Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 20, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WHY THE SOCIALISTS WON....PART TWO....Why did the Socialists win the Spanish election last Sunday? Or, to put it more accurately, why did they suddenly come from behind when the PP party was ahead up until the bombings? As near as I can tell, there were four major reasons:

  • Polls show that the Socialists were catching up anyway. They might have won even without the bombings.

  • The bombings simply caused an upsurge in interest in the elections, which in turn caused a higher turnout (63% vs. 55% in 2000). This benefited the Socialists, who usually do better when the turnout is better.

  • The populace was enraged at Aznar for lying about ETA being responsible for the bombings and took it out on him at the polls.

  • Voters thought Spain had been targeted because of its support for the Iraq war and voted for the party that had promised to withdraw Spain's troops.

In addition, of course, the number of people who actually changed their vote was quite small, probably no more than 5% of the electorate.

More than likely, all four of these things had some impact, but when you put them all together and then stir in the approximately 5% who actually changed their vote, what do you get? At most 1-2% of voters switched their votes because they hoped it would appease the terrorists and prevent future attacks. So sure, appeasement might have been a factor in the vote, but if so it was almost certainly a very, very small one.

Of course, this is one of those times that I wish I could read other languages, because the only way to know for sure is to read the local press and get the results of exit polls and later surveys. I haven't seen any in the American press, and since I can't read Spanish I don't know if any such surveys have been done since the election.

Still, I do wonder why American conservatives were so quick to loudly blame the result on cowardly appeasement. Not only is it both very unlikely and enormously insulting, but it's hard to see how it helps their cause. Wouldn't they be better off trying to downplay it?

Kevin Drum 3:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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