MyDD Poll: Investigation, Impeachment and Extremism
by Sun Tzu, Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:38:32 PM EST
This is a long post, but I truly hope you'll stay with it to the end. In my view, there's plenty of gems in here and we're getting ready to `go at throttle up' on the Analytical Rocket. This post helps you strap into the rocket, I hope.
First, for fun: an observation and conclusion. You know it's going to be a wild political year when all the politicos want briefings `on what's happening out there'. Now, yesterday. Eight months out. Uh-huh. Are we a bit on edge these days, folks? A bit concern-ed? A bit unsure-ed? Natch on that and there you go on my recent and upcoming sched. Briefings, briefings, briefings, at the end of which comes the world-renowned "Hmm. Really? Hmm." That's the take on the current state of blue campaign strategery in this neck of the woods: noodlin', ponderin', chin-rubbin'. Lots of "hmm."
I am sure you get the picture. It's TBD which frame is more apropos for the year, though: a refrain from Country Joe McDonald's Fixin' to Die Rag ("open up the Pearly Gates, there ain't no time to wonder why, whoopee, we're all gonna die!") or from Public Image Ltd.'s Warrior ("I take no quarter. This is my land. I'll never surrender. I am. A Warrior.").
Strategically, from what I've seen, I'd say the Talking Heads' Once in a Lifetime has the point locally and nationally so far in 2006: "same as it ever was" for political communications, folks. Politicos are simply more fidgety this time. Nervous tics, that sort of thing. The poor dumb bastards. I'll definitely return to this issue when we get to the recommendations section of the research, given what we know now and also what I think we'll find in the extended analysis (which I plan to conduct and then present next). And those recommendations are most likely include relentlessly slapping `em all silly. Just so you know. Tough love, you see. Especially since the national blues have that killer-diller Silver Bullet thematic going against the reds: "We can do better." (Sigh.) Jeebus. Jiminy Freaking Christmas, that'll catch fire with voters, don't ya think? Riiiiight.
Let's not get the cart before the horse, so in the meantime today we'll take a good substantive look at impeachment and extremism through the lenses of the Threat Index and some demographics. (Previous posts on findings can be found at these locations: Release 1 Findings, Terrorism Threat Index, Back in the Saddle Again and Impeachment Approach).
Here's the data on the lead-in question, whether Congress should investigate possible illegal actions (NSA surveillance of citizens, Iraqi WMD lies) by Dubya:
Should Should Not
U.S. 49% 43%
TTI Low 25 69
TTI Medium 56 36
TTI High 76 19
Fund.-Evangelical 25 68
Mainstream 44 49
Liberal 70 25
Democrat 74 21
Republican 22 73
Indep.-Other 51 37
Northeast 54 35
South 41 54
Midwest 49 43
Rockies 53 44
West Coast 59 35
As noted by Chris, we've got a split among voters on the issue. What a shocker. Further, the demographics show a split within voter groups, but with Republicans and their strongest supporters, fundamentalists/evangelicals, mainstream religious, those in the South, (not shown but in crosstabs on MyDD:) rural voters, Anglos and men most likely to say no to investigation while liberal religious voters, Democrats, those in the Northeast, Rockies and West Coast, (not shown) urban voters and minorities are most likely to say yes to investigation. Knock me over with a feather.
We've seen the demographic pattern before, in other questions in the survey, which I've discussed previously (see Release 1 link above). No new news there.
As I see it, the key finding here relates to the interplay between the Threat Index, religious orientation and party registration. They're all three measures of psychological states: perceptions of terrorism threats, religiosity and political orientation. (Residence, in my view, is a geographical characteristic of people, having little, if any, meaning in a psychological sense.)
The characteristics (including others in crosstabs) don't provide us much direction in a strategic sense. We know that. But the psychological measures do provide some basic `map coordinates', so to speak, of strategy. Example: party registration shows the middle (Independents/Other) leaning toward investigation. Religious orientation shows the middle leaning against investigation. The TTI shows the middle significantly more likely to come down for investigation.
So what does that mean? It means framing investigation within the context of threats (in this case terrorism, but I'd also argue threats in a general sense: Dubya's unitary executive crap, NSA, Iraq, Katrina, lies, incompetence, corruption, yada, yada) is likely to push middle groups (Independents, mainstreamers) over to investigation in majority numbers. The conceptual anchor, the `hot button', that we see in these data is `threats', which moves in the same direction, only more clearly so, as other psychologically-oriented measures. In short, "Congress should investigate because such allegations and concerns are a clear and present threat to us, the voters."
Thus, the call for investigation because of the threats these allegations and others represent, relentlessly made over the next eight months, is the real finding here. I'm confident this issue can be a tipping point, if handled right. There's already a significant constituency who buy in and there's also strong reason to conclude framing this issue properly and consistently getting it out there in communications will begin tipping middle groups over the fence. Once they perceive these Republicans and this Administration as a threat, watch out, baby.
Arianna over at HuffPo, whom I just adore, recently posted on the impeachment issue, concluding Dems should take Congress first in 2006 and then "we can talk about impeachment" on November 8th. Fine, I agree, but focusing on that (impeachment) misreads the strategic opportunity that the call for investigation represents, in my view.
That's the real opening and, further, as I noted in my last post (link above), potential investigation is where we actually are in the impeachment process. There's no evidence for impeachment right now, thus this recommendation tracks with the current reality. Hello? Are we listening, national blues?
There needs to be an investigation by Congress to determine if there is evidence. Put the heat on Republicans to do it (which emphasizes it's their responsibility as those in control of Congress), and don't let up, ding, danged, dammit. Of course Republicans won't convene a House Select Committee in an election year and that makes it all the more strategically attractive to do it now, in front of mid-term elections. In short, framing investigation as a threat response to Republicans can: 1) shore up the base, 2) begin swinging the middle and 3) erode some level of support for this Administration. And the dam starts to break. D'oh, as the original Sun Tzu might say.
Next, I'm going to blow through the actual impeachment/removal question because it's primary value as I see it at this point in time is establishing the baseline numbers for tracking. As noted above by Arianna and by me, it just doesn't make sense right now from a strategic communications perspective to pursue it as a key communications opportunity in this election cycle. But if things heat up down the road, we're set to map out the dynamics as they unfold. Here's the data on support/opposition to Dubya's impeachment and removal if it's determined he broke the law...
Total Total Not
Support Oppose Sure
U.S. 50% 38% 12%
TTI Low 31 56 13
TTI Medium 53 35 12
TTI High 72 21 7
Fund.-Evangelical 33 58 9
Mainstream 42 45 13
Liberal 68 26 6
Democrat 71 21 8
Republican 26 65 9
Indep.-Other 51 33 16
Northeast 51 35 14
South 44 47 9
Midwest 50 37 13
Rockies 49 39 12
West Coast 61 30 9
Okay, it's good a majority, even a bare one, supports impeachment at such an early point. But opposition is significant and it's significant among sizable numbers of most groups. Further, a chunk are just not sure and that's no surprise whatsoever. So, currently, it's a divisive issue with no clear path to make it a successful wedge for us.
However what catches my eye is, again, the psychological middles. Particularly, the Threat middles. They're leaning support, they want to come over, but they're just not there yet. Getting them to move into support in large numbers would be a substantial undertaking with no guarantee it would amount to much, given the fact impeachment/removal is still fermenting, so to speak, as an issue. But, down the road...well, you know the gig on that.
Now let's look at the extremism measure. This one's really, really important, especially as you'll see in the extended analysis, as opposed to the basic demographic analysis. Overall, it captures the country's `zeitgeist' in a pointed way: are religious and political activists pushing public policy too far to the right or are they protecting society? Here's the data...
Pushing Protecting Not sure/
Too far Society Both/Neither
U.S. 41% 33% 26%
TTI Low 24 48 28
TTI Medium 46 30 24
TTI High 62 16 22
Fund.-Evangelical 24 59 17
Mainstream 39 34 27
Liberal 57 23 20
Democrat 55 20 25
Republican 27 49 24
Indep.-Other 41 30 29
Northeast 40 27 23
South 36 37 27
Midwest 42 34 24
Rockies 47 41 12
West Coast 51 25 24
As John Lennon says: "Well, well, well. Well, well." A split electorate again, but this time on a question, in my view, getting at the base, fundamental change since the 2000 election: the constant political onslaught from the extremist right-wing.
It is amazing to me, with the abdication of the MSM/Fourth Estate's traditional public watchdog responsibility, the cabal of right-wing Faux media, corporations and churches and also the behavior of this Republican Party these past five years, that Americans are split at all, let alone three ways (pushing too far, protecting society, not sure). I believe this question shows a great resiliency among American voters, given such a consistent environment. Two-thirds do not buy into the `protecting society' position. Two-thirds, after all they've done and the hegemony they've pursued. Amazing.
We see in the detail familiar patterns among groups. This is an indicator we've gone as far as we can go in learning from the base crosstabs. So left-leaning groups say extremists are pushing too far and right-leaning groups say they're protecting society. Yup, been there, done that.
There're two things I see, though, that jump out. One, pluralities (the largest percentage) in 10 out of 14 voter groups come down on the `pushing too far' side. Only four land on `protecting society'. An obvious indicator of potential in strategic communications. Thus, not enough voters are `sold' on the pushing too far position but a bunch more could be.
Further on this observation, the expanse of turf covered by these ten groups is important. And impressive. Four of five regions of the country, two of three in religious orientation, two of three `parties', two of three in the Threat Index. That's a big, big chunk of the landscape the pushing too far position leads on, especially given the cabal of the right-wing, the dearth of formal opposition and the failure of the MSM in their watchdog role. Very impressive, I say again.
Second, that's a sizable chunk of unsure, etc. in virtually all voter groups: a fifth or more in 12 of 14 groups. There's a lot of potential for movement on this issue and the pluralities pointing toward `pushing too far' in most groups indicate they're inclined to move that way. If somebody helps them get there. If. Somebody. Helps them. Get there. Hello?
Which is The Point, as Harry Nilsson says. `Somebody' hasn't helped them. `Somebody' hasn't done squat. Somebody, that is, besides the progressive bloggers and netroots. Somebody besides us. Somebody besides you. Think about that. We are the only real opposition in this country. Period. And these wonderful, extraordinary American people are still hanging in there with us, five years plus down the road of right-wing hegemony.
It's a beautiful thing, folks. Truly humbling and inspiring, I say. My recommendation for today is to go grab some beers (plural), a bottle or two of wine or the liquor/libation of your choice. Whatever you want. Drink it, but be safe. Because...
we're done with the basic analysis. I'll do an intro post on the extended analysis and then, as Todd Rundgren says, `the shit hits the fan'.
We're going to lock and load the M-16s, button up the hatches of our M1-A1 Abrams, ring the engine rooms for flank speed and light the afterburners of our FA-18s. I'm going to do it because I am a Warrior. And as Jesse says, I Am...Somebody. I believe you are, too. We, you and I, are Somebody for the American people. It's that simple. So, until next time...hooyah!