Having it both ways

Tom Jensen on PPP's latest Montana polling, showing Baucus with shrinking support from Democrats, and popularity among Republicans long gone:

Baucus' plight is similar to that of a number of other Senators who tried to have it both ways on health care, watering down the bill but still voting for it in the end. Blanche Lincoln's stance, among other issue positions, alienated her base so much that she nearly lost her party's nomination. And it certainly didn't help her to win Republican votes in the fall, leading to her overwhelming defeat in November. Joe Lieberman's actions on health care have helped to put him in a most unusual position- his approval rating is under 50% with Democrats, Republicans, and independents, one of very few Senators who's managed to pull off that trio. And on the other side of the aisle Olympia Snowe's vote for the health care bill at one point in committee, even though she voted against it in the end, infuriated the Republican base in the state and has many folks hankering for a primary challenge against her.

Every voter has his or her issue that is, to them, indisputably the most important issue ever, but Jensen's conclusions show that every party also has a set of issues that support for (or opposition to) is a nearly foregone conclusion in the minds of voters.  Affordable health care was such an issue for Democrats.  Opposition to that same reform was a given for the GOP.

Baucus lost any popularity he held with Montana Republicans the minute he even acknowledged there was a health care reform effort to be a part of.  So you follow that up with a plan to water down the bill, weakening not only the reform, but support from the base you need even more, having lost the Republicans?  Genius strategy.

You're losing one side either way.  Why not give the side you still have everything they really want?

The choice was always either complete support of the strongest bill possible, or complete opposition to any reforms at all, and the electorate had shown that clearly in poll after poll leading up to Max's two month long delay crusade to be everyone's hero. 

Baucus' antics during the health care reform debate exemplify the Democratic Party's obsession with moderation (as defined by David Broder!) for moderation's sake and bipartisanship (as defined by Fox News!) for the media's sake, and now, for Baucus, it's coming home to roost.

Time to bypass this Liebermann/Blue Dog strategy for electoral "success."

Tags: Bipartisanship, Max Baucus, health care reform, public policy polling (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Mushy middle slaughtered

Surprisingly, 6 of the 20 most leberal House Republicans are gone: Cao, Djou, Castle, Ehlers, Kirk, and turncoat Democrat Parker Griffith.  Cao and Djou lost to Democrats in the general election.  Castle lost a primary for the Senate toa Tea Party candidate who was hugely weird (Christine O'Donnell).  Griffith lost a primary.  Ehlers retired and Kirk was elected to the US Senate.

As for the losing Democrats, 39 had Progressive Punch scores over 200 meaning around 71% of the more conservative House Democrats were shown the gate. 

Voters in 2010 wanted a clear distinction and clear direction, not moderation.

by David Kowalski 2010-11-25 09:03AM | 0 recs
"clear direction"

I'm not sure "Lieberman/Blue Dog" or "Mushy Middle" is the point here - I suspect the larger point is, on healthcare, that Republicans punished congresspeople of both parties for supporting something they opposed. It didn't work in every case (the point being that in especially safe, liberal districts, there was no appetite for making that statement), but it worked a lot, and it could, in 2012, continue to be a factor. And a larger lesson here is that liberal/progressive advocates made essentially no headway in the opposite direction - it's not as if a vote FOR healthcare was a selling point in many places.

Look, I don't like that Republicans won back a majority in the House, either; but I think a lot of the "analysis" we're getting in lefty circles post election is missing the forest for the trees: the point is... this was a big loss. And no one, really, seems to have good answers for how 2012 might play out differently. That, I suspect is the real lesson of the fact that Max Baucus - who shouldn't be in particular trouble in his state - is already polling badly this far out. That's not an isolated example either.... and the Senate races in 2012 look especially bleak.

Until lefty/progressive activists take a longer, harder, and more clear-eyed look at just what's turned voters off to voting for Democrats... and decide to make changes based on those assessments.... we're not likely to see some sort of magical reversal of fortune. Instead, I think too many Democrats/lefties are simply planning to sit around and wait for Republicans - and government generally - to fail over the next two years. That's a terrible recipe (for one thing, it won't help if Republicans make some headway on important issues), and creates a dynamic where Democrats will only win after people's lives get demonstrably worse. That's not something I think we should be hoping for.

 

 

 

by nycweboy1 2010-11-27 08:11AM | 0 recs
Jobs, jobs,jobs

Polls showed jobs and the economy as dominating the election.  Since Obama did not cure the problem or make substantial improvement, Republicans (with poor solutions) were the alternative.   The comparison with FDR (whose party continued to gain seats) is huge.

Voters punished Democrats for high unemployment and plummeting home values.  Current unemployment figures, the U-3, were redefined by Ronald reagan in 1986 to minimize the stated unemployment and make policies that were anti-inflation and pro-rich more palatable.  Comparable unemployment is really above 15%.  This really is the worst economy for most of us since the Depression.

Depression unemployment figures per Wikipedia were overstated as those emplyed by FDR programs like the WPA were not counted as employed.  The real figures per Darby were still astronomical but considerably lower, especially once the New Deal got rolling.

Darby's figures and the traditional Lebergott numbers were:

1933  D 20.6%  L 24.9%

1934 D 16.0%  L 21.7%

1935 D 14.2%  L 20.1%

1936 D 9.9%  L 16.9%

1937 D 9.1%   L 14.3%

1938 D 12.5% L 19.0%

1939 D 11.3%  L 17.2%

1940 D 9.5%    L 14.6%

1941 D 8.0%    L 9.9%

1942 D 4.7%    L 4.7%

1943 D 1.9%    L 1.9%

1944 D 1.2%    L 1.2%

1945 D 1.9%   L 1.9% 

GNP sunk to 68% by 1933 but was recovered past 1929 levels by 1937.

The deficit and health care were not the major concerns.

 

by David Kowalski 2010-11-28 09:54AM | 0 recs

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