Friday, June 16, 2006

Good News? Bad News? It's Just A Poll.

Zarqawi's death seems to have given Bush a small uptick in the polls. (Or maybe not.) Unless more positive stories follow, however, Bush's numbers should drift back down to pre-Zarqawi levels.

Many Democrats are licking their lips in anticipation of the elections. But they're missing one point. Bush isn't running--not in 2006, not in 2008. And while the public may be soured on Republicans, it's not as if they suddenly like the Dems.

The real key is how many races are competitive. The vast majority in the House are pretty much sewn up. (This may not be the Founding Fathers' plan, but the two leading parties sure love it.)

As far as Bush's popularity, or the Iraq war's popularity, or the Repubs' generic popularity, these things tend to fade in particular races. Furthermore, politicians--especially members of the House--are highly attuned to the interests of their constituents. (As the Tipster used to say, all politics are local. Then Newt proved him wrong.)

I've been avoiding polls about specific races, since it's still too early. Remember, all it takes is one knockout commercial and you're back on top.

Nevertheless, things are looking good for the Dems. But how much can they celebrate (inside, I mean--outside both parties will claim victory) if they blow their big chance to regain Congress?

PS I think the Democrats realize they can't take anything for granted. The Washington Post ran an interesting collection of quotes on how to win Congress back.

Some of it is the same useless advice you always hear. Bill Maher says go for the jugular, as if they don't already do this. Bob Shrum wants a date for the troops to come home, which most Americans understand doesn't work. Tony Podesta says: "Watch tapes of Rep. Jack Murtha. Voters hunger for plainspoken talk about the challenges we face and what America should do to meet those challenges." I don't think he gets it's the media that's so taken with Murtha. When his ideas were put to a vote, even he didn't support them. Terry McAuliffe says "Throw focus groups and polls aside." Stop, you're killing me.

On the other hand, a number of big-name Democrats give sensible and sometimes tactical advice. Tony Coelho and Bill Richardson say don't let the election be about how bad the Republcans are (and how the Dems will retaliate if voted in) but on the positive things Democrats will do. Robert Strauss says go after all the Republicans, even in safe seats--put them on the defensive and make them spend money. Jack Quinn says talk about Iraq, but stress victory, not withdrawal. Donna Brazile advises the Dems to go after disaffected Republicans just as the Repubs went after blue-collar Democrats. Dee Dee Myers suggests they try to attract unmarried women and those who feel disenfranchised.


Anonymous Heartland Gus said...

I think I last read that analysis of how unchangeable House majorities are in early fall of 94. Then Dems had had a 40 year lock on the House and the sconomy was actually pulling out of the first Bush recession (and Bill's "pulling out" crises were still years away). Why was there such a swing that year and why was it missed by so many? Was it the goofy contract with America (broken within 2 years)? Arguably there were bigger issues on the line in other off cycle congressional election years. I think it was a combo of new tactics (Gingrich's) and both real and perceived arrogance of those in power. I'm sensing that same arrogance now. I think the dems just need a semi-coherent message (which may be impossible). [New Directions sounds (and is) the name of an executive outplacement/search firm]

2:19 PM, June 16, 2006  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Gus, I'm with you on perceived arrogance. I think most politicains are arrogant (don't you have to be?) but the trick is to hide it.

Neverthless, perhaps you've forgetten how immensely unpopular Clinton was in '94. His health plan had failed and many Americans hated him for even proposing it. Worse, he'd pushed through a huge tax increase which had undecideds hopping mad--even better, it passed by ONE vote so every single guy running against a Dem could claim THIS was the guy who made it happen.

Newt et all were able to nationalize the election on this unpopularity with highly effective ads.

Also, the trend of the South converting from Republican to Democrat was in full swing--instead of Dixiecrats, they were now voting for Republicans. (Some Democrats changed party).

Then there was demographics--the South and West were growing much faster than the North and East.

The Contract With America didn't hurt, though I think the way it was cluelessly attacked helped more. I wouldn't say it was that important, though remember every item had been polled and had very high support. I'm still not sure why the Dems don't try it--they have enough populist issues, such as minimum wages hikes, that they could put together something.

8:30 PM, June 16, 2006  

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