DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... It's great to have a blogger inside the Democratic National Committee.

One of the things that happens at every DNC meeting is the polling report. Our pollster is a man named Cornell Belcher, who has a firm named Brilliant Corners. He's been the pollster of record ever since Dean took over.

The current numbers were from studies done in February '06, just prior to the Dubai ports deal finally entering national consciousness (thank you, Chuck Schumer!), so I think we can assume things continue to trend our way.

Below the fold, distilled, is what Mr. Belcher had to say:

The coalition that elected Bush is in shambles. Voters no longer see Bush as honest or trustworthy. Corruption has moved into the top tier as a voting issue...thanks to the constant repetition of the phrase "culture of corruption" as well as the steady drumbeat of scandal emerging from the Republican ranks.

The two most dominant issues are Iraq and homeland security. Voters, however, do not interpret "homeland security" as "fighting the terrorists in Iraq." They are looking for a broader version of security that includes hometown security, port security, retirement security, healthcare security. These are all issues that Democrats fare better on.

So-called "faith voters" are starting to break away from the Republicans. As you'll remember from post-2004 analysis, the faith voters voted for Bush because he was "a strong, decisive leader " (27 percent) and "has good morals" (39 percent), not because of gay marriage (7 percent). Now, those voters are starting to understand that perhaps the Republican values are not those they share. Faith voters have moved from a 36-54 split toward Republicans to a 41-48 percent split. They're still trending Republican, but these voters are more concerned than the entire universe of voters about corruption in government. They do not believe  that "taking care of the greedy and screwing the needy" is the right direction for the country. Although they're falling away from the Republicans, Democrats do have a lot of work to do to win these voters over.

The Democrats have experienced a decline in white voters since LBJ signed the civil rights bill. In recent times,  45-46% of the white vote has been considered great for Democrats. Recently, the polling has indicated that a majority of white voters would vote Democratic in the mythical generic congress polls.

Women are leading the way jumping off the Republican ship. Polling indicates that southern women are starting to lean towards the Democrats. As one woman in a focus group said, "Katrina showed that the Republicans have no morals." Women who believed that Bush was "good people" no longer feel that way.

Focus groups to gauge the mood of the country found that people are unsettled. they describe the state of things as "disappointing,  chaotic, unsettling, disturbing." When questioned further, they point out things like "the stock market's up 200 points, but GM is laying off thousands" or "After 9/11, anything could happen at any given moment. Bush said he was going to do all this stuff to make things safe, and nothing's happened." People are insecure--not just about terrorism, but about their families and jobs, their future and their retirement. They're worried about internet predators coming after their children, and they're worried about gas prices and health care.

Belcher said that this feeling opens the opportunity to talk about a broader vision of what security means: to Democrats, security means a lot more than sending troops to Iraq.

You've all seen the polls indicating that 59-60% of Americans do not like the direction in which the country's heading. What's surprising, is that that number includes 58% of the people in the so-called red states.  When people are asked with no prompting, they indicate that their top reasons for discomfort are the war in Iraq (31%), their dislike of Bush (15%), the economy (11%), dishonesty--this is new to show up (7%), and the budget deficit (4%). When the question is seeded with a list of issues and voters are asked to decide how bad a problem is on a 1-10 scale, Iraq has begun to distance itself from the rest of the issue field. Social security and health care have leapfrogged over terrorism and homeland security. Apparently, the more Bush pushes his Social Security and Medicare plans, the more anxious people get.

Southern women are especially anxious about the war in Iraq.

When asked why they don't like Republicans, the top reason people give is Iraq. Another 25% say they "just don't trust Bush anymore." When asked if they "feel safer with Republicans" or "think the country needs a change in direction," more people (49% to 45%) say that the country needs change.

Many voters feel that the Republicans have too much power.  Belcher said that they had drafted  their questions using the same language as Republican talking points. When asked if they agreed with "people shouldn't question the president" vs. "we need a broader vision of security," people chose the broader vision of security by 73 to 20%.

One interesting statistic that got the crowd laughing was that, at present, gay marriage is more popular than Dick Cheney.

That's all the good news. Questions from the audience were interesting.

What about Iraq? It's the elephant in the room. Belcher said that in spite of that being the number one issue with voters, Democratic leaders had not yet coalesced on what to do about it. (This obviously frustrates many DNC members, including me.) We can all agree that things need to change, and that resonates with voters.

Belcher also said that we need to address the disappointment of voters who are upset about voting rights. A large portion of the African-American believes the election was stolen, and it's been shown that there was voter suppression in Ohio. The challenge is to get people to vote again--when they feel their vote may not have counted the last time.

He was asked about impeachment. Belcher responded by saying that there is a fear that impeachment would do for us what it did for the Republicans--it would energize their base voters.

Tags: Democratic Party, DNC (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans


there is a fear that impeachment would do for us what it did for the Republicans--it would energize their base voters.

I don't get this - is he saying that when Republicans impeached Clinton, Republican base voters were energized - and "there is a fear" that when we impeach Bush, it will energize Democratic voters?  That's not something I fear.  If he's saying that impeachment either way energizes Republican base voters - why is it heads I win tails you lose?  What's the logic here?

by carlmanaster 2006-04-22 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

When Clinton waws impeached, his approval rating rose to 60% because people felt that it was a political ploy.  If we try that against Bush, unless some earthshattering evidence is revealed, I predict a similiar type of backlash.

by jkfp2004 2006-04-22 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

The impeachment of Clinton WAS a political ploy. I think Dems are really going down the wrong road on this issue. Democrats should remember that voters can distinguish between an impeachment for a political ploy and an impeachment because a president has broken the law by 1) lying to Congress to initiate an illegitimate war; purposefully distorting intelligence to sell that war; and certainly failing to prosecute that war successfully; planning to initiate further wars using the same strategy, thereby putting the entire country at risk of backlash. 2) Criminally corrupting and endangering our fiscal security by running up huge deficits while enacting tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and putting the US into bankruptcy waging his illegitimate war 3) Bush admitted to violating FISA. Breaking the law is an impeachable offense, lying to Congress is an impeachable offense, and bankrupting the country is an impeachable offense. By NOT stressing these facts, Democrats look like the party of political expediency when they shy away from doing what is right for this country. Voters can see that Democrats don't want to talk about it out of fear of uniting Republican voters. People in this country are looking for leadership, principles, courage. That is what they originally THOUGHT they saw in Bush; by avoiding the issue, Democrats are just shooting themselves in the foot; they prove that they are just as unethical as the GOP, party uber alles. If they won't do it before November, I hope AFTER the 2006 election, Democrats will find the courage to do what is right, and at least put the arguments out there for debate, because I believe the people in this country are hungry for PRINCIPLE over party.

by Tennessean 2006-04-23 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

As I understand it, what he means is that Republican voters are really de-energized right now. Impeachment could re-energize them. Remember that impeachment got Dems re-energized when they went after Clinton.

He said this in response to a question asked at the end of a session. Sorry I don't have better information.

by Jenny Greenleaf 2006-04-22 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

Thanks for the clarification.  I don't think it's a valid concern (but what do I know?)  Republicans are able to manufacture outrage out of nothing, so whether we give them plausible fodder or not they will exploit outrage to energize their voters, and I think their base are sufficiently out of touch with reality that whether there is the reality of a legitimate impeachment for that outrage - which I hasten to add is not a reasonable basis for outrage - will make no difference.

by carlmanaster 2006-04-22 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

A part of me agrees with Jenny and the pollster, and another part sees the recent turnout of the Dem base in special elections and I'm scared our base is just burned out.

I understand that if Republicans aren't energized, we win. But I think the numbers of folks who were on the fence in 2004 but voted for Bush can't face the cognitive dissonance of thier mistake. I see them just NOT voting.

What we need is something which will either A) get those former fence-sitters to admit they screwed up and pull the lever for the D. or B) something which excites our base but not theirs in counteraction.

As for the latter: It's not gay rights. It's not impeachment. The Dubai Ports deal tries to do option A.

I think we can pull of option B if we frame "security" in many races as 'healthcare security' 'retirement security' 'job security' 'port security' 'mine security' 'voters rights' ie. 'civil rights'

we are entitled to this security. they are our rights as citizens. they are our civil rights...  our ads should feature MLK's speeches from 1967 and Rosa Parks and hold up the legacy again to be the party of civil rights.

Or come up with another frame to try option B

thoughts?

by dereau 2006-04-22 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

That's exactly where the DNC is going.

People in this country aren't just frightened about terrorists: they are worried about their retirement, their healthcare, their children's education.  Real security addresses those issues.

by Jenny Greenleaf 2006-04-24 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC Polling Report from New Orleans

I've also seen the message work, for former fence sitters who we want to vote for the D, that they're not voting for the Dem -- they're voting for our system of checks and balances.

It sounds hokey, but it's worked in every race I've been on where I'm canvassing or writing for an audience of angry Republicans.

Their hatred of Dems is visceral. It's emotional.

Appeal to their intellect, show that it's empirically unwise to vote for the Republican when every branch of government is Red.

And then I lie and say 'If these Republicans are not pleased with the way things are operating in Congress, i contend that it's not necessarily because the GOP is out of ideas and bankrupt... (fingers crossed behind my back) but it's because the brilliant constitution of our framers is calibrated to work properly when there is checks and balances and accountability.

This guy gives a good checks and balances speech in a swing to Red NY district. His opponents negatives don't go up, but his positives go way up. He's suddenly 'sensible' and the emotional knee-jerk vote goes back into the realm of ideas...  And we can win from there.

by dereau 2006-04-24 06:19PM | 0 recs
Impeachment

The question is:  Are there legal grounds for impeachment?

If there is then it must be done--because in life there should be Accountability.

If there is no accountability then it will be free for all--the wrong will go unpunished.

Impeachment should not be about polls.

What was wrong about Clinton's impeachment--it was political.  Impeaching a president for a trivial private matter.

Bush--invading another country for false reasons consequently spending $300 billion and thousands killed and maimed.  So what if it galvanizes his base--it needs to be done.  

by jasmine 2006-04-23 06:27AM | 0 recs

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