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Tilting at Windmills

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July 3, 2010

WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW CAN HURT THEM.... Evidence of an "enthusiasm gap" between Democratic and Republican voters is hardly new, though it may prove to be one of the year's most important campaign dynamics. Recently, the trend became even more evident.

Gallup's latest poll measuring partisan enthusiasm not only showed Republicans with a sizable advantage, but found that excitement among GOP voters has reached a level with no modern precedent.

This week's report from the Pew Research Center found a similar partisan landscape: "Fully 56 percent of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections -- the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994.... The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party's voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign."

And 1994 proved to be a rather consequential year, as I recall.

But to me, that wasn't the most interesting part. This was. (via Suzy Khimm)

...Democratic voters this year are not particularly pessimistic about the election: 29 percent expect the Democrats to do better in this year's midterm, far more than the percentage of GOP voters who said that four years ago (16 percent). Nearly half of Democratic voters (48 percent) expect the party to do about the same this fall as in recent elections, while just 18 percent say it will do worse.

Wait, wait, wait. Democratic voters aren't nervous?

This is, of course, just one poll, and I haven't seen other outlets asking the same question, so it's hard to say with certainty just how widespread these attitudes really are.

But the Pew Research Center is a fairly reliable outlet, and if its reporting on this is accurate, it's really important.

Democratic candidates excelled in 2006, and had another terrific cycle in 2008. It's certainly possible that Pew's data is correct -- Democratic voters just don't realize, at least not yet, that the party's gains can entirely disappear this November, giving enormous power to an increasingly radicalized Republican Party.

If less than a fifth of Democratic voters expect Dems to do worse in 2010 than in recent elections, the party has no choice but to make the stakes clear.

To put it mildly, there's a very plausible chance the Democrats will lose their House majority; control of the Senate is in play; and there's no shortage of important gubernatorial races and ballot initiatives. There's also the consequential matter of post-Census redistricting -- the more Republicans are elected to state legislatures, the more lines will be redrawn to help GOP congressional candidates.

Republican voters, according to multiple polls, are practically counting the days until November, almost desperate to elect far-right candidates. If rank-and-file Dems seriously believe their party is positioned to do well -- indeed, if nearly a third of these Dems expect the party's candidates to do better than usual -- they're living in a fantasy world.

The awakening next January will likely be a rude one -- intractable gridlock, endless and pointless investigations, and a progressive policy agenda brought to an immediate halt. Hell, presidential impeachment might even find itself on the table.

This expectations problem is not lost on party leaders.

Architects of President Obama's 2008 victory are braced for potentially sizable Democratic losses in November's midterm elections. But they say voters' unease about a GOP takeover will help their party maintain congressional majorities.

"I think the prospect of a Republican takeover -- while not likely, but plausible -- will be very much part of the dynamic in October, and I think that will help us with turnout and some of this enthusiasm gap," said David Plouffe, who was Obama's campaign manager two years ago and is helping to oversee Democratic efforts this fall. Still, he put all Democrats on notice, saying: "We'd better act as a party as if the House and the Senate and every major governor's race is at stake and in danger, because they could be."

That sounds about right. If Democratic voters realize that a radicalized GOP is poised to make significant gains in November, Dems are more likely to show up to prevent that from happening. The combination of Democratic successes -- breakthrough legislation on health care, student loans, Wall Street safeguards, etc. -- and Republican hysteria seems like a capable antidote to the enthusiasm gap.

But that means the party has quite a bit of educating to do over the next four months, because if Pew's research is correct, the Democratic rank-and-file has no idea how devastating the elections might be.

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (71)

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Comments

Does "more enthusiastic" mean they get more than one vote per republican?

Posted by: bcinaz on July 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Does "more enthusiastic" mean they get more than one vote per republican?
Posted by: bcinaz on July 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Only in states with electronic voting machines...

Posted by: RepubAnon on July 3, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I see my group of 18% has a ton of work to do.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 3, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

If there is a way for the Dim Dems to blow an election they will find it. Bush fatigue in 2006 and 2008 swept the Dems in, but the inability of Harry Reid to control his big majority, countered by the lock-step discipline of the Rethugs, has made the Dems look positively impotent despite the watered down bills that have passed.

Why anyone with an income less than $100,000, which is a huge majority, would vote for the Rethugs is a mystery. Things are likely to get a whole lot worse again. It's disgusting.

Posted by: rrk1 on July 3, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

On a more substantive note - the test will come at Labor Day, the infamous time for "rolling out new product."

I'm hoping that President Obama and the Democrats, having given the Republicans so much rope, are capable of turning the elections into a necktie party. Unfortunately, I doubt the conservative media will play along with Democrats the way they'd play along with Republicans...

Posted by: RepubAnon on July 3, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

When you talk to Dems or read blog comments, you really realize how short memory spans are. You hear a lot of complaining about how disappointed they are in the Dems and Obama, blah, blah, blah.

I share those disappointments, but the main motivation I've always had in voting Dem is to KEEP THE GOP OUT. I know it's bad to use the political "N" word (and I mean the four letter one with a z in it), but that party right now is totally nuts, and that nuttiness would be vindicated if they win big.

Posted by: g. powell on July 3, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I find it hard to get interested in polls on voter enthusiasm in July. I like the DNC's anti-Republican ads that are out now, but I don't want them to really ramp it up until October. Also, I expect the Republican base, aka the teabaggers, to wear themselves out between now and Election Day.

Posted by: hell's littlest angel on July 3, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK
Why anyone with an income less than $100,000, which is a huge majority, would vote for the Rethugs is a mystery.
Let's see:
  • So that their government continues to look and sound like them.
  • So that they get to keep their guns.
  • So that at Jesus' name every knee shall bend.
  • So that foreigners shall tremble before our might.
  • So that women, and the gays, and the coloreds, remember their place.
  • So that the little they have, and get, doesn't go to the folks above, even if it means wealthy people who don't give a rats' ass for them or their troubles get most of it anyways.
  • So that all change will stop, now!.

I can build a political party on that, and win elections on that. It's really not that difficult, human nature being what it is, to build a political party on that, and win elections on that

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 3, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid a lot of Dems will stay home to "punish" Obama for not being sufficiently leftist. Glenn Greenwald has been crowing and congratulating himself about how good it is that the Democratic party has been forced by left-wing challengers to spend money on primaries that they could otherwise save for the general election. So, I'd just say this to them: I hate the war in Iraq, I'm as disturbed as you are about the morality of drone strikes to carry out targeted assassinations, and I wish there could have been a public option in the health care bill. But Ralph Nader has the blood of tens of thousands of people on his hands for helping to throw the 2000 election to Bush and so will you if you give control of Congress to the likes of Michele Bachmann and Sharron Angle.

Posted by: T-Rex on July 3, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I have already received my fund raising letter expressing panic over the fall elections.
To my way of thinking party affiliation in local and even state elections means very little. Congress on the other hand will probably even out somewhat. As long as Mr Obama is President the silliness of the Republicans will be evident and it will take it toll on their party in time.

Posted by: hornblower on July 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Well said, T-Rex. And I would add this not Bush's GOP anymore. It is far crazier. And any progressive who sits it out in November is effectively voting for the GOP.

Posted by: g. powell on July 3, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

As an independent I used to pride myself on never voting a straight ticket. As the Republicans have gotten crazier & more ideologically rigid, I've dropped that pretense.

That doesn't mean I'm a particularly enthusiastic Democratic voter, especially after last night's vote to pour another $30 billion into our Afghan misadventure.

As a wrote in a recent letter to Joe Biden, Democrats might want to be concerned when the only reason an educated independent voter can find for voting for them is that their opponents are even crazier and more removed from reality than they are.

Posted by: Enon on July 3, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I, for one, have been very worried.
I expect ignorance from the R side of the electorate. Great! Now, they're ignorant AND fired-up. FOX, Rush, Glenn, Sean, Ann, Michelle, get them ignorant, and now will work to keep them stoked.
For D's NOT to know what's going on worries me. We're supposed to be smarter and better informed. Is there a false confidence? WHY?!?!?!?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 3, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty Zen about the fall. I am certain that all will be fine, since Obama is leading the party and the dude's a Jedi.

Posted by: CityGrrrl on July 3, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think there's been a Democratic party, Steve. Not for years, not in the sense of being an effective political and moral organizing force. The most recent (and awful) effort was the DLC.

For some reason, progressives have virtually faded from sight. I've been watching (again, for maybe the third or fourth time) Costa Gavras' "Z." I was in that place at (southern Europe) that time (end of '60's) watching similar events evolve, political and police reactions. I don't see a whole lot of difference in the politics between then and now.

There is a ever-present pull towards authoritarianism. "Constant vigilance" went out of style in the US decades ago. We're faced now with a serious and (as we'd probably see it) painfully self-sacrificing effort to fight that pull. We've forgotten what the fight even looks like, much less how we might engage ourselves in it...

Posted by: PW on July 3, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

The argument can be made that the only way to get America back on its feet again is to self-destruct and have a rebirth. That means that giving the Republicans all the power they need to destroy American society is the only way forward. I'm not sure that the suffering that would entail is worth it, but I do know that if the Republicans win, they will destroy the country the way they already are with their willingness to let the economy go to blazes in order to get power for themselves and the way they already did during Cheney's eight years in power.

When was the last time that the Republicans did anything FOR the country instead of TO the country? My own recollection is that it probably was when Eisenhower built the interstate system.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on July 3, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

CityGrrrl -- that's a joke, right?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on July 3, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently not a very good one.

Posted by: CityGrrrl on July 3, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I am one of those Democrats whose enthusiasm for the mid-term elections is low. I watch what our majority in both the House and Senate have (not)accomplished, the constant naive meme about "bi-partisanship," the continuation of war funding, the continuation of corruption within the bureaucracy (e.g. MMS and oil companies regarding waivers of environmental studies prior to allowing drilling), constantly watered down bills that DO pass resulting in far inadequate changes (no public option?), and the Obama administrations continuation, even escalation, of the violation of civil liberties issues and the "looking forward not back" approach to war crimes by the previous administration. Yes, I am not enthusiastic. The ONLY reason I will vote is to keep the even crazier Right out of power as much as possible, but I feel like I'm voting for the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: winddancer on July 3, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty scared, too. Of course, I do know that we're likely to lose seats that we shouldn't have won in the first place, but the non-nuanced Beltway media will pronounce those seats lost as part of the "Republican tidal wave".

The Dem leadership has to start spending money and pounding over and over again in TV ads, internet ads, radio ads, etc, the extent of the problems this nation will have if the Republicans regain power. This has to be pounded in again and again - one central message, tailored for individual district consumption.

And the "progressives"! Don't get me started on them. They are as politically retarded in their own way as the Tea Baggers are on the other side.
Did they really think Obama was going to suddenly "cure" things on January 20, 2009? Are they so politically naive that they didn't realise the giant hole Obama and congressional Dems were operating from in merely getting the country back on the right track after eight years of Bush/Cheney? Are they that stupid that they'll take their ball - votes - home because Obama isn't "progressive" enough? As far as I'm concerned, geniuses like Jane Hampsher and Glenn Greenwald deserve the America they'll get if the Republicans regain power this year. The rest of us don't.

I can deal with the Tea Baggers and their blind hatred of Obama and the Dems, but I can't stand the same sentiments from OUR side. "Progressive babies" - grow up.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on July 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

WOW! What a bunch of negative people! I think the Dems they 'polled' aren't worried because they don't believe in the POLLS OR the media. It has been ALL conservative ALL the time. The only thing we HEAR is how fired up the GOP is, how the tea partiers are gone take everything back, how we're all going to hell BUT they know THEY'LL VOTE and they will vote DEMOCRAT. Everytime I talk to a 'waverer' I point out the years from 1994-2006. Do YOU want to go back? I send them Jon Stewart segments showing what a bunch of lying hacks the GOP is, point out how NO REGULATION (passed by the GOP) is where we will go back to and they nod and say yes they get it. They're bitching but they GET IT. Negativity breeds negativity. You wanna WIN? Then get out there and talk to everyone you know. The media won't help you.

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 3, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

@T-Rex

I'd be sympathetic if the Dems hadn't worked for decades in lockstep with the Rethugs to ensure that, as much as possible, our only effective choices would be the two parties, and had instead worked for IRV (instant runoff voting) as the British, Australians and Irish have (at least in some elections).

If we're not out of Afghanistan when the 2012 election rolls around, I'm not voting for Obama, but for whatever anti-war candidate is on the ballot. This time I'm voting my conscience, let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: Enon on July 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not especially worried. Not because I don't take the Republican threat seriously, but because I've seen what that "enthusiasm gap" is worth in races like the most recent Pennsylvania special election.

I also remember how we were supposedly so jazzed to drive Bush from office in 2004, and look how that turned out.

Finally, even if I'm not super enthusiastic, I still plan to vote. The Republicans scare me and I actually don't think the Dems have done too bad a job.

Posted by: wildone on July 3, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing:

People who are genuinely afraid of a Republican takeover will presumably come out and vote to stop it happening, but will they say yes to a pollster who asks them if they are enthusiastic about it? I doubt I would.

The "enthusiasm gap" is cause for concern, but I don't think the Republicans will end up doing nearly as well as they're hoping. I don't say that because I think Democrats can sit on their hands and still win, but because I think the G.O.P. are not really playing their "advantage" very well. They are actually going to have trouble running on a national platform because of the ideological diversity of their candidates. And with the virtual demise of the RNC, there is no central organization to keep the party in line.

Posted by: Splitting Image on July 3, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us that understand the threat of Democratic losses are those that have been screaming the loudest about Democratic failures during the first year and a half of the Obama administration. We're also the Democrats that will most definitely show up and vote on November 2nd.

The rest, as usual, is up to Obama to make sure as many as possible of the new voters that showed up for him in 2008 show up again and vote Democratic this fall.

I can scream all I want about how much the Democrats suck but there's really no alternative but to make sure as many of them are reelected as possible, but it's not going to provide the push needed to persuade those that lack motivation. Obama's got to do that, and I trust that he will.

Posted by: NealB on July 3, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Remember 2000" should be the watchword of this elections for Democrats in the doldrums about the upcoming election.

Posted by: NealB on July 3, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just enthusiastic enough to show up on election day and vote straight Dem. Will I be wearing a rictus grin while doing so? No. But I remember 1994-2006. I'm not interested in reliving that time. Greenwald is not entirely wrong, it's good to push the party from the left, but only as hard as possible while still keeping those frothing lunatics on the right away from power.

Posted by: Joe Bauers on July 3, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK
Those of us that understand the threat of Democratic losses are those that have been screaming the loudest about Democratic failures during the first year and a half of the Obama administration. We're also the Democrats that will most definitely show up and vote on November 2nd.
Objection your Honor -- assumes facts not in evidence. Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 3, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

This week's report from the Pew Research Center found a similar partisan landscape: ‘Fully 56 percent of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections -- the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994.... The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party's voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign’.

And 1994 proved to be a rather consequential year, as I recall.

The reality is that the total votes cast for Republicans in campaigns for the House in 1994 was LESS than the total in 1992. The difference was that Democrats stayed home. I don’t know whether they thought they had accomplished the change that was needed in 1992, or whether they bought into the RightWing propaganda that Clinton & the Dems had raised taxes on everyone.

But I agree they have to find a way to light a fire under the voters.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 3, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I am always amused at how the Left, chronic defeatists, slam the Dems for always grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. Any time Obama accomplishes something, most of what I hear is "it's not enough" - OF COURSE it's not enough. IT never is and that's why you should congratulate yourselves on another step taken and then keep going. Not throwing down your signs and go back to looking for the next best thing. The Left and Dems need to start selling our wins, we need to show how the GOP will govern and we ALL need to say it over and over and over.

And there is nothing wrong with 'the other guys are worse' or 'it could have been worse tactic.' Sometimes it works.

Posted by: Alli on July 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

I trace it back to the last inauguration. Republicans saw all those Obama lovers descending on the capitol and viewed them the same way they would view the entire Soviet Army marching up Pennsylvania Avenue. They view this election as a good chance to drive the invaders into the sea. It's not just the legislation that's been passed which I'm sure many readers of this blog feel is moderate, perhaps too moderate. But Republicans feel violated.
Democrats, on the other hand, view Republicans as people with ideas they don't like. Most don't view them as a force that must be destroyed.

Posted by: Art Hackett on July 3, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's up to the Democrats to give voters a reason to be enthusiastic. Democrats were once the party of working people. When they decided to be the party of Wall Street, they gave up any real distinction from the Republicans. Now, all they have is "we're not quite as crazy as those guys", which might be true but doesn't make a catchy campaign slogan.

Posted by: cnmne on July 3, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Dem party thinks we should be worrried. Oh, and giving them money. So a poll that shows *we're* not all that worried is worrisome.

A Republican majority beheads people you know.

Posted by: flubber on July 3, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well, now's the time then to find your Organizing For America people and get out there and start working on getting people to be sure to vote or to register for the first time. I haven't been enthusiastic about jumping back into this political thing (we worked on the Obama campaign almost full time between the primary and the 2008 general election), but my husband and I found ourselves walking in a holiday parade today for OFA and I guess we're in it again!

Posted by: Varecia on July 3, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the above has some validity and relevance, and if we add it all up there is good reason for Democrats to worry, but is it piling on to bring up another factor that is not in the discussion? I get that holier-than-thou liberal purists can make the world worse than it is now, and that right-wing thirst for power is an awesome thing to behold. But I believe the importance of "lame-stream" media (Palin can turn a good phrase) is not fully measured or credited.

It's a two-front war: the right-wing media is in complete control of its 20% of the electorate and the "Village elite" (Digby can turn one too) hammers a lock-step message that the conservative agenda is "mainstream," real polled opinion be damned. Democrats like me see the danger of Republican gains, but can we really believe the daily propaganda? It buries polls that show the American public with distrust for the conservative agenda, distaste for the tea people and basic support for Democratic (and democratic) issues. I see and hear news of these views only in "left-wing" journalism, rarely on CNN or NBC or NPR, and there's not enough of it to form broad perspective. So, we cannot quite believe the most pessimistic crap served daily, but we cannot get a reliable measure of progressive prospects.

For me, confusion and lack of good information are the biggest factors in Democratic apathy. So, I think our best choice is to concentrate on local candidates issues, where we can get reliable information. The national picture is too polluted for clear understanding.

Posted by: Brownell on July 3, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

In some sense Obama has shown the true color of the dominant wing of the Democratic Party.

It is moderately liberal, barely enough to keep the hoi polloi from shouting too much, but always on the side of the entrenched power whenever it conflicts with the interests of the people at large. On torture, on war, on Wall Street bailout, on so many other issues, it has done nothing to contradict such a conclusion.

Posted by: gregor on July 3, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

How about we be grownups, for god's sake, and realize that it's our freaking civic duty to vote, and that in all the history of the US, "lesser of two evils" is the choice we get in the vast, vast majority of cases?

The "enthusiasm gap" thing makes steam come out of my ears. Voting for politicians isn't voting for the fucking Most Popular Person in fucking high school. It's making a reasoned and considered decision about who is less likely to drive the country over a cliff. It's being aware that whether or not you vote, and who you vote for, will have consequences for more people than just you.

And the people who are all "Well, I can't support the Dems or Obama because they didn't do [insert issue here]" are complete civic FAILS. If the past 11 years haven't shown them the utter folly of using their vote or non-vote to "send a message," then there is absolutely no point in even engaging them.

Posted by: CaseyL on July 3, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats had better emphasize the extreme negatives inherent in Republican victories and NOT spend a great deal of time trashing the left. They have to decide if they want to be right(if they are)or win. Pompous self-indulgent tirades against the left play into the real(if they are) enemies' hands.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 3, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

"...Let's see:

* So that their government continues to look and sound like them.
* So that they get to keep their guns.
* So that at Jesus' name every knee shall bend.
* So that foreigners shall tremble before our might.
* So that women, and the gays, and the coloreds, remember their place.
* So that the little they have, and get, doesn't go to the folks above, even if it means wealthy people who don't give a rats' ass for them or their troubles get most of it anyways.
* So that all change will stop, now!.
Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 3, 2010 at 11:43 AM.

Hell, those are all the reasons they are bound to lose not win. It is only those 20% with big mouths spouting this crap that mobilizes the rest of the country to vote against them except in already compromised areas like TX etc. You could get elected in those areas with this crap but not in most or a majority of areas of the country. These nuts have been exposed and once exposed people will be motivated to get them out of our government.

btw...it is normal to both support and criticize Obama and the dems at the same time while understanding how horrible and devastating the alternative would be. It is the republicans that will be swept out of office. The country is tired of their obstruction and insanity. They are done for.

I remember how many kept threatening the dems would lose big and Obama was gonna' lose but the nation overwhelmingly voted to get rid of repubs. The same thing will happen now. They are no longer capable of being a part of our democracy's government. It is more likely the dem party will split in two.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 3, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Steve - A couple of things missing from your story. Are they also missing from the poll?

1) Is there a geographical breakdown? Because if the enthusiastic GOBPs are from the South and other normally red states, all it really means is that the margins will be larger, not necessarily that significantly more GOBPs will be elected than normal for a new President's first mid-term.

2) Also remember that, outside the South, registered GOBPs are a minority. Their national number is 33%, but the South gives that number much more weight on the national scale.

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/party-id-rl.php

Posted by: efgoldman on July 3, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

CaseyL makes a really good point.

Posted by: PW on July 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Is it that dem voters aren't worried, or that they don't care? The direction of the country under obama and the democratic congress is about as conservative as it was under bush. A lot of us feel that it really doesn't matter who wins because the outcome will be the same in terms of policy and that policy will be determined by corporations.

Although I'll vote and I'll vote dem, I won't be enthusiastic about it.

Posted by: CDW on July 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

[...] it's our freaking civic duty to vote, and that in all the history of the US, "lesser of two evils" is the choice we get in the vast, vast majority of cases?
Posted by: CaseyL on July 3, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Thank you, Casey, for reminding us of that perspective and returning us to sanity.

I became a citizen on July 4th, 1984 (at Monticello, yet! Talk about symbolism) and, within a week of receiving the certificate, my husband drove me to the City Hall (I didn't drive then) to register to vote, *precisely* on the principle that with privileges come obligations and voting is one of them.

I've voted in every election -- local, state and national -- ever since (tough not in every primary). But it was almost always a vote for the lesser evil, a vote *against*, not a vote for. The kind of "singing in my heart; run, don't walk to the polls" enthusiasm? In all those years, it happened only once -- in '08.

I think, BTW, that that's a part of our problem (at least it's mine). When I voted out of obligation, I didn't invest much of myself, so that, when the guy I voted for fell sort of the ideal, I was not dismayed (if I was even aware of it). With Obama, I watch the guy's every move (via this and other blogs), so every failing becomes a drama and a trauma.

Posted by: exlibra on July 3, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

my fall slogan...don't give the carkeys back to the guys who ran it into the ditch

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 3, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

True in general, bjbotts, but make no mistake: the math in an off-year election, the math in a nation where the young don't vote their weight, people of color don't vote their weight, the unchurched don't vote their weight, and the elderly, the white, the church-going vote disproportionately, in a country where people vote their fears and not their hopes, then the math is different.

And the math in a two-votes-per-state Senate is very, very different.

We're not governed by chapter 3 of the Statistical Abstract of the United Stateschapter 3 of the Statistical Abstract of the United States

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

CDW: "...The direction of the country under obama and the democratic congress is about as conservative as it was under bush..."

Not quite. But why would you expect it to be hugely more progressive when we didn't really have a true majority because of DINO'S and Blue Dogs? If there is a valid criticism to be made its that Democrats are still not very good at playing hardball and thus allowed Republicans to continue to shape public perception. How else did we go from health care reform as a major voter issue in the '08 general election to Grifter Palin's death panels?

Posted by: Varecia on July 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Enthusiasm gap? You have got to be kidding.

The democratic party has continued to milk the "lesser of two evils" shtick even as its rightward drift has accelerated. Their reliance upon it is utterly pathetic. They have ceased caring whether people support the party for substantive reasons, content only that voters will take counsel of their fears on election day. They are fools, and incompetent ones at that.

Posted by: JL on July 3, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

The democratic party has continued to milk the "lesser of two evils" shtick even as its rightward drift has accelerated.

With Republicans you at least know that they will endorse torture, invade countries on false pretenses, treat non whites as second class citizens, and engage in other nefarious things to make life miserable for all thinking Americans.

The Democrats pretend that they won't, but they don't- they do nothing concrete to alleviate the problems.

Posted by: gregor on July 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face it folks, the real problem is in the Senate. If our Senators gave a flying fig about the people they would be fighting for us every day wimping out behind the filibuster rule. If Reid and the Senate Democrats had any balls they would drop the nuclear option on the filibuster. We all know the Republicans will the next time they get a chance.

The Senate Democrats are performing a little dance to pretend they are working for us, while they are really winking in agreement with their Republican brothers.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 3, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

If we lose the House, O will be impeached. Issa has already stated he will double the ethics investigators to look at the WH

Posted by: cat48 on July 3, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

If Republicans gain control of Congress after November, it will only show how stupid the American electorade has become. Stupid is as Stupid does.

Posted by: Bonnie on July 3, 2010 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

". . . And any progressive who sits it out in November is effectively voting for the GOP."

Wow, I never get tired of this old scare tactic.

Put some progressives up. Then I'll vote. I'm not gonna bother to vote in order to retain the same bunch of spineless wimps and blue dogs.

Posted by: getaclue on July 3, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

assessment region down broader

Posted by: heardwinef on July 3, 2010 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

@ getaclue

Put some progressives up. Then I'll vote. I'm not gonna bother to vote in order to retain the same bunch of spineless wimps and blue dogs.

Since all congressional elections are local, and all senatorial elections are at the state level, are you suggesting that you're going to sit it out where you live because primary voters in some other district or state nominated someone you don't like? That's just foolish.

If the person you don't like is in your district or state, are you a local party activist? Did you work for someone else's nomination? Or have you just decided to take your ball and go home?

Something both the Teabaggers and the Firebaggers probably won't ever realize: politics and government are activities for grownups. Acting like three-year-olds is never going to solve anything.

Posted by: efgoldman on July 3, 2010 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

@efgoldman -

I agree that not voting is foolish, but there are some places where voting for a dem is basically a waste of time. Oklahoma, for one. There's not a chance in hell that a dem will win a national office except in "little dixie" where conservadem dan boren is from. It's not called "little dixie" for nothing. It's full of yellow dogs who just haven't caught up with the rest of dixie in voting republican.

Posted by: CDW on July 3, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Doom and gloom to the far horizon. I don't know how much faith you put in polls, but here's a little something to cheer you up - from the far, far-right Washington Times, no less:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/1/obama-trumps-reagan-academics-say-in-survey/

That's right, Obama comes in at number 15, higher than Saint Ronnie. And the survey wasn't sampled from the often-cloddish electorate, either; it comes from a group of "238 historians, presidential scholars and political scientists".

That's good and bad, I suppose. It's good because it's from people who could be expected to offer an opinion based on the actual qualities that make a good president, rather than how often he says "Jesus Christ" when he's not swearing and how much fun he'd be to have a beer with.

It's bad because it's not from people who render their vote based on how often the candidate says "Jesus Christ" when he's not swearing, and how much fun he'd be to have a beer with.

Posted by: Mark on July 3, 2010 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a Democratic voter my entire life, but recently I learned it was "fucking retarded"* to actually expect my party to support me after I have supported them.

Well, I agree. It would be "fucking retarded" of me to vote for a party that doesn't support me so I will vote for those candidates that support my views. If this means we get impeachment hearings because the Democratic party loses the majority, well, that would be because the Democratic party did some "fucking retarded" things and screwed their base, and that's "fucking retarded".

*Specific use of the term "fucking retarded" was not specifically granted by Rahm "fucking retarded" Emmanuel.

Posted by: Glen on July 3, 2010 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

How enthusiastic voters are on July 4th is irrelevant....it's how enthusiastic voters are on ELECTION DAY which matters.

The GOP has been in full-out campaign mode pretty much since the day Obama got elected...of course their voters are more enthusiastic right now. When Dems start seriously campaigning after Labor Day, their voters will become more engaged as well.

That said, Obama has done very little to enthuse the base. From failing to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, declaring support for off-shore drilling, adopting Bush-administration positions on many civil liberties issues, and failing to do anything significant on environmental issues, and failing to even fight for single-payer, there are a lot of liberals out there who are less than satified with him.

Posted by: mfw13 on July 3, 2010 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

mfw@9.25p - but Obama and the Dems HAVE done a lot since he took office. Like trying to prevent Bush/Cheney's recession from turning into a depression. They passed HCR - maybe not as progressively as you wanted, but we can begin to amend it in the future, if we maintain our Democratic majority. He has done a great deal more in his 18 months, but basically, he's stopped - so far - the US's downward slide.

He was NOT taking office in January, 2001, with a large budget surplus and a fairly good economy. Nope, that all went with Bush/Cheney and their eight years in office. I think he's done a superb job so far, dealing with the political "realities" he's had to face. No, he might not be progressive enough for you, but he's damn good.

Please see your way to vote Democratic this November.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on July 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Fighting THIS TYPE OF POLITICAL BACKLASH is why I post here and am proud to be part of the team.

Posted by: steve on July 3, 2010 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

"...so I will vote for those candidates that support my views." Glen @ 9:07 PM.

Why do I doubt ANY Democrat ever held views that you could support?

mfw13, first I don't recall Mr. Obama saying anything about getting out of Afghanistan during the election. He did say Iraq was the wrong place for us to be and is getting the troops out of there. I would, I admit, be much more supportive of the Afghanistan war if more attention was paid to actually assisting the Afghanis in improving their lives economically and politically. If Karzai continues to operate as an old-fashioned Afghan warlord, we should cut our losses and get out; any other action would be wasted effort.
Regarding deep-sea drilling, I think you may have conflated the administration's agreement to allow further lease sales and exploration with the Deep Horizon disaster. There is no reason not to continue exploration and, probably, deep sea drilling, provided sufficient safety precautions are met; something that BP failed to do with in the Gulf.
And once again, it all comes down to votes and at present ALL the votes have to come from the Democrats in Congress as there isn't a single reliable Republican vote for ANY Democratic legislation. If it makes you feel any better, or perhaps just not so bad, the Blue Dog Reps and ConservaDem Senators are fairly good example of the old, long-gone sane Republican Party pre-St Ronnie. At least they can be bribe...I mean, reasoned with.

Posted by: Doug on July 3, 2010 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

""Fully 56 percent of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections -"
Now, Ned wonders, what "fully" means here? Is it just another way to try to sway opinion? Having said that, Ned feels that Obama is playing with fire by trying to "triangulate" as did Clinton, and thereby losing his base. But what does Ned know?
Ned
http://chumpsandlosers.blogspot.com

Posted by: Ned Pepper on July 3, 2010 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'd second Enon's comment on July 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM.

3rd-party candidates have as much right as anyone else to run for office. As a nation we're ill-served when we allow the first-past-the-post system to yield undemocratic outcomes. IRV is one good solution to this problem.

Every Democrat in power who'd failed to put electoral reform on the agenda is at least as responsible as Nader for the 2000 debacle.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 4, 2010 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

"progressive policy agenda brought to an immediate halt"

Yea, right. When did the reform agenda exactly start? Because from where I'm sitting I see very little real reform, a whole lot of corporate giveaways, and a ton of broken campaign promises.

Obama & the corporate corruption wing of the Democrat party like to use the "progressive policy agenda" before elections to blow smoke up our asses- and then after they get elected, they label their corporate giveaways with nice spiffy reformish labels and then they pat each other on the back for fooling the rubes yet again.

Sure the radical Republicans are worse- and the D's might just get to keep their pathetically compromised "majority" because of all the insane teabaggers the Republicans nominated, but "not as bad as the other guys" is hardly the most motivating of campaign slogans.

Posted by: spiny on July 4, 2010 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Cat48? What are they going to impeach Obama FOR? I don't care if they DID take power, it they did that it would make the US a police state and we'd be marching in the streets. VOTE dammit, and tell everyone else to VOTE. And those of you that want to vote your conscience? Do vote your conscience and remember what happens when you don't take EVERYTHING into account.

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 4, 2010 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

There does seem to be a disconnect between what Obama has accomplished and the amount that he has asked us to participate.

The change to the student loan program was fantastic. But it seemed to happen and vanish. It doesn't get talked about. Nearly everyone got a tax break last year, but that too seems like a secret.

It may be that President Obama's attempts at bipartisanship are undermining the Democrat's strength. You don't hear the R's talking about getting along with the D's. You certainly didn't hear this during the time the R's were in power. They would pull legislation if they couldn't pass it without D support.

How are we supposed to be enthusiastic about supporting the President when he keeps trying to make nice with the people who are adamantly opposed to him.

Having said that, I'm fired up to participate this election. I'm very fearful of what the R's could do if they got control of even one house of Congress.

If the R's gain the House then you'll see a string of hearings day after day investigating one thing or another in the Obama WH. And all of those hearings will be amplified on Fox and discussed to death on the radio and in the newspapers. There will be a string of stupid bills passed in the House against abortion, lowering taxes, in favor of gun ownership, helping the wealthy, helping the banks, helping the polluters. None will pass and become law but they will fill the airwaves with legislative pollution.

Posted by: JohnK on July 4, 2010 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

As I sit here in pre-Fourth weekend fog, it suddenly hit me: Maybe what the poll is showing isn't reason for the Dems to push the panic buttons after all. MAYBE the polls are reflecting the fact that most (hopefully still a strong majority!) people ARE paying attention, but WE'RE TRYING TO FREAKING SURVIVE DURING THIS GOD AWFUL RECESSION and we don't have the time nor energy to e-mail Congress everyday nor give a vocal hoot as the loons get all the corporate press these days! We see the Right are bat-guana crazy and can't get anywhere near adult responsibility again for at least a generation, and we're DAMN SURE gonna show up on Election Day even though we're not "enthusiastic" as the delusional, self-sustaining right, as they turn further and further towards completely zero-sum politics in the most odious of manners.

Bottom line: Its hard to be enthusiastic about "politics" when your life and dreams hang by a thread, and tomorrow's choices don't include watching the 'pundit's dance' on cable. We'll get enthusiastic when the elected figure out its hard to cheer when your drowning...we need to save our energy for more important things. GET TO WORK...WE GOT YOUR BACK!!!!

Posted by: tonyroma on July 4, 2010 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Oh for God's sake, vote Democrat. You won't be "showing" any Dems how powerful you are by staying home. All these guys, from Obama on down, have already won personally. If they get booted out of office they'll just get even more entwined with big money by becoming lobbyists or lawyers or whatever. As the cliche goes, you never hear about homeless congressmen.

I am tired of hearing about how we need to make the Dems more progressive OR show them that we're sick of them by staying home. False choice, we must do both. And if sometimes that means sucking it up and voting just to keep the Republicans out, so be it. Not every vote you will ever make in your life is a liberating testament of personal virtue.

Because it has struck me in the last couple of years that when the right gets upset with their national party, they work from inside to take it over. When the left gets upset with the closest thing they have to a party, they often threaten to vote for an ineffectual third party candidate. Or to not vote at all.

You tell me which approach works best.

Posted by: sweaty guy on July 4, 2010 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

What are they going to impeach Obama FOR? Posted by: SYSPROG on July 4, 2010 at 12:34 AM

For being black.

This has been another installment of "Simple Answers To Simple Questions."

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 4, 2010 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody ever hear of Dennis Moore. He is a longtime Democratic congressman from Overland Park KS. His seat will probably be won by a Republican this time, but it should be a Republican seat. We are talking about Kansas. Moore held on to his seat election after election because the Republican party in Kansas is divided into two camps--moderate conservatives and absolute wingnuts. Being highly organized the wingnuts win every off year election. They tend to be the nuts who try to teach creationism in the public schools. Every cycle the wingnuts would nominate some teabagger kinda candidate to run against Moore. They lost every general. Dennis Moore made a career attracting moderate conservative Republicans and Democrats.

The message is Democrats can win in this environment. They just have to work harder and smarter than their wingnut opponents. They have to peal independents and traditional Republicans away and leave the Republican party with it's fringe candidate base.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 4, 2010 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

I forgot to mention that Moore is retiring at the end of this term.

Another Kansas Democrat who made a career doing the same thing is Kathleen Sebilius.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 4, 2010 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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