Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast writes politicians think voters are more conservative than they really are
|Here's something we posted last night at Democracy Journal from David Broockman and Christopher Skovron. They thought of asking a question I've never seen anyone think to ask before. Last year, they asked more than 2,000 state legislative candidates from around the country what they thought the political leanings of their constituents were. Specifically, they asked the candidates to estimate what percentage of the voters in the districts where they were seeking office supported: same-sex marriage; a government-run universal health-care program; the abolition of all federal welfare programs. Then they matched those to existing polling.
Answer? From the authors:
Not surprising, in a way. But startling. The typical conservative candidate in their survey overestimated the district's conservatism by 20 points. The typical liberal candidate overestimated the conservatism by around 5 percentage points.
|When we compare what legislators believe their constituents want to their constituents’ actual views, we discover that politicians hold remarkably inaccurate perceptions. Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points.
What is more, the mistakes legislators make tend to fall in one direction, giving U.S. politics a rightward tilt compared to what most voters say they want.
The authors didn't really get into why candidates have these perceptions beyond saying that politically active citizens tend to be older and more conservative, but I think it's pretty obvious that a whole set of factors in most places creates this misperception. Conservatives are often more vocal. Liberals, especially outside cities and university towns, are probably a little cowed. In most places the local social establishment that dictates the agenda will tilt right. The local newspaper is probably conservative. Rush Limbaugh and all those other fat mouths are on the radio. There's often a local public-affairs radio host who is just about as conservative.
So here's another organization some rich liberal ought to fund: a group that tells legislators what their constituents actually think, and that organizes a district's progressives to make sure the accurate perception is reinforced.
These 24 people just became MacArthur fellows. They will receive $625,000 paid out over five years. No strings attached. “This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program. “They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”
I am blessed to know two MacArthur fellows personally: Pam Solo (1989) and Patricia Limerick (1995).
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—A Fair Test:
|A lot of pixels have been spilled on the votes and strategy that Democratic Senators cast and employed regarding the Roberts nomination. I think we all agree on one thing, as a practical matter, the voting and and strategy on Roberts was not about stopping Roberts - Dem leadership could not hold their caucus for a filibuster, even if they were so inclined - but about influencing the next nomination, due from Bush in the upcoming week.
My position on why the voting strategy, if it was that, was wrong is here. […]
But Ed Kilgore raises a different possibility:
I hope Ed is wrong. That would mean that our Dem Senators voting yes really don't care much about the Supreme Court.
|I think we should all be open to the possibility that Democratic Senators voting for or against Roberts are actually doing so for the reasons they publicly state, just like all us bloggers and activists who have weighed in on the subject in recent days.
Tweet of the Day:
On today's Kagro in the Morning show
, Cruzapalooza concludes-a! Greg Dworkin
rounds up the chatter on Ted, polling on the shutdown, and the new, low health insurance rates. Joan McCarter
joined us, and we discussed the big differences between U.S. Senate filibuster rules and those Wendy Davis faced in Texas, plus procedural strategery on the CR and the debt ceiling. Other stories: ethics committee dismisses Vitter's complaint. Legislative business grinds to a halt. The ultimate Congressional perk: the Office of the Attending Physician. The Church Committee vs the modern NSA. Movement and another looming crisis on judges. Starbucks and guns. 401(k) FAIL. Fuzz2347's
comment on gun insurance.
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