Arnold Kling  

Exit Polls

Democratic Defeat: Median Vote... Roosevelt and Retrospective Vo...

I find these fascinating. Note that this link takes you to the first of four pages. These are for House races.

It seems that of those who were polled, 46 percent recalled voting for Obama in 2008 and 45 percent recalled voting for McCain, which is much narrower than the actual margins. This could be (a) selective recall--because people now are less fond of Obama, they are less willing to tell a pollster they voted for him; (b) greater reluctance of Republicans to talk to pollsters [UPDATE--a commenter points out that this cannot possibly be the explanation--it goes the wrong way]; or (c) lower Democratic turnout. I vote (c).

The result that I find most interesting is a breakdown of favorable and unfavorable ratings of parties. Not surprisingly, among people who have a favorable rating of Democrats, the Democrats did really well. People who view the Republican Party favorably voted Republican--again, nothing to be surprised at.

But each party has a majority "unfavorable" rating, and there the results differed. People with an unfavorable view of Democrats went 88-10 for Republicans, but people with an unfavorable view of Republicans only went 76-22 Democrat.

That was the difference in the election. The "unfavorables" on net broke Republican. The way I would spin it is that there is a large block of voters who are negative on both parties, the Republicans captured a larger share of that block, and that block swung the election.

It strikes me that this block that takes an unfavorable view of both parties is potentially highly volatile. It suggests to me that a cautious moderate who does not tick people off might do well in a national election--but how could such a candidate survive in the primaries?

Note: I am not saying that I long for a cautious moderate. I long for competitive government, which is not embodied in any candidate.

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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Joe writes:

You should write a book on this topic of "competitive government". I don't know of anything else written along similar lines.

Robinson writes:

"greater reluctance of Republicans to talk to pollsters"

I think you mean greater reluctance of Democrats to talk to pollsters for it to be consistent with the results.

Joe In Morgantown writes:

Why do you think someone with an unfavorable view of both parties would like a moderate?

mark writes:

Much of the polls can be explained by moderates like me who have a negative view of both parties because both parties are controlled by extremists. If a single party is in control, then its extremists are in control. But, when power is divided, each extremist wing is returned to a minority.

If 80% of each party is an extremist, but the extremes cancel each other out, then you always have a 60-40 majority to block extremism (the 20% of nonextremes in each party, plus the opposing extremes).

Supermajority voting rules also accomplish this. But the use of reconciliation and the success of the Senate Dems in mustering 60 votes on HCR overcame that. So now we see the electorate groping toward a different kind of supermajority structure.

MernaMoose writes:

In any case, if the Republicans (and the Tea Party) actually meant anything they claim to stand for, then they've just been handed the golden opportunity to body-slam the Democrats.

The Republicans control the House now. For the next two years, no bill should come out of the House that have "and ObamaCare et al is hereby rescinded". The majority are still opposed to it.

Let Obama and the Dem controlled Senate spend two years, repeatedly jamming this unpopular piece of crap down the nation's throat. The Dems will either have to yield to the demand of popular pressure, or they'll take yet another blood bath in the 2012 elections.

This is the very best opportunity the Republicans could have hoped for to insure the unseating of Obama in 2012. It's a golden opportunity.

This same tactic could be repeated for any and all other unpopular legislation in recent history.

The Republicans, of course, will not do this. Because they don't know what they really mean or what they stand for anymore. They were getting light footed during Clinton. They completely lost any connection to principles during the Bush II era.

I think Arnold is right to believe that Republicans as we've known them are on their death bed. The Republican party will somehow survive, as some sort of "thing". But it will become something different from what it's been. I'd say odds are that it will move to the left when all is said and done.

Because, those on the left know what they want and they're willing to fight for it. Their opponents do not know what they want or what they're fighting for. And this has been the sad story of all socialist successes (especially including communism flavors) for about the last century.

Peter St. Onge writes:

A cautious moderate would be a nice change, though. Return to normalcy 'n all.

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