The simple interpretation is that average people don't have clear, fixed, opinions about what rules to make about abortion. They do know they don't want to deal with them. They are wary about making rules for other people on the matter.
Here's what happens when the serious political question is posed, i.e. do you want Roe v Wade (and the rules it set) overturned.
I think the polling shifts on subjective questions according to the sense of the political atmosphere.
Serious events do shift numbers in a strong way. Polling on Roe went from 46/44 (with 10% Undecideds that were known to lean to upholding) to 56/35 in under a week when Sandra Day O'Connor announced her intention to resign in August 2005. (There was a sense prior to that that a good chunk of the anti-Roe support by moderates was unsolid.)
I wasn't able to find good polling after the Alito confirmation and what happened to numbers after the Carhart majority verdict. But during the past year or two there has been a a sense of doom setting in on the 'pro-life' side. The Tiller shooting has really reinforced the fatalism. There was a lot of upset and ultimately resignation about the University of Notre Dame being able to resist the orthodox Catholic pressure against giving Obama a platform.
My sense of the numbers and trends and political blocs is that in ten years, there won't be much of an organized 'pro-life' movement left.
I think the major distorting factor is the continuing fact of Al Qaeda/ObL existing unpunished.
The only way I've been able to make sense of all the crap and popular behavior involving Al Qaeda is that The People and George Bush made a murder pact after 9/11. He and his people would kill ObL and the top AQ people, and 'we' in turn would agree to ignore all the lawbreaking and morality violated that it was going to take. It was held to be that exceptional of a matter. (The reason why it is this level of exceptional is more interesting than anything else about it.)
'We' the People have held our word better than W did. It's one of the many absurdities of the deal.
There isn't such a thing as "Judeo-Christianity". It's a concoction of the 'Christian Right' that no actual Jews or Judaism are associated with.
And it the anti-homosexuality doctrinal stance is a result of grossly exaggerating Pauline comments. The credibility given this exaggeration is due to Nature deism beliefs, i.e. pagan syncretisms into Christianity, about an Order Of Nature. Violations of which the Gods punish, of course.
The 'Christian Right' is basically a movement dedicated to the defense of paleopagan syncretisms into Christianity.
You're not going to get very far trying to argue its case here. If there is a God, S/he is higher than the crap miserable paleopaganizing idiots foist on the world in Her/his name.
Btw, Jesus of Nazareth teaches that being a powerless tiny minority and doing actual good is the preferred mode of living his teaching. Being a political haranguer angling for a majority, not so virtuous or useful.
Oh, it's not that complicated in some ways. Conservatism is about maintaining and forming aristocracies; shabby aristocracies, maybe, but definite believers in their superior status and desire to defend it.
The Beltway establishment has become that way during the 40 years of Republican reign. Very old Democrats, Republicans, conservative Democrats, simple toadies and minions, and little feudal lords of no particular partisan beliefs...that is what the place has filled up with.
There was a time when that was quite inevitable, with a simpler electorate with narrower interests and competences. In LBJ's Presidential campaign what is now called 'the Bible Belt' was still called 'the Yahoo Belt' in its memos. (Perhaps even worse in conversation.)
I wouldn't say that reality has changed entirely, but the haughty purview from the Beltway has become wrong. Not so much because The People is so much wiser, but because the electorate has become more generally knowledgeable. The Beltway has slipped, relatively, and because of aging, probably also absolutely.
Chances of Congress doing anything involving guns in the next 5 to 10 years are pretty close to zero. There isn't an obvious warrant for it, the action is all at state and local levels. Or rather, the national story is the slow but steady extinguishing of gun nut fervor and gun nut credibility.
Immigration is tough, but other than economic forces doing their work the only historical solution that has not created an unmanageable pile of misery, bureaucratic exhasperation, and injustices in its wake is amnesty.
Interesting. That is the ecosystems angle of things in the Rockies and West.
The other side of the story, the human economic one, is the overexpansion of cattle ranching in and west of the Rockies, and with it the near sociopathic sprawl or isolationism of white settlement during the late 1800s.
Cattle ranching is unsustainable, unprofitable, and in retreat in a lot of the West. It has done a lot of ecological damage in the Southwest, i.e. arid neardesert that takes a long time to recover. Arizona, Utah, New Mexico are pretty hard hit.
Personally, I think the federal government ought to quietly buy up fading ranches and ranchlands in the West. A lot of owners are pretty old and their children have long decided that their work lives are elsewhere, in nearby cities. Maybe the way to go is buying options to by at a set price on death of the owner. Or buying the land and giving lifetime yearly renewable lease at a nominal lease amount
In places like the Olympic Peninsula, the way to go would include limiting and ultimately reversing sprawl development, i.e. measures to concentrate population.
I disagree. Having an excellent Senator in the majority easily beats having a great House Rep in the majority, hands down.
Democrats do have a good number of seats to spare in the U.S. House. And in New York State the story is that an upstate seat is going to disappear in 2012 and the enlarged surviving House districts there are going to get more Republican voters.
To me the 2010 election looks to be an election of small net change in partisan numbers at this point at all levels. I think it will be an election of ideological repolarization and (resulting from that) further geographical consolidation by both Parties.
My impression of this is strongest from looking at the national picture of 2010 governor races. Then looking at the state legislature and Congressional election picture, the situation seems about the same. Incumbent, often moderatish, Republicans seem to be retiring/term limited and fading out in Blue States and Blue districts. Incumbent conservative Democrats are retiring/term limited and fading out in Red States and Red districts. Neither looks likely to be replaced with someone from their own Parties.
It won't all look like near default, strong vs weak mismatches, of course. Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Arizona should be battlegrounds.
I suspect Stevens and Ginsburg are simply letting Time decide what happens. Quite a few Culture War issues are tipping toward victory of the liberal point of view in the national electorate, so the state legislatures and U.S. Congress are going to stop punting them over to the judiciary. As for problems of divisions of power, those are going to get settled by politics mostly.
Scalia and Kennedy are not real young either, Roberts has health problems. Kennedy or Roberts leaving means the Court becomes 5/4 , maybe 6/3 the other way.
The true change occurs when Scalia resigns or dies. Mentally healthy members of his species (if there are any) have not been sighted in the wild for many years and they don't reproduce in captivity. He is truly irreplaceable. When he is gone the Court will lurch greatly the other way.
Roberts has known that social issues are a lost cause for conservatives from the start. He and his political friends have clearly decided on creating as much in the way of conservative skewed precedents and jurisprudence on economic rights issues as possible for the time when those become the primary arena.
I am quite sure that under "major new program" people mean health care reform. Only. Maybe readjustment of the tax code.
Seriously, the polling numbers on issues say that substantial Democratic mandates exist in economic issues and ethics/management of government. The latter takes the form of pushing out Republicans, the former is about taxation and healthcare reform.
There is only passive mandate on social/justice issues, foreign policy, conduct of war, and dealing with terrorism. Obama didnt stand for substantial initiatives on those things, nor did Congress. He ran on being a moderate. Hillary was the more liberal/activist candidate who, for being not so moderate, was deemed "too radical" and "too divisive".
My impression is that there was perhaps 3% to 4% overshoot for Obama over the generic D/R split statewide. The generic split should reach the Obama split by the 2012 elections, though, at latest.
I agree that most of those CDs will fall into Democratic hands fairly soon. I've been hoping for it, frankly: the Republican ugliness in outer LA suburbia has been one of the painfully bad things about the city (which I adore).