach that will eventually lead to more of the same problems.

    •  Depressing but true (0+ / 0-)

      The problem with swing voters is that a vast majority of people who pay close attention to politics are found solidly on one side or the other.  Those totally tuned out tend not to vote.  That leaves those in the middle of the awareness/knowledge spectrum to swing the elections.

      In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

      by cardinal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:05:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dang results matter. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Goodman, WisePiper, Jon Says

    And it is progressive policies that produce those results.

  •  This is no (0+ / 0-)

    surprise...all the naysayers were way to early. This seat is not the only one that will surprise. After the primary just watch and see what happens in NH...it will be very similar...there is supposed to be a PPP poll out showing how Coons does v. COD and Castle...Castle knows he is dead in the water and the Dems. will pile on in this very blue state

  •  In short... (4+ / 0-)

    Look at the outrageous unemployment rate and realize why Democrats are going to be fucked come November. Who wants to vote for the party in charge when the economy sucks for everyone but those on Wall Street who got their giant bailout.

    Not clapping louder isn't the problem.

  •  So we are already deciding the Democrats are dead (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bagman

    and we are busy trying to figure out how to word the obituary?

  •  It really all comes down to Dem leadership (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sharonsz

    Im tired of the excuses

    Republicans only lost 26 seats in the House and actually picked up a seat in the Senate in 1982 in an economy even worse than today because they had strong leader in Reagan leading the party.

    In 1954, Republicans only lost 18 House seats and one Senate seat in a bad economy.  

    In the 1970 recession, Republicans only lost nine House seats and actually gained two Senate seats.

    Strong Presidential leadership can overcome a bad economy in midterms.

    If Democrats do lose 40+ House seats, the blame can only go back to one person and I think we all know how that is.

     

    President Obama needed to have enacted legislation that creates a larger donut hole for seniors. He should not have introduced a stimulus bill saved and created jobs, or wasted his political capital on infrastructure spending. It would have been better for him to pump up a housing bubble, watch a city drown and wait on the market to correct itself.

    The great thing about Republicans is that it doesn't matter how they govern or how they message or how they do anything.

    It never matters. They can destroy a country and they'll receive bipartisan praise for winning.

    The will receive bipartisan praise from Republicans who don't like Democratic leadership and Democrats who don't like Democratic leadership.

    Republicans don't play that. But that's the way Democrats roll. Everyone always agrees Democrats suck.

    •  Yeah, like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA

      this country was not totally screwed by Bush and rep. congress in control 1994-2006...and the country was not better off under Clinton..check the figures, butt hole

      •  I think we're on the same side (0+ / 0-)

        Yeah, like this country was not totally screwed by Bush and rep. congress in control 1994-2006...and the country was not better off under Clinton..check the figures, butt hole

        Barronthedem I am glad to see you are fired up for Dems. I should have made it more obvious that I am always amazed that whether it's Clinton or Obama, no matter what they achieved will receive just as harsh criticism from Democrats as they will Republicans. Republicans also receive bipartisan praise for screwing the country over. Republicans praise them for their policies. Democrats praise them for their messaging and ruthlessness. I have yet to be impressed with the Republicans messaging. Corporate media is the communications arm of the conservative agenda. Why should I be impressed with any message they are able to get on right wing radio and mainstream media? They're all buddies.

  •  This is why the mainstream media hurts (0+ / 0-)

    The mainstream media carries the GOP water so much we shouldn't be surprised when the low info voter believes those talking points.

    If the media would do their damn jobs and tell the fricking truth about the issues instead of the so-called debates then Dems and other progressives would see more victories.

  •  it's the fucking radio (0+ / 0-)
    reaching 50 mil a week with no notice from the left. the left analyzes and scream at their quarterback on the ground and they have no fucking clue it's because they have no front line compared to 1000 uncontested radio stations and their coordinated uncontested repetition of pro corporate talking points.

    Progressives will lose all major messaging battles until they picket the limbaugh/hannity megastations and boycott those stations' local sponsors.

    by certainot on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:19:21 PM PDT

  •  The broader political climate (0+ / 0-)

    IS Messaging.

  •  Especially on this blog (0+ / 0-)

    where career activists, employees of the government, and other self-interested parties demonstrate the weakness that Upton Sinclair famously pointed out

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

    And what is it that people who 4 years ago were "Crashing the Gates" seem to have forgot?

    The best way to "save elected Democrats from themselves" is not by

    supporting them no matter what,

    but by making their failings politically untenable, especially in an off-year election.

    Their failings? Not attacking the parasitic financial class, but instead facilitating their assault on average Americans.

    If that isn't punished by self-styled progressives, we're dealing with battered wife syndrome.

    For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

    by Paul Goodman on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:30:27 PM PDT

  •  Having run a campaign, I disagree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, verso2, sharonsz

    I ran a small initiative campaign a few years ago. We spent under $20,000 and defeated a wealthy developer that had spent $2 million! Those numbers are correct. We busted our asses. And the developer made serious mistakes. And those were factors-- he was going to walk away with it up to the last few weeks. We won by about 500 votes (out of about 15,000 cast, IIRC).

    Tactics matter. Strategy matters. Hard work matters. It's not all determined by the "political climate", because that strategy, tactics, et all can change the political climate.

    That said, I do understand the power of general trends. I've been involved in campaigns where, no matter what we did, it was hopeless, and we all knew it was. We could feel the strong pull of forces way bigger and broader and more powerful than us. the last two Clean Money / Public Campaign Financing campaigns in California come to mind.

    So I dunno. Certainly the wonk fallacy is the biggest problem. People are stunningly ignorant. It's frightening. It's amazing that democracy actually works, considering how many people who vote have no fucking idea what they're voting for or against.

    However, smart campaigners, who do understand that most people have no grasp of the issues whatsoever, can win. Repugs have been much better at this than we have, but we can learn, and have learned, and have succeeded.

  •  The so-called science of politics (0+ / 0-)

    This is the kind of stuff that pretends to be scientific and informative, but doesn't bear much weight, and only obtains consistently in rather ordinary circumstances in a well-established liberal democratic state. Such a political science thinks FDR, Churchill and Stalin are more or less irrelevant, not to mention Hitler, Mussolini, Franco or Salazar, or Lincoln, Washington, or Huey Long. And I imagine those Lincoln-Douglas debates were just some kind of side show that nobody paid much attention to—voters not being much interested in, you know, issues. Heaven help us.

  •  Thank you especially for backing this up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Got a Grip

    with numbers and evidence: it's a little exhausting arguing this kind of predicative politics with people whose opinions are based on the fact that they themselves vote a particular way, or that they know people who do, etc.  Anecdote and personal opinion can be insightful, but it's far nicer to see what the numbers tell us when we actually ask these questions to larger swaths of voters.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:49:47 PM PDT

  •  When did Chris Bowers start front-paging (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    v2aggie2, KHinSF

    dailykos? I guess we needed more self-flagellation. Get on the I Told You So train early. It's going to get crowded.

    What's a sign of distancing? Referring to Dems as "them" instead of "us."

    How I despise the early surrender this post represents.

    "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected." - Barack Obama (3.18.08)

    by lapis on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:53:52 PM PDT

  •  good diary... if the Dems get the boot (0+ / 0-)

    it will be for one reason - a lousy economy they could've salvaged with a bigger stimulus.

    All of the other issues that we spend so much time chattering about are certainly important - but proportionally have a tiny effect on electoral success.

  •  The NYT should run that instead of Maureen Dowd. (0+ / 0-)

    That makes more sense than certain paid political commentators.

    I wasted five minutes of my life reading Maureen Dowd explain that she can tell Obama fucked up because he won't abandon Michelle and the girls to sweep her off her feet got elected with independent votes, like those of her sister:

    One of the independent voters Obama will be trying to charm over the next two years is my sister, Peggy, a formerly ardent Obamican (a Republican who changed spots to vote for Obama).

    Disillusioned with her beloved W. over Iraq and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and the disdain for bipartisanship, she gave her affections — and small cash infusions — to Barack Obama in 2008.

    I'll admit I usually come down on the Obama-should-be-doing-a-better-job-of-staying-left arguments here, but if this is the kind of voter he's supposed to try to impress, then we're all just fucked.

    Except Maureen Dowd.

    Because she gets paid to write stuff like that.

    Politico: Because Republicans need something to jerk off to.

    by Christopher on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:17:12 PM PDT

  •  So (0+ / 0-)

    When people were asked to explain their positions, unprompted with scripted responses, almost all of the support or opposition to health reform was generalized. Most responses were like "we have a moral obligation to provide health care," "too many people are uninsured," "it’s socialist," or "I oppose big government." Discussions of specific policies were almost entirely absent.

    SO what you're saying is that people make their judgments in even the mostly intesively, minutely debated issues of extensive "nuance" is taht the public makes its judgements on the basis of existing ideological preconceptions, and that if you want to win issues then you need to fight for ideological dominance first?  Well, surprise surprise surprise Sergeant Carter, that's why ideology matters and why ideological trimming and triangulation and other such whiggery may seem "pragmatic" but is massively self-destructive in the medium-term and perhaps even sooner than that.

    American business is about maximizing shareholder value. You basically don't want workers. ~Allen Sinai

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:49:02 PM PDT

  •  Derp derp derp (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KHinSF

    More often than not, if you lose, then you just didn’t enact public policy that helped enough people by the time of the election.

    AND YET...

    Further, if Democrats get booted in November, it will not be primarily because people opposed the details of their public policy in the abstract, or that they were let down by not passing more.

    You're trying too hard to be a political theoretician and tying yourself in knots.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:59:31 PM PDT

  •  Not buying this recycled conventional wisdom... (0+ / 0-)

    This article is not saying anything new.  It basically re-asserts the notion that the American electorate always votes against the party in power when their political desires go unfulfilled.  However, the article doesn't take into account the unprecedented lunacy and ineptitude of this modern day GOP.  As shallow-minded as voters can be, they will not be running in throngs to the Republican Party for anything.  

    Landslide my bum.

  •  Use it or lose it (0+ / 0-)

    would appear to apply to political power too.

  •  In the absence of any positive reason to vote Dem (0+ / 0-)

    ..then yes, the economy will determine Dem turnout.

    At this point in a campaign, you would think that Dem party leaders would be trying to figure out how to get their most reliable voters out to vote in November.  They'd be courting labor, African- and Hispanic-Americans, gay and young Americans, female Americans, and so on.  They would offer up some ambitious positive agenda -- a New Deal, as it were -- and run on it.

    Instead they've decided to bank on white suburban voters, the purported middle, and they're sending out their apologists to make excuses for losing long before the election has even taken place.  

    President Obama: neither Kenyan nor Keynesian.

    by Tommy Allen on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 05:42:45 AM PDT

  •  It's very hard to win an election.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    ....when a party controls Congress and the White House and the economy is in the tank.

    That's the bottom line.

    Corollary to the Bottom Line:  

    Much as we liked to make fun of the "Party of No," simply obstructing the governing party is a very effective political strategy in our two-party system, especially if times are hard and one's party is willing to let the economy languish.

    "I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up." - Barack Obama

    by GreenSooner on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:26:12 AM PDT

  •  Your argument is fallacious (0+ / 0-)

    Bowers' thesis that the success of a political party is based on an economic and political gestalt and not on the effectiveness of that party's campaigns in a particular year is fallacious. It does not explain why some candidates exceed expectations regardless of the gestalt and why Republicans have been able to succeed even in years when the gestalt has been poor.

    For example, George W. Bush was able to be re-elected even though the economy was relatively poor, many billions of dollars were being wasted on the Iraqi War and numerous Americans were being killed or maimed by the war. Despite the morass into which Bush led our country, the Republicans were able to portray the Democrats as weak on securing the country. Dick Cheney, who had received multiple military deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, proclaimed that the United States would be more apt to be attacked again if a Democrat became president. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for President wss characterized as an elite even though the policies of the Republicans harm the middle class and benefit the rich. To garner support from the middle class, the party that favors the wealthy obsessed on religious wedge issues such as abortion and gay marriage to succeed.

    Bowers' argument that Americans' view of health care reform was not based on the reality of the health care reform bill is due to the fact that Fox News and conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity horribly mischaracterized the bill, and democrats poorly defined it.

    In this year of high unemployment, Democrats should not assume the fetal position and be whimperingly defensive. They should go on the offensive and attack.

    They should emphasize that their Republican opponents favor the rich and hurt the middle class, and repeatedly remind voters that Republicans wish to privatize or eliminate Social Security and eradicate Medicare.

    Democrats should not give Republicans a free ride on their votes on the credit card and financial reform bills that passed this year. They should portray Republicans as "Wallstreeters" or "Big Bankers" who voted against the bill that prevents banks from raising interest rates on existing balances etc. etc. Republicans support big bankers and corporations so that they can continue to receive huge donations from these entities.

    •  Well, election theft has an effect too. (0+ / 0-)

      "For example, George W. Bush was able to be re-elected even though the economy was relatively poor, many billions of dollars were being wasted on the Iraqi War and numerous Americans were being killed or maimed by the war."

      Ohio.  Georgia.  Et cetera.

      But you're right that jingoism can be used to get people to do extra specially stupid things.  Goebbels knew that.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:42:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In other words, Krugman was right. (0+ / 0-)

    Obama needed to push for a bloody huge stimulus, one big enough to actually improve the economy, and then Democrats would have benefitted.  :-P

    -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

    by neroden on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:37:27 PM PDT

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