Patterico's Pontifications


2010: Demoralized Dems, selectively suicidal

Filed under: General — Karl @ 12:35 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The Democrats’ political erosion continues, even in the dKos tracking poll:

A good part of this has been base driven. In August, the Republican base was slightly more likely to view their party unfavorably (23%) than was the Democratic base (20%). Today, Democrats are four times more likely to view their party negatively (24%) than are Republicans (6%).

There has also been Independent movement, however. The favorability rating of Democrats among Independent voters has shed seven points in that four-month span (42 to 35) while the GOP has seen their favorability rating with Independents go up eleven points, although in fairness increases in support are easier to attain when you are starting, essentially, at zero (from 5 to 16).


We also see, in this weeks tracking poll, that while Democrats still lead on our variation of the generic ballot test (by four points), they trail for the first time with Independents. This is particularly notable, because the favorability rating for Democrats among Indies, while down quite a bit (35/61), is far stronger than that of the GOP among Indies, which is still pathetic even as it has improved markedly (16/73).

Pundits like Kevin Drum continue to fret over whether Dems are sunk:

Is lefty obsession with the public option going to torpedo Dems in 2010? Or will everyone manage to get energized in time for the midterms?

(Drum’s short piece is amusing, insofar as he admits his first instinct was to laugh off attacks on the Dems unprecedented spending binge, but I digress.)

Pres. Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, maintains that liberals will ultimately come back into the fold when it matters in forthcoming elections. He is almost certainly right — and, as far as he goes, it’s not even a gutsy prediction. As Tom Jensen of Dem polling firm Public Policy Polling notes, liberal unhappiness with Obama is not very widespread.

However, approval does not necessarily translate into intensity, which is the lefty bloggers’ real concern. Generally, the party out of power tends to have more intensity, while the past winners get complacent or apathetic. That the netroots are disgruntled matters primarily to the extent that it reflects on the narrow class of activists and party foot-soldiers needed to run the midterm campaigns. OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers recently wrote about the nature of that disgruntlement:

Destroying a political base often isn’t only about one single issue, even an issue as important as a war. It’s about a set of issues and, even further, an overall feeling of demoralization – one that can’t be turned around a few weeks before an election with some cynical press releases and inspiring speeches.

So sure, the politics of the Afghanistan War are still fluid. But when you put the escalation next to Obama’s wavering on the public option; next to his broken promises of transparency; next to his stances on the Patriot Act and Gitmo; next to his full-on abandonment of his NAFTA pledges – well, you get the kind of demoralization that Kos’s new poll shows.

Bowers may reveal a bit more here than he intended. The Left (and its echo chambers in the establishment media) have been arguing that the Democrats must pass ObamaCare to save themselves in 2010. But if some version of it passes, its substance is likely to disappoint the netroots/activist class, while still motivating Republicans and Independents to vote against Democrats.

Moreover, we rarely hear the netroots or activists pushing the idea that Obama’s policies on Afghanistan or indefinite detention will cost Democrats the 2010 election. The Left aggressively promotes the idea that global warming will destroy Earth as we know it, yet we rarely hear them claim that the Democrats’ failure to pass the cap-and-tax bill so far dooms Democrats next year. If Bowers is correct, passing ObamaCare should have very little effect on Democratic turn out in 2010. If Bowers is wrong, the Left’s selective kamikaze approach speaks volumes about the depth of their obsession with ObamaCare.


27 Responses to “2010: Demoralized Dems, selectively suicidal”

  1. The folks at Drum’s old blog are not worried.

    MAJORITY STILL MISGUIDED ON ECONOMIC PRIORITIES…. The polling has been remarkably consistent on this all year. And it irks me every time.

    Americans are more concerned with lowering the massive budget deficit than boosting the ailing economy, according to a new national poll.

    Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNBC survey released Friday morning say President Barack Obama and Congress should worry more about keeping the budget deficit down even if that means delaying the economic recovery. That’s 23 points higher than the 33 percent who feel boosting the economy should be the top priority, even if that means larger deficits now and in the future.

    This continues to be hopelessly backwards. Given the precarious state of the economy and widespread concerns about unemployment, common sense suggests concerns over the deficit should wane. But all of the recent polling suggests a majority of Americans really do care more about deficit reduction than growing the economy and creating jobs.

    The majority, then, is completely wrong.

    Wow ! We need to get some new voters !

    That stupid majority ! Who cares what they think ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  2. The big issue that appears to be finally forming in the center of many independent voter’s minds is the looming budget deficit catastrophe. The Dems have shown no willingness to even discuss what the CBO has been blaring about for months at this point, other than pay it lip service. Look at many of the polls, and this issue has grown from a nascent concern into one of the top worries among many voters – when you add the looming bankruptices of some of the states themselves, this could turn out to be an issue that they will ignore at their own peril.

    Dmac (a964d5)

  3. @ Mike K, Wow ! We need to get some new voters!

    Lol You perfectly nailed the clueless leftist thinking. It is the same group who thinks that running strong “pure” progressives against the incumbents in the blue dog districts will solve ALL their problems!

    elissa (b085d0)

  4. Young people and blacks turned out in unprecedented numbers in 2008 for emotional reasons. That won’t happen in 2010, which will field an electorate that would have elected McCain in 2008. Some of that will recur in 2012 (especially among blacks), but for 2010 it’ll be the folks who always vote. And they increasingly lean Republican.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  5. I realize that anecdotal evidence is just that, but I have a very good friend, very liberal — hated Bush, strongly supported Obama, etc.

    He and I were talking last night and out of the blue he started sounding very cynical toward the President — that the hope and change he was expecting has not happened and that things really haven’t changed.

    (Yes, I know, but I am repeating his argument, not mine)

    In any event, I am highly motivated for next year. Him? Not so much.

    Dave N. (58af57)

  6. What Karl outlines in his post ought to be a lesson to anyone, Republican or Democrat-sympathetic, that thinks the other party is “irrelevant forever.” We’ll see how the 2010 elections play out, but it’s pretty clear that anyone claiming their guys are going to have a permanent or 40-year majority can be made a fool of in the span of 1-2 election cycles.

    As long as the two major parties have massive fundraising resources, they won’t be snuffed out, regardless of any temporary losses they may take.

    Another Chris (470967)

  7. Americans are more concerned with lowering the massive budget deficit than boosting the ailing economy, according to a new national poll.

    Why wouldn’t they be? It’s not hard to see that the two go hand-in-hand right now. The government is the only entity in this depression that isn’t deleveraging its massive debt obligations. This is why tax receipts at all levels have fallen through the floor and why the banks aren’t lending–this is a credit-based depression, and people are frustrated that the government isn’t forcing themselves to cut back the way most citizens and businesses have been doing. The fact that there is about a $30,000 gap between what the average federal worker makes and what the average private sector employee makes just increases the frustration.

    The government is relying on the general public and private sector to spend themselves into bankruptcy again in order to keep the ponzi economy running. That’s the only way this whole system doesn’t take a hard downturn immediately, but the problem is that the longer this country doesn’t take its medicine, the worse the final tumble is going to be. Even Volcker got into the act:

    “We have another economic problem which is mixed up in this of too much consumption, too much spending relative to our capacity to invest and to export

    When Harding came into office he faced a recession due to Wilson’s wartime obligations and other spending programs. He immediately slashed government spending across the board, and though it caused a brief hard dip, the economy recovered quickly. Since Hoover on, the government’s response (with the encouragement of the Fed) has been to try and spend their way out of downturns, which has resulted in massive inflation over the last 80 years, the export of our industries overseas, and the devaluation of the dollar.

    With Obama and the current Congress doing more of the same, it makes perfect sense why people would be frusturated.

    Another Chris (470967)

  8. Chris, I have a post on my blog on just the topic of the 1920 recession. It was much worse than the 1929 crash although the cause was not as systemic a problem. Harding cut spending and the economy recovered in a year and a half.

    I really think the next five years will be de-leveraging by everyone except government. Democrats don’t understand that Keynes won’t work when debt is this high.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  9. It’s worth noting that Rasmussen has the president polling at his lowest recorded rating index today. Health care “reform” isn’t helping him either.

    MTF (6e6f07)

  10. Democrats don’t understand that Keynes won’t work when debt is this high.


    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  11. Actually, John, I think Keynes has gotten a worse reputation than he deserves. His basic principle was to spend in recession and run surpluses in good times. The net was a balanced budget. He did not understand that giving politicians license to spend was dangerous. The second half of his program, running surpluses in good times, was never tried.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  12. If Democrats arrogantly keep governing against the will of the people, they’ll lose so bad not even a UN climate scientist could deny the results.

    ropelight (6671b8)

  13. Rampant deflation would have been far, far, far worse than what we have today.

    the US spending a ton kept this from happening and also injected a lot of money into the economy at little cost to the government (in inflation). The US dollar actually deflated slightly as the US Government created a tremendous amount of money. That could have been a boon.

    But they have gone so far beyond this. They are still spending long after this major deflation risk. People seeking capital are competing against the government for investment money. There’s a lot of risk in the value of the Dollar, the tax rates in the future, and the economy in general (thanks to other ideas like health care ‘reform’ and cap and tax. If I ran the show, the economy would turn around. It wouldn’t be that hard. Tax holiday instead of trillion dollar stimulus. Balanced budget amendment (this would have a long term affect on US T-Bill investments and inflation forecasts).

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  14. Dustin, they are pushing a string and pushing it uphill, to boot. It will not end well.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  15. The other thing that we may not ever really recover from is TARP. Despite claims to the contrary, all it did was prop up a bunch of zombie institutions that still have a bunch of trash that’s being held off their books. The banks and investment firms essentially threatened to destroy the entire global economy if the government didn’t bail them out (remember when the DJIA dropped after the first TARP bill was voted down?), and then turned around and used all that future debt obligation to pump the stock market up on nothing at all.

    Bush’s (and Congress’s) biggest mistake was not telling these banks to go F*ck themselves for blackmailing the American people. If they were going to spend $750 billion, they should have given it to the FDIC and had them shut down the TBTFs and force them to sell off their trash assets to the highest bidder. Instead, we’ve got rot in the system that hasn’t gone away and that Obama is perfectly willing to let slide as long as the stock market stays above 10,000.

    Another Chris (470967)

  16. I like how now that everything is about to blow up to hell and gone in the Senate, the MSM is starting to refer to the bill as Reid-care instead of Obamacare. Good times.

    teranolo (c6873d)

  17. There was a brief chance in the summer of 2008 when Merrill Lynch sold some of these securities at auction and got 22 cents on the dollar. Had this continued, a market would have formed and the price (and therefore the value) of these securities would have been established. Instead, we got TARP and nobody would sell for less than the government was offering. Quickly, TARP became a slush fund as even the government realized that nobody knew what these things were worth.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  18. #11 Mike K.:

    I think Keynes has gotten a worse reputation than he deserves. His basic principle was to spend in recession and run surpluses in good times.

    And here I was thinking that he hadn’t gotten nearly the trashing he deserves.

    And I disagree that the second half of his program wasn’t tried: it had been implemented in a number of locales. What happens then is that Socialists/Dems (whatever you want to call them) run on a platform of more social programs because we can “afford” them, and after they spend us back into deficit, they run on a platform of spending us out of the deficit they just created.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  19. EW1, you just agreed with me. Thanks.

    I’m not a fan of Keynes because his concept is incompatible with politics but I think we should at least give him credit for not knowing how stupid politicians are.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  20. #19 Mike K.:

    you just agreed with me. Thanks.

    Sorta, kinda, Doc.

    Actually, I am going to agree with you again and point out that we should discredit him for not knowing how stupid politicians are.

    More realistically, I think the concept of stimulating the economy by government spending during recession is a classic case of believing that a command economy will produce something other than unicorn toots. Government isn’t well equipped: not knowledgeable enough, not nimble enough, not attuned to the market enough to ever make sound spending decisions that can be expected to affect the market positively as a whole. Further, given the friction created against the velocity of money passed through the government, we’d probably be better off just dumping money out of airplanes over populated areas that need stimulus rather than paying bureaucrats to flub it up.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  21. The other problem with TARP is that it set a precedent; hence, we now have the permanent bailout fund of Bawney Fwank’s finance takeover bill.

    Even if Dems lose big in 2010, we will have a hell of time unraveling all their boards and commissions and purging their newly minuted nomenklatura.

    Patricia (b05e7f)

  22. I can only speak from personal experience, so take that for its worth.

    There are four kinds of lefties in the United States:

    1. Committed communists who wish for a one-world government that makes everyone suffer equally. (I don’t choose the term “suffer equally” lightly).

    2. Young people who see injustice (including the weather) and believe the only solution is government fiat.

    3. Aging hippies and wannabe hippies who believe — and, I mean really believe — that they alone enacted civil rights, toppled Nixon, stopped the Vietnam War and got laid at Woodstock.

    4. Disenfranchised minorities who have a legitimate gripe.

    Take away number 4, and you have a whole lot of people who willfully wish away the beliefs, values and mores of the majority of the nation and are actually surprised when things don’t go their way.

    Republicans would do well to concentrate on 2 and 4 and try to find some way to appeal to them in a real, concrete manner. I don’t know that is possible considering its leadership.

    Nonetheless, the GOP can try to chip away at the left’s obvious pandering and dishonesty. It may indeed make inroads in 2010.

    I believe the only way to win in the long run is to construct a new, honest, conservative movement based on liberty, opportunity and economic freedom. That’s how the nation began, albeit with a severe handicap.

    Ag80 (6d4e1f)

  23. To reach #2 & #4 requires education.
    Too bad that our educational system is being run by #1 & #3 and is therefore disfunctional.

    AD - RtR/OS! (9bb379)

  24. #22 Ag80: Are you familiar with de Borchgrave and Moss’ work of fiction, The Spike?

    The reason I ask is that I think your observation of the makeup of Leftists here are pretty close. But simply identifying the types doesn’t seem to me to be enough to begin to draw up a plan of battle, excuse the phrase.

    In particular, I think that the second group you describe, “Young (and those who should know better –EW1) people who see injustice (including the weather) and believe the only solution is government fiat” have also been indoctrinated into the method and groupthink of the first group…the committed communists. So much so, that they themselves don’t realize that they are de facto communists themselves.

    I think that we are, again, working with a severe handicap~that the ideals of liberty, opportunity, and economic freedom have been so thoroughly vilified by the Left as building blocks of oppression that the concept of individual liberty and human rights are considered antiquated precursors to “social justice,” rather than being the antithesis of that collectivist concept.

    I guess I am asking if you see an effective route for reactionaries to follow in order to defeat the Borg? For surely, if the rewards of individualism and liberty can be shown more attractive than the rewards of bellying up to the trough, won’t the fourth group be inclined to join in?

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  25. EW1(SG):

    No, I never read that After looking at the link, I’m surprised I missed it, but there are a lot of books in the world.

    I agree completely that self-worth, enterprise and the ability to think freely have been compromised to the point of meaningless. For example, the noble notion of not polluting is now reduced to clarion calls for relegating people to hunter-gatherer sustenance and to stop human reproduction.

    How do you fight leftism, or the “progressive” movement, when progress has been redefined to denigrate the entire course of human events?

    How do you circumvent the whole notion of “a dog is a cat is rat is a boy?”

    To your question: How do you fight the Borg? (And, that is a dept name for them). My way is to to fight for truth and justice and to live life as an example, not as a duty. It should be so simple now, but it’s not.

    Another way is to give them what they want.

    Ag80 (6d4e1f)

  26. #25 Ag80: An oldie, but a goodie. I suspect you would enjoy it, although its dated.

    Another way is to give them what they want.

    That would be effective, but awfully damn painful.

    How do you fight leftism, or the “progressive” movement, when progress has been redefined to denigrate the entire course of human events?

    A succinct formulation, that.

    I think of “conservatism” as conserving, preserving, advancing the best of what we’ve learned over that course of human events. Ergo, conservatism isn’t racist (for example) because liberty is a value that is just as precious regardless of skin color. Or sex. It may have taken us a while to get there, but now that we have arrived at that conclusion…why are we being dragged backwards by “progressives” that would willingly institute a tyranny of the minority upon the rest of us? Confuzzling at the least.

    The muzzy goal of progressivism is to mold man into something he is not: to deny and reshape that makes us what we are, and is such doomed to fail. Spectacularly, as it did last century when so many paid the price with their lives and their misery.

    Better I think to shackle men to the pursuit of their own happiness, than to allow others to dictate it for you. A little truth and justice along the way certainly can’t hurt.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  27. #26 EW1: Typos my ant fanny. Dropping whole words out:

    … and reshape that which makes us what we are, …

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

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