Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CONGRESS SUCKS....There's plenty of stuff to chew over in the latest New York Times/CBS poll. War and terrorism continue to be by far the most critical issue with voters; George Bush's approval rating is still low; Congress's approval rating is practically subterranean; and Democrats are way ahead in the generic congressional ballot. You can read the whole thing here.

Just for fun, though, here are the two questions I feel like highlighting. We're all familiar with the us/them syndrome in opinion polls (schools suck but my school is OK, Congress sucks but my congressman is OK, etc.), but today's poll takes this to new heights. Apparently, 14% of voters approve of their own congressman's job but nonetheless don't think he or she deserves reelection. Now that's a crowd in a nasty mood.

Kevin Drum 9:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

That gave me a good laugh. Thanks Kevin.

Posted by: jeremy on September 20, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

I just wish I had reason to have the faith the the current Democratic leadership could take advantage of this.

Posted by: Keith G on September 20, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, 14% of voters approve of their own congressman's job but nonetheless don't think he or she deserves reelection.

Those 14% are probably Ned Lamont supporters. *Snicker*

Posted by: Al on September 20, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Another example of the incoherence of a large proportion of the American electorate. Reminds me of the polls in 1994 that showed that fully a third of those who approved of the Contract for America couldn't name a single one of the provisions.

Strongly held but randomly determined opinions do not a wise polity make.

Posted by: just sayin on September 20, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, 14% of voters approve of their own congressman's job but nonetheless don't think he or she deserves reelection.

Just to be nitpicky....Deserves re-election + Depends + Don't Know/NA = 53%. Im sure some of the people like the job their congressperson is doing and think they dont deserve to be relected, but I think it probably isnt the 14% you got.

Hell some people may think their congressperson is doing a crappy job and think they should be re-elected. Isn't that the same rationale that got us 4 more years of Bush?

Posted by: zAmboni on September 20, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Those 14% are probably Ned Lamont supporters. *Snicker*"

Do you even *think* about what you are typing? Kevin's point wasn't the number but the fact that even incumbent supporters want a big change. What does that say about Der Fhrer's so-called leadership? *snicker*

And if the Roving bandits are planning a military expansion just in time for the elections, one could easily imagine them awakening to a radically altered Wednesday-morning landscape.

Posted by: Kenji on September 20, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

See the questions on torture and ways to try suspected terrorism -- Majorities DO NOT support the Bush positions. Most Americans do not think it's acceptable to torture and most want trials.

Posted by: asf on September 20, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

zAmboni beat me to it.

Those 14% are those who have internalized the GOP motto that "incompetence is strength", and so refuse to vote for those whose job performance they approve of.

Posted by: Disputo on September 20, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to be given two free-floating votes that I can use to vote against someone else's Congresscritter. Now that would be something.

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Really, it's not so crazy for people to approve of how someone is doing his job, but want to replace him.

It's the same logic that inclines management to fire a baseball manager when the team sucks, even if he hasn't been doing a bad job, considering. In the end, some new blood needs to come in to shake things up, and firing the manager -- and probably only firing the manager -- makes the appropriate statement.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 20, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Albot doesn't even make sense--Lamont is not the incumbent. Hmmm. Randomizing feature flawed there I think.

But seriously, this Congress has been worse than inept and greedy. The worst President in history served with the worst Congress. As I said in 2004 on this blog, when I labeled him as the earliest lame duck in history the second after the second "oath" of office: it would be better if there was no Congressional action at all. Even voting forward budgets from FY 2000 uniformly to today would have put us in a better position.

We just lived through the fifth anniversary of the worst security lapse in American history. And the press wants to present "a bounce" for the architect of the disaster. America is VERY angry. And very suspicious. From the 2000 election to the egregious lapses in the recent Mexican election, Conservatives have been playing fast and loose with Democracy. And we know it. Turn off the MSM, and educate your neighbors.

Posted by: Sparko on September 20, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

It could be the strictly anti-Republican sentiment that Rothenberg mentioned the other day. I'd say there are Republicans in the northeast who are popular but will suffer for the fact that they are essentially enablers of the Bush agenda.

The only way to change direction is to vote out Republicans--even if they are OK. That's what I take from that.

Posted by: gq on September 20, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

US: Pitchforks and torches!


THEM: Diebold, bitches!

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Those 14% probably live in districts where the democrats are generally competent, but still want to surrender to terrorists by leaving Iraq and making sure terrorists are never arrested. Even if the democrat is good on other things, that's too big a lapse in judgment.

Posted by: American Hawk on September 20, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt the majority of those 56% would pick another 9/11 over torture.
Posted by: Thomas1 on September 20, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Spineless pussies.

They do not deserve freedom.

Give me Liberty or give me death!

Motherfucker.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt the majority of those 56% would pick another 9/11 over torture.

If preventing another 9/11 - or just preventing dandruff - was the result of torturing you, I'd be all for it.

But, you know, nothing personal. Just trying to prevent needless suffering. Or dandruff. Whichever.

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Same answer from Thomas1 as from Charlie.

Curious. (he mused, rhetorically).

Again, I say; that's a pre-1776 mindset.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

There are lots of times that answers to particular questions seem logically/cognitively incompatible with with answers to other questions.

I think that now would be a good time for my district to get a good new representative as well. However, I mostly approve the incumbent's performance, and I intend to vote for him because his challenger is a non-entity.

When I lived in New York I voted for Alphonse D'Amato once because his challenger was awful. When Charles Schumer ran against D'Amato, I voted for Schumer. One is a little to my right, the other to my left; each is embarrassing, but Schumer less so than D'Amato.

Too many of these questions compare an actual incumbent against an unknown challenger. Once the challenger becomes known, the incumbent looks better than before.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Torture or 9-11. And we thought the administration didn't give us choices. Chuck, you are a piece of multi-alias work.

This administration has given us torture AND 9-11.
And record deficits. And worldwide humiliation. And substandard health care. And increased global warming. And devastated coastal cities. And a broken army with thousands dead and wounded.

But propaganda makes it all better. There is a Bush bounce you see. Maybe not 29% popularity.
Hard to see what motivates Charlie if it is not sado-masochism.

What happened to brosz anyway? Did he finally get sick of the job and start working for Lamont?


Posted by: Sparko on September 21, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

They ask whether Iraq, terrorism, and immigration are their most important or among their top three issues:

75%: Iraq
70%: terrorism
55%: immigration

Oddly enough, I think the vast majority of that 55% do not favor the massive legal or illegal immigration that the GOP and Democratic leadership supports.

Despite that number, feel free to ignore what those people want and push instead for amnesty.

No, really, the Dems should punch the pedal to the amnesty metal.

-- Immigration Wiki

Posted by: TLB on September 21, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

I should have made this clear: those percentages are for the "among the top three most important issues" part of the question.

P.S. No, really, go for it! Maybe even more Democrats should turn out to support foreign citizen making a show of force in U.S. streets.

Posted by: TLB on September 21, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

TLB -

You note, correctly, that the GOP is heavily invested in encouraging illegal immigration. Then you spend all your time somehow propping up the idea that this is all a Democratic plot to, um, I'm not sure what. You were almost there - now drop the reflexive "Dem == bad" twitch, and you'll stumble onto the truth. You can do it.

Posted by: craigie on September 21, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Sparko >"...What happened to brosz anyway?..."

Still floating out in the Pacific in that raft w/a slingshot awaiting that missle from N. Korea I suspect

"The only barrier to a successfully sustainable planet is ignorance." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Posted by: daCascadian on September 21, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of disapproval rates, what about this new TV stuff? They've spent alot of money making shows that look as good as the ones from the seventies...

...And about the same technical details.

Jericho, for instance.

I don't know where I'm supposed to be 'curious' at the details (ala Lost) or be annoyed that they're so wrong?

Posted by: Crissa on September 21, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

When did Charlie say "That could easily be arranged, OBF"?
Posted by: Thomas1 on September 20, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

When I used the "give me liberty or give me death" quote on him (you).

Same fascist response.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 21, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Thomas1 actually doesn't know he's Charlie. That would explain a lot.

Posted by: craigie on September 21, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

And the sooner those bastards deport the greasy spic who ran off with my wife, the better.

Posted by: TLB on September 21, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, 14% of voters approve of their own congressman's job but nonetheless don't think he or she deserves reelection.

That's not what the question says. They were asked whether "it's time to give a new person a chance". I can think of circumstances in which I think the incumbent is doing a good job, but they should nonetheless give somebody else a go --- if they've already had a long innings, or if someone even better was putting their hand up.

Posted by: Robert on September 21, 2006 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

osama-

Spineless pussies.

They do not deserve freedom.

Give me Liberty or give me death!

Motherfucker.

I'll bet you don't care so much about "freedom" or "liberty" when it comes to Social(ist) (In)Security, Nationalized Health care, Public education, etc. all paid for by a coercive system of progressive taxation...

Posted by: I am AlGore's sweaty backfat on September 21, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

Optimistically I'd say that this shows that people still believe that we are a nation 'of laws' and not 'of men'. GWB and his ilk claim that 'they' will protect the 'Homeland' any and all laws be-damned. It is our Constitution that is our real protection no matter what 'cult of personality' occupies the corridors of power.

Posted by: Bathrobespiere on September 21, 2006 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

Someone has probably got this already, but your inference is clearly mistaken. Someone could disapprove of his or her congressman's job performance, and still think the congressman has done well enough to deserve reelection.

Posted by: Matt on September 21, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Matt's correct - somebody already thought about it. All you can say is "at least 14%" approve of their congressman's job but do not think he or she deserves re-election. DK/NA has 12% response, so it's inaccurate to say to say that those 14% support somebody else's election.

Al is of course, completely correct, when he says Ned Lamont supporters want to vote for Lamont even though they support Joe Lieberman's performance at his job.

I'm sorry - I had to try to type that to see what it felt like.

Thomas is also completely correct when he says 56% is "barely a majority". After all, it's only 12 points higher than 44%! He's also correct to simplify the situation, distill it if you would, to the point where the only two alternatives, and they are mutually exclusive, mind you, are "another 9/11" and torture.

Writing from my office in London, a block from Tavistock Square, I feel comforted that this nation's adherence to the policy of facilitating Bush's torture policy has kept the UK terrorism-free* for the past five years!

*well, with the exception of a day or two, that can be discarded as experimental error

Posted by: Rick on September 21, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK
Apparently, 14% of voters approve of their own congressman's job but nonetheless don't think he or she deserves reelection. Now that's a crowd in a nasty mood.

Huh? Its very easy to think someone is doing more good than bad and yet think that its likely that someone else would do better, especially during a campaign season where the question is not really abstract, but concrete alternatives are in my mind. Nothing "nasty" about that.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

mhr - the LA Times is a socialist hate-America rag and nothing it says should be trusted!

Posted by: American Huckster on September 21, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

The poster "rmck1" is a SOCK Puppet!

"Evidence of SockPuppet Activity"

"More evidence"

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