11.05.2009

Independent Voters and Empty Explanations

Karl Rove:

The trend here is that suburban and independent voters moved into the GOP column. The overall shift away from Democrats was 13 points in Virginia, 12 points in New Jersey, and eight points in Pennsylvania. [...]

Looking ahead, the bad news for Democrats is that the legislation that helped lead to the collapse of support for their party on Tuesday could yet inflict more pain on those foolish enough to support it.
The Washington Post:
But moderate and conservative Democrats took a clear signal from Tuesday's voting, warning that the results prove that independent voters are wary of Obama's far-reaching proposals and mounting spending, as well as the growing federal debt.
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
"Lesser mortals need to be worried about their independent voters because they have shifted strongly against Democrats in recent months. Independent voters tend to look at the issue, not the party, and they don't like a lot of what Congress has done."
This is what passes for analysis nowadays.

Why did Democrats lose in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday? Because independent voters moved against them, say the pundits.

This is true, insofar as it goes; Democrats lost independents nearly 2:1 in the gubernatorial race in Virginia, and by a 25-point margin in New Jersey.

But it doesn't really tell us very much. It's a lot like saying: the Yankees won the Game 6 last night because they scored more runs than the Phillies. Or: the unemployment rate went up because there were fewer jobs.

In almost every competitive general election, the party that loses the contest has also lost independent voters. This is because most people (although less so in gubernatorial elections) vote strictly along party lines: the Democrat might be all but guaranteed 80 to 90 percent of the Democratic vote, and the Republican 80 to 90 percent of the Republican vote. Except in certain regions of the country where one or another party encompasses a particularly wide range of ideologies (such as NY-23's Republicans or vestigial "Solid South" Democrats), it's independents who swing the vote, since they represent the overwhelming majority of the votes which are up-for-grabs. This must necessarily be the case.

But in politics, it's not the proximate cause we're interested in but the ultimate one. Yes: independents went mostly for Republicans in New Jersey and Virginia (we could have inferred this without having to look at the exit poll). Yes, this "caused" the Democratic defeats. But what caused the independents to move against the Democrats? That's what we're really interested in, since that's what will have implications for future elections.

Too often in "mainstream" political analysis, once it is pointed out that independents have swung in one or another direction, the analysis stops. The pundit inserts his own opinion about what caused the independent vote to shift ("Obama's far-reaching proposals and mounting spending", says the Washington Post), without citing any evidence. It's a neat trick, and someone who isn't paying attention is liable to conclude that the pundit has actually said something interesting.

But in New Jersey, there's literally almost no evidence that the Democrats' agenda had anything to do with Jon Corzine's defeat. Voters who cited a national issue were more likely to vote for Corzine, and voters who cited a local one, the Republican Chris Christie.

In Virginia, the evidence is certainly a little stronger, insofar as the national agenda may have affected the lopsided turnout (the electorate which turned out Tuesday had voted for John McCain by 8 points, a near-reversal of the actual results). Even there, however, the quarter of the electorate that cited health care as their main issue went for the Democrat Deeds 51-49. And in NY-23, which was supposed to have been the ultimate smackdown of the Democrats' agenda, the Republican Conservative candidate unexpectedly lost.

Part of the problem is that 'independents' are not a particularly coherent group. At a minimum, the category of ‘independents’ includes:
1) People who are mainline Democrats or Republicans for all intents and purposes, but who reject the formality of being labeled as such;
2) People who have a mix of conservative and liberal views that don’t fit neatly onto the one-dimensional political spectrum, such as libertarians;
3) People to the extreme left or the extreme right of the political spectrum, who consider the Democratic and Republican parties to be equally contemptible;
4) People who are extremely disengaged from politics and who may not have fully-formed political views;
5) True-blue moderates;
6) Members of organized third parties.
These voters have almost nothing to do with each other and yet they all get grouped under the same umbrella as 'independents'.

But that's getting away from the point. Independent voters are treated as a cause, when all that they really are is a symptom. The key is in figuring out what ails the patient.

157 comments

Bob said...

"Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)'Lesser mortals need to be worried about their independent voters because they have shifted strongly against Democrats in recent months. Independent voters tend to look at the issue, not the party, and they don't like a lot of what Congress has done.'"

More evidence that Blue Dogs are incapable of independently analyzing their own electorate. It seems that they will use any excuse to back a Republican position. Can Jim Cooper use a fraction of the brain he was born with to determine that what happened in these races may not apply to the country as a whole, nor have any relevance to what is happening in Congress?

Mark said...

Brilliant analysis. I hope this post is cited on other news sites, because this is by far the best examination of what happened Tuesday I've seen yet.

The media can be so damn lazy!

douglas said...

It is not usually the case that independents swing and partisans do not. Everybody swings. Independents, lacking the party anchor, swing more. The exception is unusually polarizing elections.

The swing in vote is related to the swing in turnout. Controlling for level of top office, elections which energize one side, who then turn out to support their side solidly, bring out independents to vote from that side, as well as depressing turnout and producing swing votes among the opposing party.

2009 had little energy for Democrats, who defected and stayed home, hence independents who did vote tended to do so for Republicans.

Looking an independent voters alone can be misleading. Not only are they a motley lot, motivations of nonvoting independents, nonvoting partisans, and defecting partisans are somewhat more important numerically.

Juris said...

Thanks, Nate. It's a case of analysis based on causal evidence vs. pure spin.

Political pros know this game very well and are genetically programmed to spin. Most of the MSM, on the other hand, just quote the pros and mistake the spin for analysis.

Bart DePalma said...

Nate:

Your note of the heterogeneity of the Indis begs the question of which of the Indis showed up at the polls in NJ and VA. We can divine this from the nearly identical demographics of the voters in the exit polls - overwhelmingly white, over 40 years old, attended college, earn more than $50,000 and live in the suburbs or in rural areas. These are standard conservative and Tea Party member demographics.

Because the exit polling did not ask whether the respondent voted in 2006 and 2008, it is unclear whether the new Indi support for the GOP consists of born again conservatives who voted for Obama believing his rhetoric of tax cuts and net spending cuts or Perotista conservatives who sat out the past couple election cycles. Most likely its a combination of the two.

What is clear is that the Reagan conservative coalition reassembled this year and tossed the Dems out.

Your contention that the stunning vote against Corzine in blue NJ is not also a vote against Dem national policies relies on the assumption that there is a difference between Corzine's policies of higher taxes, higher spending and corrupt use of out tax money for pork projects is somehow different than what the Dems enacted and are attempting to enact in DC. I fail to see the difference.

Will Matthews said...

Amen...spot on analysis of the lack thereof

Mike H. said...

This analysis seems right. I think the vast differences among "independents" also impacts the make-up of that group in any given election. For example, if there isn't an attractive libertarian alternative on the ballot, those "independents" may simply stay home, further exacerbating a possible "shift" of independents.

The "shift" model can't incorporate a lack of intensity amongst the subset of independents.

Juris said...

@Bart: you ignore the substance of Nate's analysis and go into spinning from top to bottom. You resort to hyperbole. The vote against Corzine wasn't "stunning," except maybe to you?

Eusebio Dunkle said...

This nonsense is frustrating. BHO and Congress need to pass substantial health care and climate reform before the 2010 election cycle. They need the fortitude to push through even if it costs them in the next elections. They democrats were elected to do this! If they fail, they should lose power.

Our future depends on substantial and widespread reform. Not my individual future mind you. I'm rich, white, highly educated, and mobile. I am not concerned about a neo-conservative revival. Their values simply cannot survive the future, i.e. the death of all the people out of touch with modern life. However, the failure of substantial reform to health care, energy, education, and government is a larger threat to our country and my citizenship.

I hope that BHOs centrist, compromising diddling is a temporary strategy. It is not a path to reform.

JFisher said...

My personal favorite was hearing that "bastion of liberalism" NPR end a story on the governor's races with a broad assessment not unlike the ones you mentioned above, and segued directly into a story about NY-23, a seat held by Republicans for like 150 years. I almost got whiplash.

My two cents are that People are angry. People are dissatisfied. Short of a national emergency of the WWII / Great Depression variety, that is bad for incumbents. It isn't about the platform of the parties; it is about people wanting elected officials to do something and, absent tangible results, blaming the ones who can do something (but apparently have not) rather than running to safety in the known commodity. In a two way race you either retain or dismiss. You go for the unknown change or the known failure. Our elections are black and white affairs, so the punditry looks at everything in those terms, I suspect.

But What I Want to Know is this: Does anyone really believe that guys like Corzine or Deeds can drive voters to a picnic, absent handing out free beer, let alone a voting booth? What about the (severe) personal and political deficiencies of the incumbents who lost? Where was an honest assessment of the chances of these guys?
-Deeds, the dark horse candidate earlier this year, won a 3-way primary by the awesome strategy of "getting out of the way and smiling a lot" while the two more telegenic (and energetic, well funded, and antagonistic) candidates effectively ignored him so they could devote their energy to mutually destroying one another. Deeds won the primary because he was Switzerland, not because he was the best candidate.
-Corzine is a former Goldman Sachs CEO, not a popular club to belong to these days, who has overseen an increasingly unpopular fiscal situation in the state whilst personally banking hundreds of millions of dollars. He is the Louis the XVI of gubernatorial candidates.

So you have a candidate that got extremely lucky and a candidate who is up there with Hank Paulson, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and the rest of the Moguls of Wall Street. I'm not saying this is why they lost, but this isn't as if they represent the best and the brightest of the Democratic Party.

Where is the substantive analysis of these severe shortcomings in the individual candidates? Oh Yea, Substantive analysis doesn't sell copy. A story about the administration on the ropes, about the party in power in trouble, that does.

Thanks for, again, providing the clarity that the punditry does it's best to obfuscate in order to create a narrative.

RomanX said...

I have not seen any pundit analysis that points to the change in composition of independents. They seem to be treated a monolithic herd with similiar political leanings.

The question that is not being asked is, "Are the independents voting this cycle similar to the independents of last cycle?".

Republicans are seeing record low party identification numbers. Those people are going somewhere and there are taking those republican leaning sensibilities with them.

Yet that is not being talked about.

Eusebio Dunkle said...

"What is clear is that the Reagan conservative coalition reassembled this year and tossed the Dems out."

Bart. Thanks. Yes. These are the true GOP principles I am used to: massive debt in exchange for tax cuts and naive defense spending.

Jacob said...

Bart DePalma said...

"I fail to see the difference."



Well there's the understatement of the thread.

filistro said...

I think Roman's comment is spot on.

A whole lot of people who now call themselves Independents were calling themselves Republicans until they were humiliated and horrifed by George W. Bush's profligate presidency.

hurricanexyz said...

This seems obvious to me, but I've never heard anyone mention it. The number of Independents in the country is way, way up, and most, though not all, of that gain comes from Republican losses. If either the right-of-center who are uncomfortable with the current Republican party or the hard-right who view the Party as being too conventional and centrist are leaving the official party and becoming Independents, shouldn't that make the composition of independents tilt more conservative? I mean, I guess that there would be some counterbalancing effect from Democrats, but I don't think the Democrats' party ID losses have been as severe.

In other words, I keep seeing these polls where Democrats favor something by some margin, Republicans oppose it by the same margin, and Independents are against it. But it comes out ahead overall. If the boundaries around "Democrat", "Republican", and "Independent" in the electorate change, without the electorate's changing itself, you could get the appearance of an important trend without anything's really having changed.

Satya said...

Nate,

I think the MSM discussion of independent voters needs to account for another critical point. Many people who are clearly on the right are increasingly identifying not as Republican but as Independent. Glenn Beck, for example, emphatically tells everyone that he is not a Republican, but has contempt for both parties. Organizers of the tea party movement likewise often like to talk about how they are resisting the Republican party as much as the Democratic party. The result of these conservative defections from the Republican party is that the block of voters who identify as independent is unquestionably more conservative than it was 5 years ago or even a year ago, which makes calls into question all analysis of trends of independent voters.

I suspect that a more detailed analysis of poll information could reveal how much the Democrats are actually losing among real independents, and how much of the appearance of independents moving to the right is really because the right is moving towards defining themselves as political independents. I think that analysis would be extremely useful to the decision makers in the Democratic party. And I think you are the man who could do it and get Democrats to pay attention.

Jeff said...

The importance of conservative Republicans winning over moderates in purple or blue states is obvious. Six months ago it supposedly couldn't be done.

NY 23 is no guide to how these matters will play out in typical districts, for obvious reasons.

Nate's analysis of NJ is pure wishful thinking. Sure, it wasn't a referendum on Obama, or health care. But it was an anti-corruption election, and corruption might well become a national Democratic story if the media starts to do its job. Secondly, it was a debt and tax election. Anti-tax sentiment and fear of spending cut across all of these races, and the really shocking races in suburban NYC. Those are state issues, but they dovetail with national ones.

PorridgeGun said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Gen Sherman said...

Just to add to the comments of Roman and filistro,..

Nate mentioned in Virginia, the voters who turned out for Tuesday went for McCain by 8% in 2008. It would be interesting to see by how much those who voted on Tuesday, and self-identify as independents, voted for McCain last year. My guess it would be at least double.

If this is the case, then my thought would be Democrats and independents who voted for Obama were not motivated enough by the moderate or more progressive candidate to go out and vote. EJ Dionne has an interesting read regarding this theory.

PorridgeGun said...

MUST SEE!!! (especially for conservatrolls)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/4/800678/-Engineering-defeat

I'm surprised Nate hasn't embedded the video. Any doubts about which race the Republicans and it's conservative nutbase thought was the biggie is completely removed by those 8 glorious minutes.



Courtesy of ecstatic teabagging FReeptards after Pataki and The Quitter's game changing endorsements:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2374238/posts


Have been keeping a list,

Supporting Doug Hoffman - Conservative Republican NY 23rd D

Sarah Palin (Former Gov. Alaska)

George Pataki (Former Gov. New York)

Gov. Rick Perry, Texas

Fred Thompson (Former U.S. Sen. Tenn)

Steve Forbes

Rick Santorum (Fomer U.S. Sen. PA)

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minn

Al D’Amato (Former . U.S. Sen NY.)

Sen. Jim Demint, S.C.

Cong. Michele Bachmann Minn.

Cong. Tom Cole OK

Cong. Dana Rohrabacher CA

Cong.Tom McClintock CA

Ed Meese (U.S. Attorney General – Reagan Adm.

Mark Levin

L Brent Bozell

Dick Armey (former Cong. TX)

Weekly Standard

Wall Street Journal Ed.

Alfred Regnery, Publisher

American Conservative Union, David Keene

The Catholic Families for America PAC, a national pro-family political action committee

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council

Mr. Universe said...

the bad news for Democrats is that the legislation that helped lead to the collapse of support for their party on Tuesday could yet inflict more pain on those foolish enough to support it.

Who knew Karl Rove was a comedian?

As much I don't think Tuesday was a referendum on Obama, I do think you'll see a bigger shift in independent voters if not by 2010, certainly by 2012 unless something significant happens between now and then. Another reason for the timing on Health Care Reform. This was the only time where circumstances would allow for it. Good news, I don't think Tuesday will hurt anything (certainly not like Lieberman is doing).

I've noticed in the past when Republicans start using the 'change' meme, it really means let's go back to the way things were. Whenever they talk about fiscal responsibility they really mean leave the game rigged the way it is so I can make tons of money at your expense. We taxpayers should dutifully keep standing behind that example and one day, we too, may get a shot at the brass ring (probably not possible for most of us no matter how hard we work).

In our short attention span media world, Obama truly has to produce instant results on all fronts despite the giant shit that the W administration took on his desk on their way out. Health insurance reform with a robust public option absolutely must pass before the next election cycle or conservatives will thrash Democrats relentlessly about what a failure this administration has been. Not that they won't thrash anyway since the best way to drive independents to your camp is to whip them into a frenzy of fear that the sky is falling.

The seemingly recovering economic turnaround will help as well. Conservatives wanting the Obama administration to fail are simply trying to set up a 'how bad does it have to get before you indies let us have the reins again and return things to the way they were'.

Well they can't return to the way they were. Without significant changes in the health insurance industry, costs will spiral upward. Without significant changes in our energy policy Our little frying pan is going to gradually get warmer or some conservative elected person will find an excuse to bomb some oil-laden country. This is the Liberal version of 'how bad do you want it to get?'.

Change takes time and more than a modicum of faith. Give it a little of both.

< /soapbox>

Mr. Universe said...

I don't envy the President for his job. Half the people don't think he's accomplished enough, the other half think he's doing too much. I'm in the Goldilocks camp myself.

Suzushiro said...

Honestly my interpretation of the Virginia race is that it was less about independents who voted for Obama last year turning against him because of his evil socialist nazi grandma-killing tax and spend policies and more because the independents who helped him win the state last year looked at Deeds, said "meh, fuck that," and stayed home.

Juris said...

On who the Independents are I'm afraid political scientists aren't stepping into the media enough to identify the different components and how they may be oriented on the issues.

One problem is the standard way that survey researchers (including commercial "pollsters") determine who the independents are. They virtually always assume that these are people whose political alignment is somewhere between the Republicans and the Democrats, though they may "lean" toward one or another of these two parties.

In fact, however, as has been noted by Nate and by some commenters on this column, it may be that increasing numbers of self-labeled independents are rejecting the two dominant parties entirely, and their "third" alternative is not so much between the two parties as against both of them.

Although I could never call myself a tea-partier, I am very much opposed to the mainline economic policies of the two established parties. I don't think that puts me on the Left of a single ideological continuuum but rather as anti-system, anti-establishment.

I've reached the point where I may declare myself "independent" by which I mean "rejectionist."

I did, and do, support the policies of the Democrats far more than those of the Republicans (and I totally reject the racist, homophobic, hypocritical "family values" of many on the "right"). And so given a choice between a Dem and a GOP candidate I am much more likely to vote, and to vote Dem, than I am to vote GOP.

But from here on I am an Independent. If you want my vote, "Show Me!

Pan said...

Bart DePalma said...
We can divine this from the nearly identical demographics of the voters in the exit polls - overwhelmingly white, over 40 years old, attended college, earn more than $50,000 and live in the suburbs or in rural areas. These are standard conservative and Tea Party member demographics.


Bart - don't you see that you're falling for one of the basic logical fallacies?

Your statement:
W=white, 40+, etc.
T=Tea Party
E=Exit poll demographics
1: Most members of T are W
2: Most members of E are W
Therefore: Most members of E are T.

Don't you see the problem in this?

It must be divination, because it sure isn't statistics.

brian said...

Meh, I think Corzine's defeat was pretty stunning. Sure you have the economy weighing all politicians down. But how often does an incumbent in a state that favors him ideologically lose? Heck, even Blago got reelected here in IL, and he was hated.

harold said...

So it seems that two things happened -

1) The wingnuts lost NY-23 and proved that movement conservatives are very, very unlikely to win in national elections.

2) Democrats didn't show up for the gubernatorial elections.

Corzine was widely disliked and Christie ran as a moderate, literally without mentioning anything except local tax issues. So no surprise. We can, of course, be pretty sure that if Christie had been forced to step aside in favor of an openly homophobic, Limbaugh/Palin/Malkin/
Beck-associated "true conservative", Corzine would have won.


Corrupt, disliked incumbent Democrats, who aren't taken out in primaries, are vulnerable to moderate Republicans, when that is the only alternative. That is unlikely to change.

VA is a bigger lesson. Democrats ran a bad candidate.

Part of being a bad candidate is being running on the grounds that "I'm exactly like a Republican, but I'm called a Democrat". That almost never gains a single Republican vote against a mainstream Republican (although Republicans clearly voted for centrist Democrat Owens over Hoffman in NY-23, Hoffman wasn't officially a Republican), and makes some Democrats stay home.

There are a few exceptions - rural districts that were once more relatively progressive (before brain drain, perhaps) and have a lot of "registered Democrats" may prefer extreme blue dog Democrats to Republicans who would behave in a similar way. But except in special cases, Democrats should run as Democrats, and differentiate themselves.

Carl Rove and the bought-off media are trying to claim the opposite. Should Democrats listen to Carl Rove's advice? You decide.

shrinkers said...

Excellent analysis, Nate.

Several posters have pointed out that the heterogeneous category "independent" now consists of more disaffected Republicans than it used to. This means, naturally, they will still tend to vote for Republican candidates. If many of the left-leaning "independents" simply stayed home in VA and NJ - being unexcited about the local races there, or bored by the Dem candidates - then the "independent voters" will seem to have "shifted" to the right, when in fact they have not.

But there is another danger here. Because we incorrectly define our politics in a one-dimensional space of right vs left, we tend to equate "independent" with "moderate" (or "centrist"). So, if the particular glob of "independents" who vote in a particular election happen to vote mainly for the Repub or the Dem, we incorrectly assume this means "the county" has shifted its center.

"Independents" are really a blob of people from all portions of the multi-dimensional space of political viewpoint, not a small line segment located centrally between left and right. It is composed primarily of people who don't (for a wide variety of reason) want to be associated with either major party.

Until and unless this groups becomes more homogeneous, we really can't tell what "its" vote says about the mood of "the country".

Houston_Wood said...

There are two problems here. One is the one Nate points out and is important. The second is one that (at minimum) RomanX and Bart D. point out, and is just as important, if not more so, than the first. That is, people misinterpret compositional data all of the time. We see higher or lower percentages and assume these have some "absolute" meaning, but they are primarily relatively meaningful. The percentages on the independent voter preferences first requires a common denominator from which to compare. Pundits are assuming these are the same independents who turned out a year ago, and thus they have "moved" or "been persuaded" or "changed their minds," as evidenced by their greater support for R's vs. D's. But we know these are not the same independents who turned out a year ago (from the descriptive demographics) so to say anything at all about them changing their minds without first comparing apples to apples is as great a problem as the one Nate points to. This was (at least) a big (D and co-ideological-I) turnout problem for the Dems. This is primary to saying anything about whether it was a referendum or shift from Independents. Any over time inferences drawn from these data then, without first accounting for this problem, are completely useless.

shrinkers said...

@Mr. Universe
I don't envy the President for his job. Half the people don't think he's accomplished enough, the other half think he's doing too much.

Oddly enough, the Republicans and right wing seem to hold both notions simultaneously. Recall that Obama had done "nothing" when he was given the Nobel Peace Prize. But, we are told, Tuesday's elections in VA and NJ went the way they did because of his "overreaching".

Note that NY was, in the minds of the MSM and the rightie pundits, not not not not a "referendum on Obama", even though they insisted, before the election, that it was going to be.

norman_swingvoter said...

Great Nate, I am happy to see someone finally addressing this. Independent voters are NOT a monolithic group. Some number are former disgruntled republicans. However, they still have conservative values. I have one friend in this camp. He is NOT a wacko conservative (I have to deal with some of the wackos to, my wife acts as a referee). Last year he told me he was fed up with the republican party and becoming an independent like me. However, we are not totally alike, I am a moderate independent and he is a conservative independent.

loner said...

Jeff—

But it was an anti-corruption election, and corruption might well become a national Democratic story if the media starts to do its job.

I'd ask for an explanation if I didn't already have such a low opinion of your analytical skills.

It's the economy, stunningly stupid.

Bart DePalma said...

Juris said...

@Bart: you ignore the substance of Nate's analysis and go into spinning from top to bottom. You resort to hyperbole. The vote against Corzine wasn't "stunning," except maybe to you?

Please spare me the post catastrophe spin.

Nearly everyone, myself included, had this race a tossup or leaning to Corzine. Obama certainly thought Corzine was going to win based upon the time he was spending in NJ rather than at work making a decision on his Afghanistan war strategy. However, Christie won by five points in a blue state with a second Republican running as a fiscal conservative indi.

I sure as hell was shocked and delighted. My best result scenario was Christie winning narrowly and not having his election win reversed by election fraud approved by a complicit judiciary. The actual win was Christmas a month early.

Rahmsputin said...

There wasn't a "shift" among independents. It's just that less left-leaning indies showed up.

McDonnell won VA with something like 1,200,000 votes.
Obama won VA WITH AROUND 1,900,000.

Unless 700,000 people voted "none of the above," this is a question of turnout, not an ideological shift in the electorate.

Pan said...

What? That's poppycock. The same people show up for every election and the same people stay home for every election. There have been no new voters since 1970. Also, no voters have died or moved away since 1970. All this must be true, otherwise pundits would be talking out of their ass the majority of the time.

Pan said...

Also, another widely known fact - exit polls are 100% accurate and perfectly representative of the larger voting population.

shrinkers said...

Actually, all the pundits have it all wrong. The elections in VA and NJ had to do with the public's perception of me. Yes, me, personally, this geeky guy in Minnesota.

How do I know this? Because I wasn't on the ballot. I wasn't running. I had nothing to do with the local politics of VA and NJ.

Just like Obama.

So, please, people, don't let Obama stal my thinder. It was all about me, I tell you, me me me.

Gen Sherman said...

Rahmsputin said...

Unless 700,000 people voted "none of the above," this is a question of turnout, not an ideological shift in the electorate.


Actually, add a million more to your number...

shrinkers said...

Geez, Sherman, with voting that low, it looks like a rejection of everybody, even the "winners".

filistro said...

I love this site because it forces me to think about things that should be obvious but often aren't.

It stands to reason (as somebody has pointed out above) that Independent ranks swell during a time when one of the major parties is imploding due to internecine strife.

Teapartiers can't stomach the moderate social views of their fellow Republicans. They chuck it all and turn Independent, ala Dobbs and Beck. Moderate Republicans are embarrassed by the folks currently storming the halls of congress and looking for "the whites of their eyes." They, too, turn Independent.

I wonder if it really is time for a couple more parties in American politics. Five would be good. Far-left, center left, truly moderate, center right and far right. Now wouldn't that be something? I live in Canada nowadays where it's a creaky process but all in all seems to work okay. I'd find it hugely entertaining to watch Americans struggle with the complexity of minority coalition governments. The entertainment value would be huge.

Gen Sherman said...

That is how I took it too, shrinker. The electorate doesn't find nutwingatry appealing, and are frustrated with the footdraging by the progressives. Add to that, there is some truth to the old adage "all politics are local."

Jacob said...

Virginia I can see as being something of a problem for Democrats, and if I were say, Tom Perriello, I would start racking up some accomplishments fast. Although that is certainly not the full story there.

But New Jersey, come on. This so-called "deep blue" state has now elected Republican governors in 5 of the last 8 elections, and in all 3 of the most recent elections with a Democratic President.

After Christie came close to blowing a 20+ point lead, Republicans here are shocked (shocked!) that he actually won a narrow victory?

Surely, despite exit polls and the like, it MUST be dissatisfaction with Obama! Seriously?

So here are just a few of the many reasons Corzine lost:

1. He was a lousy Governor who made few friends in Trenton and had virtually no accomplishments--this factor dampens the power of the Democratic machine to turn out the vote for him

2. He was an incumbent in a year when incumbents are especially unpopular, and did nothing to either distance himself from the problem nor posit himself as part of the solution

3. His campaign did not effectively frame him positively, only framing his opposition negatively

4. He is a Goldman Sachs billionaire, which (fairly or not) ties him irreparably to the causes of the financial meltdown

5. He was an incompetent and uninspiring candidate, which allowed Christie's uninspiring incompetence to not weigh him down. Same goes for their respective levels of corruption

6. He would only talk about managing the economy New Jersey has, while Christie only focused on what he would do in the economy he WISHED New Jersey had. Corzine failed to challenge the idea that Christie's cut taxes/balance the budget voodoo was an impossibility

7. Daggett's support collapsed to soon--it was a two-man race by election day

8. Corzine went too negative, and more importantly, didn't do negative well, highlighting only issues (like corruption) that defined him badly as well as Christie

9. Once again, New Jerseyans, like Virginians, tend to vote for a Governor of the party not in the White House (in six consecutive elections now). Sometimes this bodes poorly for the President, but not consistently

10. One word: neckbeard. I mean wtf is up with that? ;)

shrinkers said...

So, Sherman, the lesson we can take from this is that - perhaps due to random fluctuations in the aether - a few more people who voted Republican were slightly less disinclined to vote. Maybe they were driving past the voting place on their way to WalMart and figured, what the hell.

filistro said...

Amen on the neckbeard! I bet that factor alone cost him at least 40% of the female vote. And the hairy clown patches above the ears don't help, either.

On a related note of thoughtful analysis, offered entirely free of charge... if Mitt Romney got a George Clooney style, really short haircut, I'll bet he could win the nomination, if not the presidency. That slicked-back, greasy kid stuff makes him look like a shifty guy.

Dwight said...

@Bart "Changing My Song" Depalma

overwhelmingly white, over 40 years old, attended college, earn more than $50,000 and live in the suburbs or in rural areas. These are standard conservative and Tea Party member demographics.

Wait, this is NOT what you've said before. Before you explicitly said they were generally NOT college educated and you at least gave the impression that they were NOT in the higher income ranges, were more middle to lower-middle class.

So were you just making shit up then or is it now? Or both times? :D

On a related note, is there anyone that doesn't default to assuming that what is said/written by Karl Rove is directly channeled from Opposite World?

Gen Sherman said...

Just wondering how many nutbaggers took the anti-socialist pledge for life, right after the Pledge of Allegiance today at the Capitol?

Just John said...

This post is nonsense. Republicans will clean the floor with Democrats in 2010. That is, as long as:

-They get to run against more former Goldman Sachs CEOs or maybe an AIG exec or two;
-They get to run against more inept deer-in-the-headlights campaigners;
-The economy doesn't recover;
-Health care reform remains in limbo;
-Beck, Palin and Limbaugh all close their mouths for the next 12 months.

If they meet all those criteria, the R's will be able to win in 2010 like they did Tuesday. Maybe even improve on their uneven performance.

What's that you say? Ooohhhhhh.

Juris said...

@Bart: You're the one who's spinning. Did you happen to note Nate's final prediction, for example? Christie wins: "The Odds: Obviously, anybody's race, but I'd make Christie about the 4:3 favorite."

For anyone who read Nate's analyses on 538.com, Christie's win on November 3 wasn't stunning.

bleacherboy21 said...

"More evidence that Blue Dogs are incapable of independently analyzing their own electorate. It seems that they will use any excuse to back a Republican position. Can Jim Cooper use a fraction of the brain he was born with to determine that what happened in these races may not apply to the country as a whole, nor have any relevance to what is happening in Congress?"

I think Jim Cooper understands his electorate pretty well. I live in Nashville, and it's typically moderate Democrats who win races here. Our governor is a former Nashville mayor who is a moderate Democrat. In our last mayoral election, it was the moderate Democrat who beat the liberal one - by a landslide.

Perhaps Cooper could get away with being a little more liberal if he wanted. It's been a while since Republicans have challenged for his seat, although that could always change if they could successfully portray him as a Pelosi type liberal.

But by being moderate, he does reflect the views of his district pretty well, and thus, avoids any real challenge to being re-elected. I can go ahead and tell you, if he did get a challenge from the left in the Democratic primary, he'd probably still win because his electorate, while liberal leaning, isn't THAT liberal.

Lehman said...

Again with the "teabag" insults? You guys are like a 4 year old who just learned a swear word.

That having been said, I agree with assessment that independents are more conservative then they used to be. I think that socially liberal fiscal conservatives like myself have tradionally voted democrat, as deficit spending wasn't all that scary to some. Now, with people facing real insolvency, more of us are looking up and that huge pile of wasted money that is our national debt and (rightly IMHO) see it as a looming disaster that makes social issues like abortion, gay rights, the environment, and universal health care seem like, at most, side issues. You don't blow money you don't have on things that you don't need when you are hip deep in debt.

People are pissed, and there will be an anti-incumbency tide come next year. The ones that survive will be the ones that actually tried to help us climb out of the hole, not those who dug it deeper then ever before.

Synensys said...

Bart - Corzine only started winning when Dagett started sopping up some of the anti-Corzine vote.

This site and others noted that Corzine didn't improve in his numbers.

Once it became clear that Daggett's support wasn;'t going to materialize (via the last week of polling) it was clear that Christie would win.

not to mention the exit polls show that Obama has the same approval rating in NJ as his election numbers. In NJ Obama didn't matter.

VA might be different.

Obama got 18% of so called conservatives last year, Deeds got 9%. And there were alot more conservatives (33% vs 40% this year).

Deeds also undeperformed with moderates (58% for Obama, 53% for Deeds). There were fewer (46% vs 43%)

That too me is a little more worrying for Dems - seems to suggest that some more moderate conservatives want a real conservative.

Of course how much of that is just a bad candidate or a bad campaign is impossible to know.

Just John said...

Heh, heh, heh, Lehman, good luck bringing independents back to the GOP by describing "gay rights, the environment and universal health care" as "things you don't need."

filistro- hang in there, the 4- or 5-party system is coming. Not soon, but it'll arrive eventually.

Cess Pool said...

As an independent I am tired of having my vote and the reason for it categorized by some spin doctor pundit who doesn't know me. In so far as I can tell, they are wrong about why I voted the way I did 100% of the time. The reason is they are not INTERESTED at all in why I voted, but convincing others of the narrative they want pushed.

Mr. Universe said...

The actual win was Christmas a month early.

Yeah, Bart. How about that prognostication for NY-23? We noticed your conspicuous absence for a couple of days presumably due to embarrassment (we noticed; we didn't miss you). I guess this spells imminent doom for the Democrats in your universe.

I've got some pretty good BBQ sauce that will go well with that crow you're feasting on right about now.

-------------------------

There really is a Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge.

http://images2.dailykos.com/images/user/2563/teabaggerpledge.pdf

Check it out if you need a good chuckle for the day. I urge all conservatives to sign it immediately. Especially you, Bart.

Jacob said...

@ General Sherman

f'ing awesome pledge. One addition though: genuine teabaggers shouldn't listen to anything said on the publicly-owned airwaves (sadly this doesn't cover FoxNews, but it includes most of the toadying MSM).

juvanya said...

To anyone who thinks that Christie's victory was a rejection of Obama, the Democrats could have put up Paris Hilton and won. Dick Codey, current Senate President and has been governor in emergencies would have been the likely alternative and he would have stomped Christie. 55-43 at least.

Mr. Universe said...

@Lehman

Again with the "teabag" insults? You guys are like a 4 year old who just learned a swear word.

Hey we didn't make that stuff up. You did. The fact that the double entendre was lost on you; more specifically, FOX, is just gravy and payback for all those years of misuse of the word Democratic.

shrinkers said...

@Synensys
And there were alot more conservatives (33% vs 40% this year).

An important distinction here - there were not "more conservatives". Perhaps a larger percentage of the (smaller) number of people who voted identified themselves as "conservative".

This is important. There were no more "conservatives" than there were in 2008. In fact, there were fewer. It's just that there were less non-conservatives who voted.

filistro said...

Hey Lehman...

talk to the hat!

LOL

Mr. Universe said...

Lehman said,

You don't blow money you don't have on things that you don't need when you are hip deep in debt.

No, you blow it on a senseless war after having been handed a surplus and drive us to the brink of financial collapse. That's the ticket.

Gen Sherman said...

Lehman said...

Now, with people facing real insolvency, more of us are looking up and that huge pile of wasted money that is our national debt and (rightly IMHO) see it as a looming disaster that makes social issues like abortion, gay rights, the environment, and universal health care seem like, at most, side issues. You don't blow money you don't have on things that you don't need when you are hip deep in debt.


You are talking about the national debt that has grown to over $7 trillion due to "supply side," or better known as "vodoo economics," "unnecessary wars," "bid-free government contracts" to pals of a certain vice-president, and a surge in the price of imported oil because of an unregulated oil industry? Is that the debt you are all of sudden concern about?

I think it amazing you wasn't worried about the national debt during a Republican administration, but given a Democratic administration who is proposing healthcare reform which has been projected to save over $100 billion in federal spending in the next decade, you are suddenly concerned and "scared?"

Bart DePalma said...

Dwight said...

BD: [The voters were] overwhelmingly white, over 40 years old, attended college, earn more than $50,000 and live in the suburbs or in rural areas. These are standard conservative and Tea Party member demographics.

Wait, this is NOT what you've said before. Before you explicitly said they were generally NOT college educated and you at least gave the impression that they were NOT in the higher income ranges, were more middle to lower-middle class.


Huh?

I said they were middle income, class and educated.

I said Tea Party members are not generally rich. Having a family income of $50K is hardly rich in NJ or much of VA.

I said that the professionals like myself were rare in the Tea Party movement. Folks with graduate degrees went Dem according to the exit polling. The folks with some college or a undergraduate degree are very common in the Tea Party movement.

The reason I noted the exit polling is because it was nearly perfectly consistent with my personal observations of the Tea Party folks.

BTW, our local Tea Party organization, which matches the demographics I cited in NJ and VA almost perfectly, is meeting in Saturday to come up with ways to lobby our Blue Dogs against Obamacare. You are welcome to see us for yourself - if you can find standing room.

Bart DePalma said...

BTW, the Tea Party folks are currently rallying in DC again to personally lobby their Congress critters at their offices. CSPAN is covering it.

It will be interesting to see over 10,000 Tea Party folks going to their Congress critter's office on Capital Hill. This should be a change of pace for a corrupt Congress used to being wined and dined by the K Street crowd. I wonder how many have fled their offices to avoid their pesky constituents?

brian said...

Mr. Uni-

No, you in fact did make the term up. $10 if you can find me a quote of anyone on Fox ever using that term.

John-

My guess is most people don't give a care about gay guys marrying when unemployment is 10%. But you guys keep making it your #1 issue. Boy, and they said healthcare was a distraction. Its the economy stupid.

shrinkers said...

@Bart DePalma
It will be interesting to see over 10,000 Tea Party folks going to their Congress critter's office on Capital Hill.

This is a thing being organized by one of my favorite nutcases, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (a local nutter here in Minnesota). It clearly shows the teabaggers fro what they are - not a grass-roots movement, but a movement loosely organized and managed by cynical self-promoters like Bachmann (Rush, Beck, etc.) who are trying to advance their own careers and/or media $$$.

Bachman is a media whore. One of her chief aides resigned the other day, saying that when the captain of a ship is a nut, it's time to get on a different boat.

If Teabaggery has become little more than the personal ad campaigns of people like Palin and Bachmann, there's not much to be scared of there.

shrinkers said...

Interesting news from those icons of socialist nazi commie big-gummint pro-taxation groups, the AMA and AARP. They've endorsed the House Health Care bill:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/05/health.care/

urielthebright said...

Your conclusion concerning what groups make up the American "independent" column is spot-on. Frankly, American "independents" would mostly be in separate, minor, or third parties in most other political systems around the world. The far-left and far-right voters would be in far-left and far-right parties; centrists and moderates would be in center parties, and so on. Just interesting how in our country "indepedent" is in the place of what we'd rather be a part of, and despite functioning so perfectly according to Duverger's Law, we still have the subconscious desire for the feeling, perhaps, of parliamentarianism.

brian said...

Yep, those 10,000 people mean nothing. Same as those Tuesday election results. Just like those angry townhalls were just a bunch of loons--not real anger. Yep, everyone's still is full of that Obama/Pelosi love. Keep on with the course, full speed ahead.

Juris said...

@BDP again: In case you missed Nate's Nov. 2nd prediction on the NJ gov race (4-3 odds in favor of Christie, as I posted above), on election day Nate also posted a 57% chance of Christie win.

Again: no regular 538.com reader was "stunned" by Christie's win -- except you. Or aren't you a regular reader of 538?

Andy said...

I note Rove's predictive powers were tested in 2006 and found wanting.

On the national level the Progressive Wing of the Democrat party won decisively. They picked-up a vote from CA-10 and the Blue Dog coalition lost a vote. A formerly held Republican seat switched. While no one knows where Owens is going to end-up it's another vote, or, at a minimum, potential vote, for the House Democratic Leadership instead of an (almost) assured No vote.

New Jersey -- don't know enough to comment in-depth, although if Christie goes four years without being indicted I'll be surprised. Also a politician with Approval numbers in the 30s is in deep doo-doo.

Virginia -- Deeds ran his campaign using the Blue Dog strategy and lost a state President Obama won by not using the Blue Dog strategy.

OK, what to take away from this?

First, in any election there is the base who will vote for the candidate of their party no matter what. Here, it seems, the GOP has the edge.

Second, there are voters who will vote for the candidate of their party IF the candidate "speaks to them" - however defined - and motivates them - in some way - to go and vote. Comparing the Virginia 2008 and 2009 results in both NJ and Virginia it is easy to conclude the Democrats have the advantage.

Third, to win the seat the candidate must persuade Independents, those loosely attached to a party, to vote for him/her. Corollary: some "Independents" will NEVER vote for a candidate of a particular party; trying to 'bank 'em' is a waste of time and effort, as well as risking, turning off, those voters in the #2 Category, above.

This was the mistake Deeds made in Virginia and the "Tea Baggers" in NY-23.

Given the above it's possible to start making some tentative conclusions:

A. In a pure #1 Base election the GOP seems, at this point, to have the advantage.

B. If the Democrats can expand the electorate to include a large, enough, #2 population they, at this point, have the advantage.

C. To WIN the candidate must rope-in enough of "their" "Independents" to put them over the top. This is where a grassroots ground game, GOTV, & etc pays big dividends. Here I have to give the Democrats the advantage based on the 2008 results.

All of this is Politics 101 but I need to say it in order to say ...

Nationally the 2009 elections intimates the GOP is in deep trouble. When a party has to depend on lowering the number of people voting to win and/or for the opposing candidate to make fundamental mistakes in their campaign strategy they are Out of Step, in some way, with the broad mass of voters.

Resines: the calculation of the angle from a line drawn from the centerpoint of a res to the circumference of the res and a point on the circumference of a res, not to equal or exceed 90 degrees.

filistro said...

Urielthebright said:

Just interesting how in our country "indepedent" is in the place of what we'd rather be a part of, and despite functioning so perfectly according to Duverger's Law, we still have the subconscious desire for the feeling, perhaps, of parliamentarianism.

Yes, I agree. Parliamentarianism has an innate appeal to Americans because theirs is a hands-on and impatient nation, where "dithering" and impotence are anathema.

People feel much more potent in a country where they can bring the govt down next week if they wish, kick the bums out and start over. MUCH more satisfying than waiting 4 years for another 51-49 outcome.

On the other hand I think that despite the potential entertainment value, Americans could never function in a parliamentary system because of another national characteristic... fractiousness.

Pan said...

Well, Bart, I guess you've answered my question by ignoring it. Didn't like the implications that your whole argument is based on a logical fallacy, eh?

shrinkers said...

@brian
Yep, those 10,000 people mean nothing. Same as those Tuesday election results. Just like those angry townhalls were just a bunch of loons--not real anger. Yep, everyone's still is full of that Obama/Pelosi love. Keep on with the course, full speed ahead.

I agree completely. Could not have said it better myself. (No counts, by the way, are yet up to 10,000, though it's possible there are going to be that many there - Bachmann spent a lot of cash promoting it.)

Tuesday? you mean the referendum on the Democratic-controlled Congress that happened in NY-23? That was an important result - Faux News insisted, before the vote, that particular contest would be something that changed the landscape, and I hope they were right!

And yes, I agree, the summer town-hall "protests" were transparently organized by loons - would you like to see the memos? They're easily available.

And, you betcha we're saying the course. Health care reform is going to pass. It's about time we delivered on this promise that America has been striving for since the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

Thanks, Brian. I'm glad you agree!

Just John said...

Andy-spot on and fair. Nicely done.

Adam said...

In a previous analysis of NJ, didn't Nate also mention that many registered Republicans were self-identifying as "independent?" If that's indeed the case, it would seem that Republican voters are still following their expteced voting trends, just bucking the label of "Republican."

If I were a pundit, I'd say that's because people don't want to be associated with the party in its nadir, having screwed things up royally for >=8 years and showing little indication of current productivity. But see, that's why I'm not a pundit; that would just be an opinion.

brian said...

Hate to tell you....health care is not going to pass. Notice how its slowly getting delayed more and more. They're trying to let you libs down easy. There's a reason its failed so many times----no one wants it! But the libs keep wanting to shove it down America's throat. Same as gay marriage. 0 for 31 in votes, but damnit America is hungering for it.

Just John said...

Another factor to consider in the MSM's "reporting" "work" this week is the plain and obvious reason behind their "this is a referendum on Obama" meme. Websites and news programs will receive more clicks and generate more ratings if the President is incorporated into the discussion. He's a rock-star, still, a celebrity ratings magnet, a reason for folks to turn in. The networks would be in effect GIVING money away by claiming that the NJ and VA votes were mainly about local politicians and their campaigns' effectiveness and their own popularity. It was the responsible thing, financially, for the MSM outlets to do.

I'm not going to pretend that Tuesday's voters weren't excited to go out and give BHO a big slap in the face. Many of them truly were, and they showed up to vent their frustration and powerlessness, which they got to do. We liberals got to do the same thing in 2006 and 2008 with Bush. It's just that Obama didn't figure into the picture nearly as much as the talking heads said he did. (Nate has covered this already ad nauseam.)

Andy said...

Just John -- Thank You.

shrinkers said...

Cool, brian. Dueling predictions on health care reform. Since all of the polls say substantial majorities of the public wants it (~ 70%), I'd think it'll pass. But I could be wrong. Let's meet again in a few months and see where we are. Till then, it's "Yeah it will!" "No it won't!" which isn't very informative, productive, or even interesting :)

shrinkers said...

Andy - I'd like to echo Just John. Cool bit of fair-minded analysis.

Dwight said...

@Bart

Umm, "earn more than $50,000" is not the same as a family income of $50,000. On both individual versus family part and the $50,000 part (one being OVER). I understand it varies from area to area but out in the sticks, even in NJ and VA, the middle class income range starts well below $50,000/family.


P.S. I took attended college to mean they actually got a degree...rather than showed up for a kegger? My bad. :) Or is this one of those "college is not university, it's tech school, and/or undergraduate as the end goal" things? I didn't think that was standard word usage state-side?

harold said...

Lehman -

as deficit spending wasn't all that scary to some. Now, with people facing real insolvency, more of us are looking up and that huge pile of wasted money that is our national debt and (rightly IMHO) see it as a looming disaster that makes social issues like abortion, gay rights, the environment, and universal health care seem like, at most, side issues. You don't blow money you don't have on things that you don't need when you are hip deep in debt.

I'll hand it to Mule Rider and Brian.

At least they don't hide their views and make false claims to be something they aren't.

The historical record is very clear.

Bush inherited a surplus, but blew it with non-stimulatory tax cuts to people who didn't need tax cuts, useless wars, and piles of pork shoveled at the "loyal".

Obama inherited a serious deficit and a lot of commitments to spending, in the middle of a serious recession.

It's one thing to deny that, while honestly presenting yourself as a biased right winger.

It's another thing altogether - and far more shameful - to claim to be an "independent" while doing so.

Andy said...

shrinkers -- and Thank You.

Been reading 538 obsessively for Mr. Silver's, other FP'ers and some commentators analysis and insights since it went live.

And now ... I must go pretend to work. :-)

Dan said...

Codey would have won easily in NJ. He had none of the taint of actually being in charge as the economy went south, he's a friendly guy who everyone liked while he was filling in for McGreevey after his scandal. But he was on the wrong side of the machine, so he wasn't allowed to run in 2005, and the Dems didn't try hard enough to have Corzine step down when he was 20 points behind in June.

So now, I'll just sit here and wait for my Property taxes to go down, right? Because Christie said he'd do it. And I'm going to give him at least as long as the Pubs have given Obama to fix the economy, 20 minutes.

brian said...

I doubt you'll find many conservatives defending many Bush economic policies....especially his spending habits. Course, the "Bush sucked worse" motto is wearing thin with many. Also, the surplus wasn't real since it was highly driven by excess tax receipts caused by the internet bubble. You collect alot in cap gains tax when NASDAQ is at 5000. Just saying.

Lehman said...

Harold,

Huh?

First (and foremost): I am a fiscal conservative. I was deeply troubled by Bush's economic policies, his dangerous expansion of entitlements and his total disregard for cost containment federally. I was not for the Iraq war, but since we are in it, we should be in it to win it, not slinking out with our tails btwen our legs. I keep my religious views to myself, think that gay marriage should be legal and abortion left up to those who might ever get pregnant (and since I am a dude, I won't). While I do think that many businesses are greedy and cut-throat, in general, they are in the business of making profits, which is a good thing, while the government is is the habit of spending money which, not only did they not earn it, they haven't even the decency to stay within the amounts they tax.

I don't hide the fact that fiscally I am a social liberal and am deeply uncomfortable with the "values" crap peddled by the GOP. But I am also deeply untroubled by the environment, and since that is the left's big religion, I am left to vote for the candidate that I think will do the least damage to me, mine and causes I care about.

Whenever someone has the temerity to mention that Obama spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave, Bush's spending is brought up. It is IMMATERIAL in that his hands aren't on the purse strings anymore, Obama's are and he is spending faster than anyone ever has. Quit bringing up the Bush boogeyman, as the problem right now is Obama and his cap and trade and his health care bills and his stimulus pakage that is flushing our nation down the damn toilet.

The thing that gets me is that the lefties on this board have the lack of self-knowledge to not see themselves as the extreme left-wingers that they are. You are not moderate. At all.

And my disciption of things like gay rights and the environment as something we don't need was meant to say that, at a point of financial crisis, focusing on gay marriage is taking you eye off of the very real disaSter in your face. And talking about adding to government spending (in the form of health care) at this time is fucking moronic! Hamstringing businesses with a cap and trade bill that, without India and China on board, will do bubkus foe the environment is ludicrous.

It makes me glad that the only thing politicians seem to give a shit about is getting re-elected, as the very real voter anger about the wasteful spending will scare them into not voting for the crap health care bill and possibly even shelving cap and trade.

No matter how you spin it, the business of america is business, and business is bad and the current powers-that-be are making it worse.


Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Jasonk said...

You said about the independents going for the victor, " This must necessarily be the case."

Actually, I think that is false. The key in NJ where I live was turnout.

I went past my polling place in a heavily Democratic area, and the place was empty all night. Democrats simply did not get excited for Corzine.

Pragmatus said...

The only demonstrable lesson Tuesday offered was that the electorate is not particularly interested in the ultra-conservative brand.

Prior to the votes being cast, everyone on the right (not to mention all the polls) were crowing that NY-23 would be a watershed moment in the country’s swing back to Goldwater-type conservatism. Wrong. The same district that returned its conservative GOP congressman to office in 2008 with 65% of the vote said “No thanks” to Sarah Palin’s new and improved “bridge to nowhere”—uber-conservative Doug Hoffman. In fact they voted for the Democrat Bill Owens by a very wide margin.

This was the only slap in the face delivered on Tuesday, and it was directed at—and landed squarely upon—the teabagger lunacy that has been getting a little ahead of itself lately. (Troll through Bart De Palma’s recent posts for a quick review.)

Lehman said...

Enthusiasm certainly plays a huge part in election. Obama said all the right things and exuded charisma. Couple that with a lot of anti-bush sentiment and virtually no pro-McCain excitement, and that gets you 53%.

I am hoping that 2010 brings in some true fiscal conservatives with even a modicum of the charisma of the President. Of course, it's difficult to get exited about financial prudence.

Bart DePalma said...

Prag:

The Conservative and GOP party tickets obtained a majority of the vote in NY-23 even after Scozza told her supporters to go Dem. Outside of CA-10, no Dem picked up a majority of the vote.

This is your basis for celebration?

Next year, there will be a primary and a unified conservative ticket. Scozza will be working for a living again in the private sector, if she can find a job in blue, blue NY.

Pan said...

Bart:

As we have been told time and time again, Scozza was actually a liberal. I've heard it said plenty of times she was left of Owens.

As such, no the liberal side picked up the majority and the conservative side was in the minority.

Personally, I think either your interpretation or this one is spin. But you have to recognize it goes both ways.

Jacob said...

@Lehman

Whether further spending is needed is a matter on which reasonable people can differ.

Many many people (and no not just "extreme left-wingers") understand that in order to not only fix our economy but make it more stable, we need to spur job creation, we need to fix the health care system, we need to infuse money into local economies, etc.

And when faced with criticism of such necessary spending by folks who championed thoroughly unnecessary spending for eight years (not saying you're one of them), I think it's only fair to point out the hypocrisy.

You believe the benefits of this approach will be outweighed by the detriments of rising debt. That's fair, and it may or may not come to pass in the long term.

But I do get sick of right-wing rhetoric that necessary taxation is just "giving the government money" with no explanation that actually, that money is being spent on programs to benefit everyone (whether or not we agree on whether they end up working).

I get sick of hearing about the dangers of unspecified "over-spending" as though Democrats were buying themselves luxury cars and designer jeans rather than pulling the economy from the brink of collapse and working to ensure that sick children can see a doctor.

Revenue collected from taxes is not a goddamn allowance for the "government," it's how we finance the things that we need to do as a society and can't do through private means. And if excessive taxation causes too many problems in a bad economy, then yes, we borrow the money.

And I'm sorry to hear that you don't care about the environment. That's just really, really short-sighted. But ultimately we all do have to make some sacrifices to ensure a more habitable planet for the species in a long term. Sorry, but it's just the truth.

Pragmatus said...

Lehman…

Unfortunately “fiscally conservative” does not describe the GOP. What does describe them is steering the resources of the country (and the Treasury) to those people who already have plenty, the public debt be damned. (The following Dick Cheney quote illustrates one of the GOP’s most bedrock principles—“Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”)

This isn’t Blame It On Bush—every last Republican in Congress since Ronald Reagan’s first term has held this philosophy, and if they are ever given unfettered access to the Treasury again it will be the same old story. The jillionaires will be lining up around the block for their handouts.

True “fiscal conservatism” means keeping the GOP in the minority in Congress and out of the White House.

Jacob said...

Bart, saying no Democrat but Garamendi won a majority of the vote is like saying no Republican but McDonnell won a majority of the vote.

But Owens and Christie both did win.

And there were many other races. Dozens of legislators and mayors of both parties (okay many more Dems with the mayors) won, the vast majority of them with majorities.

Pragmatus said...

Bart De Publican…

Please explain where this titanic “conservative wave” you were crowing about is. I have my microscope out and can’t find it even using that.

What Pan says is true—Scozzafava was savaged by the GOP for being a liberal, so your math is wrong. According to GOP gospel the total vote for the left in NY-23 was 54%, while the “conservative wave” polled 45%.

Hard to make a revolution from those figures, although I’m sure it won’t stop you from trying.

yoink said...

brian wrote:

Mr. Uni-

No, you in fact did make the term up. $10 if you can find me a quote of anyone on Fox ever using that term.


Ahem.

Please donate the $10 to your local branch of the ACLU in my name.

Tree said...

@ brian, nations hunger for freedom and justice. Even if the tyrannical majority isn't ready to give it to them, the country as a whole wants it and needs it to be a truly civilized and worthy nation.

0 for 31 means nothing. It could go 0 for 50 and it wouldn't change the fundamental nature of the fight. Justice will win. Hatred and fear will lose. So it has always been, and so it will always be.

Mr. Universe said...

No, you in fact did make the term up. $10 if you can find me a quote of anyone on Fox ever using that term.

John-


No we didn't. It was all over FOX Noise. Everyone of your punditry was obliviously parading the term 'teabagger' around. Not to mention all the folks running around like they are today with signs that had it on there. All the liberal shows put together an hommage, if you will. That's why it was so funny. Jon Stewart in particular.

If you don't believe me...well, go google yourself. Stewart, Olbermann, Maddow. They're all on the internets around the same date. I don't get baited by cheap ass bets with douchebags who won't do a little digging around themselves.

Best of luck with your bussed in astrofurf rallies today (we did make that one up). I'm sure Glenn Beck has the total number of protesters pegged a oh...quarter of a million by now.

I'll say it again. A loud minority does not trump the will of the majority. You will see health care reform pass. Get used to it.

Mr. Universe said...

Oh, Thanks, yoink

Lehman said...

Jacob,

calm, cogent and reasoned. Unique.

Perhaps a more measured approach to health care reform, might work. One with a nearly $1 trillion dollar price tag should be considered at a time like this. A bill that lays tariffs on business that are net rpoducers of carbon dioxide that was not present before will necessarily reduce their profitability, thereby costing jobs. Forcing people to spend their money on health insurance, when they don't want to (whether I think they should, which I do, is immaterial) is not right and diverts spending from other areas of the economy to one of then governments choosing.

And I would pay my taxes gladly ( and would even pay more) if I had any faith that a politician of any stripe would spend it wisely. That's why I donate money to groups in whom I have confidence in their honesty and believe in their goals. Women to women international ans save the children are such. I simply view the majority of politicians as interested in being elected and re-elected in perpetuity based on their ability to funnel money and favors to their state, region and supporters.

And if there were some way to fix " climate change" that didn't include disproportionate harm to the US economy relative to other countries, then I say have at it, but it WILL be disproportionate, and even then, it is nebulous whether it will have any effect.

I guess I am old school. When one runs low on money, one spends less. This idea of spending a way out of this mess is inflationary and financially unsound. Budget cuts suck. I know that. Someone always loses when money is tight, but that doesn't mean you go along happily spending anyway. If they would actually sit down and say "Here's what we are going to do and here's how we'll pay for it" with out pie-in-the-sky ideas of magically appearing revenues or the lib mantra "Tax the rich", maybe my faith in them would return. Until they do that, they have earned my mistrust.

And it is only hypocritical to complain about Obama if you celebrated Bush for behaving similarly. I didn't. Most didn't. So pointing it out is tantamount to saying "Well your guy wasted money too, we're just wasting it on stuff WE want."

shrinkers said...

It is fun to see the right wing running from Bush, when he was their darling for 8 years. Historical rewrite much? ("We have always been at war with Oceana"... 2 pts to all who get the reference...)

And no, Brian, it isn't "Bush sucked worse", except in the sense "Bush sucked even worse than Reagan." He brought us to economic collapse, lied to get us into an unnecessary war, he ignored the Constitution, he angered our allies and further alienated those who aren't are friends, he further enriched the wealthy while further impoverishing the rest of us, he very nearly destroyed our military capacity though stretching it so thin, he ignored the building environmental catastrophe, he actively dismantled medical research, he did his best to also dismantle civil rights (not only for gays, but for us all - illegal wiretaps anyone?), he encouraged a state of constant fear, be removed America from several vital arms treaties, he tried to destroy science education and the public school system in general, he attempted to privatize social security while also heading a long way toward privatizing our military, he and his friends engaged in war profiteering that would have landed them in Federal prison during WWII, he tripled the price of gas, crippled the airline industry, nearly crippled the entire country through an orgy of deregulation, and all this while he was clearing brush on a ranch, taking more vacation time than any president in history.

Yeah, Bush sucked worse. Than anyone.

But no one here is making the excuse "Bush sucked worse than Obama." We're saying, "Bush created the problems that Obama is at least trying to clean up."

brian said...

Nice one Yoink. Fricking Cavuto. See you had to go back 6 months. Anyway, now my donation can provide a young terrorist with legal counsel so he can be freed on a technicality. Warms my heart. Just sent it.

Jacob said...

Thanks Lehman. Your commentary is unusually well thought out for this site as well.

Ultimately we have different views on the most reasonable approach to fixing the economy, although I'd still say that talking about amorphous "spending" is pretty meaningless without explaining on what it is spent, and what are the intended and likely consequences not only of the debt but of the programs.

I'd agree that climate change legislation without strong international commitment is not an ideal situation, although I would still say anything we can do to reduce this problem is worth some amount of short-term economic risk. How much for what benefit is indeed hard to determine.

Lehman said...

Shrinkers said

But no one here is making the excuse "Bush sucked worse than Obama." We're saying, "Bush created the problems that Obama is at least trying to clean up."

and what many people are saying is that he might simply be making things worse and instigating future problems. But I don't blame him for everything (unlike many do for Bush).

even so, bringing up Bush may make you feel better, but it doesn't change present circumstances and the current administration (in which I include Messrs Pelosi and Reid) role in them.

Keep in mind that a President can only do so much, a great deal of the problems we have today we products of the Senate and House, and often had bipartisan support.

shrinkers said...

Lehman
Perhaps a more measured approach to health care reform, might work.

I agree that a measured approach to health care reform is what we need. That's why I support the current plans.

What I feel we really need is a universal single-payer system. The current bills are a measured compromise brought about through months of hard bargaining.

It is, unfortunately, a tendency of the Republican Party to stand in the way of change - to demand concessions, to convince the Dems to compromise - then to still insist we need a more "moderate" proposal, and vote against it anyway.

The sort of Modest Proposals the Repubs usually come up with, unfortunately, are the sorts of things we had under Bush. Not very useful, and usually pretty destructive.

Bart DePalma said...

Here is full report on the Tea Party protest of Pelosi care festivities from Politico.

TPM is reporting here and here that Dem Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff had ten non-violent Tea Party protestors, including an ill elderly priest, arrested:

They were charged with unlawful entry (entering a Congressional office and refusing to leave when told to do so) and/or disorderly conduct (yelling in the hallway outside an office) at Room 235 in the Cannon House Office Building...

[P]rotesters in the crowd watching the arrests were furious. They shouted "Let them go!" and one man yelled at the police that "Martin Luther King" was being dishonored and shouted "Letter from Birmingham Jail!"

One woman told officers they were "shameful."

"This is America, this is not the Soviet Union," one woman said...

That woman later told the officers, "I know you guys are just doing your job but don't you hate your job?"

"I'm embarrassed," another woman told her friends.

"Read your history books," another woman shouted at the officers.

"Thugs from Chicago," a man shouted at police.

"Arrest Nancy Pelosi for treason. You're arresting the wrong people," another shouted.

One of the men arrested appeared to be wearing a priest's collar. He was ill, and officers were holding him up as he sat on the curb. After several minutes, he was led away in an ambulance and the crowd shouted that he was a "hero."

"Shame on you!" the crowd erupted.

"In your heart you know this is wrong," a man yelled at police.

Lovely. Is Pelosi and her staff politically brain dead? They know these folks were coming and they sick the police on ten nonviolent protestors including a priest with videos running?

Meanwhile, there are thousands more Tea Party constituents trying to enter the Longworth office building trying to speak with their Representatives, to appreciative honks by passing motorists.

Pragmatus said...

Bart De Palma…

Don’t get me wrong. I wish you every success in getting your Tea Party off the ground. You have powerful allies on your side, including the noisiest person in Congress (Michelle Bachmann) the noisiest person out of Congress (Sarah Palin) and the entire right-wing talk-radio universe.

I can’t think of a better gift to the country than the wedge you are proposing to drive right smack through the middle of the GOP.

shrinkers said...

@Lehman
and what many people are saying is that he might simply be making things worse and instigating future problems.

True, but I was responding to the comment that "Bush was worse" was being used as a defense of Obama. It isn't, to my knowledge.

But I don't blame him for everything (unlike many do for Bush).

Understood. Personally, I try to blame Bush for what Bush did.

even so, bringing up Bush may make you feel better, but it doesn't change present circumstances

A fair point. Nevertheless, I think it is reasonable and relevant to remind us that most of the proposed "solutions" from the right are, in fact, precisely the things that Bush did to get us here. I personally (I don't speak for others) do not talk about Bush for the sake of merely condemning something, but as a reminder that most of the suggested conservative policies have already been tried, and found lacking.

Deregulation, coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy, capital gains tax cuts, etc.- I mention Bush as a reminder of the period in which that strategy was tried.
It led to a worldwide economic collapse. It isn't going to get us out of one.

Lehman said...

Jacob, Same to you. It seems that one must do a lot of sidestepping predjudice to get a point across in here.

I agree that "spending" is pretty general, but so is "Stimulus package" and "TARP funds" and "health care reform"

The thing I never understand is why everything has to be comprehensive to be a bill. If doing one thing is good, why can't they just do that one thing. Why does it have to be lumped in with a bunch of other things, a citation to make Oct 16th "national liverwurst day" and a Robert Byrd Memorial hotdog stand for Charleston West Va?

Have a bill that says insurance companies can't deny coverage based on pre-existing condition. Period. Boom. Next up? Allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. Period, Next up? That's how we get 2000 page bills that that dipshit in Michigan won't even read.

Obfuscation is lying and I feel lied to. It really can'y be all that difficult to do the logical thing and explain it. We're big boys, we can handle the truth (in George Constanz's voice).

Lehman said...

Yes, but shrinkers, by allowing yourself to fall into the trap of "it was all Bush's fault" or making him your personal poster child for political stupidity, you give a free pass to all the idiots on your side of the aisle who helped make the past year and an half a reality (and I am staring directly at Barney frank among others).. By blaming the GOP for all that is evil, you are deluding yourself the same way the {alinites and the Rush followers want to make everything about Obama (and made everythi ng about CLinton years back).

It doesn't happen in a vacuum, as much as Nancy Pelosi would like to rewrite history to say that it did.

bugjah said...

This has probably already been said, but following on Nate's point that independents are a very broad, grab-bag group, it seems more likely that what happened was that the TYPE of independents who voted in this election changed relative to 2008, rather than the conclusion that "independent voters moved into the GOP column" as Rove put it.

yoink said...

brian wrote:

See you had to go back 6 months.

Yes, because a while ago Fox decided to rewrite history and claim that "teabagger" was a "hate" term invented by the left to sully the good name of the Tea Party Protesters. Once they decided to run with that lie, they generally stopped using the term. Of course that's SOP for Fox; I remain amazed at how happy their audience are to be lied to, but by this point I've long given up hoping that there will be some straw that breaks the camel's back. There is, apparently, no lie too blatant for their audience to swallow, and swallow happily.

shiloh said...

shiloh said...

Bart DePalma said...
~~~~~~~~~~


BDP, one was sooo astute in your NY-23 political analysis, the NY Post should hire you immediately, eh! ;)

ie

What analytical thinking process did one use before you made these astute political statements/predictions:

Hoffman will win this in a walk.

Then again, if hopes were money, the Dems would be rich. Owens best shot was an effective Scozza campaign splitting the GOP vote. That distant hope is now gone. Hoffman will win this race easily and the conservative rebellion will go viral in the GOP.


Then again, if hopes were money ...

Indeed BDP's typical spin relies much more on hope than critical analysis!

Keep hope alive!

take care

shrinkers said...

A reasonable argument, Lehman. I think we agree on the principle I think you're stating - that responsibility should go to those responsible. We may, however, on (more than) a few points disagree on where that responsibility appropriately lies.

Example - I was (and am) pissed at all the Dems who didn't have the spine to vote against the resolution that Bush requested to give him the power to invade Iraq. But I hold Bush responsible for lying to America and so scaring scaring Congress into agreeing with his request.

Similarly with things like the "Patriot Act" - there is no excuse for having voted for that piece of totalitarian trash. But again, the Bush administration intentionally created the conditions that would insure its passage.

Examples only here - I am not disagreeing with your point.

shrinkers said...

Excellent point, bugjah, I'm sure you're right.

yoink said...

Lehman wrote:

and I am staring directly at Barney frank among others

What did Barney Frank do to bring about the current crisis? And please, if you answer this, I'd like you to give an instance of something he did, some piece of legislation he personally pushed through Congress or some other piece that he managed to get killed etc. I think we can all agree that one quotation in the NYTimes from Barney Frank to the effect that Fannie Mae was not about to go under did not magically bring about recent economic downturn.

Want to know one of the really bizarre ironies of the Right's decision to make Frank it's poster boy for the subprime loan crisis? He has actually always been opposed to the idea of trying to move poor people into home ownership. He has always argued that support for subsidized rental accommodation is far more important. As far as I can tell the sole reason the GOP and their supporters got fixated on Frank was because he's gay.

Lehman said...

Fair popints (I disagree with the Patriot act one, but no matter)

I hold firm to one principle whenit comes to the US government: if they think it needs to be done fast, slow the fuck down. Timetables are for trains, if something is true and important, then perhaps care should be taken to get it right, not fast. I don't know if this is an urban legend, but if Rahm Emmanuel actually said "Never let a good crisis go to waste." then he should have been out on his ass in a split second, because that line is all about pulling a fast one. Stimulus? too fast ans spent poorly if spent at all. Cap and Trade? too fast. No real idea of the economic impact or the conflicts of interest of the prinicples. Health care? as more time passes it becomes less radical, more measured and more reasonable (not there yet).

When it came to Iraq, the sense of urgency was what puched it past people whom I thought were fairly bright. When it comes to the Patriot Act, I actually fear the government's involvement in my health care more than eavesdropping on my phone conversations.

Fast is bad. Period.

Persuter said...

Whenever someone has the temerity to mention that Obama spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave, Bush's spending is brought up. It is IMMATERIAL in that his hands aren't on the purse strings anymore, Obama's are and he is spending faster than anyone ever has. Quit bringing up the Bush boogeyman, as the problem right now is Obama and his cap and trade and his health care bills and his stimulus pakage that is flushing our nation down the damn toilet.

On the day Obama was inaugurated, the projected 2009 federal deficit was 1.1 trillion. He inherited a massive deficit, yes, from Bush, because of the current massive economic crisis. The largest economic crisis since the Great Depression would be expected to result in the largest federal deficits since World War 2. That is completely unsurprising.

Yet you have the cojones to claim that the problem "right now" is that his "health care bills" and cap and trade are "flushing our nation down the toilet" despite the fact that they haven't even been passed yet! Somehow the problem ISN'T the current massive economic crisis, but things that do not even exist!


I am hard-pressed to see posts like these, which I see repeatedly from conservatives, as anything other than an attempt to whitewash history. It seems like you only insist on fiscal conservatism from Democrats.

shrinkers said...

Lehman -

Reasonably argued. Starting from that assumption, your reasoning is sound.

For me, there are some instances that do need speed. Also, there are some (like health care) that we've actually been working on for nearly a century, so I don't view the current push as "too fast". For others, there are things that need to be done, and that can only be done during limited time frames when conditions are proper.

But I cannot disagree that there have been times when things have been done in a panic that should have had a lot more contemplation behind them.

On health care reform - the proposals as I understand them won't lead to "the government's involvement in my health care" to the extent that I think the right fears. We may have a disagreement on that - perhaps a discussion of particular points would be appropriate, though I suspect we'd still disagree on most of them.

shrinkers said...

Something huge happening, right now -

Fort Hood, Texas Shooting: 12 dead, 31 injured


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail??blogid=95&entry_id=51083

Dwight said...

brian said...

I doubt you'll find many conservatives defending many Bush economic policies....especially his spending habits.


Yet so many aspire to bring back Ronald Reagan whose overall policy, although not a mirror (Enron clusterbang drove public desire to accounting regulation), was roughly 43rd but with a Congress that actually somewhat blunted his spending. *shrug*

yoink said...

Lehman wrote:

if Rahm Emmanuel actually said "Never let a good crisis go to waste." then he should have been out on his ass in a split second, because that line is all about pulling a fast one.

This is just nonsense. The phrase is not one Emanuel invented, it's a saying that you'll find floating around in all kinds of business-school and self-help books. Only someone who has already made up their mind that the speaker of the phrase is somehow evil or underhand could see it as inherently threatening. It's simply a variant on that good old '80s cliche "crisis is another name for opportunity." In other words: at a time of crisis it becomes possible to achieve certain kinds of salutary restructuring or rethinking that aren't possible in normal times.

I know the paranoid teabaggers like to think that somehow he was implying that you should deliberately provoke a crisis in order to profit from it, but that simply isn't there in the words themselves and isn't there in its (widespread) usage by others prior to Rahm's usage. I'm quite certain that if you had heard, say, General Petraeus use the phrase in the midst of the Iraqi civil war you'd have said "gosh, what a natural leader he is, seeing a way to rethink strategy in Iraq rather than just passively reacting to the chaos!" But when Rahm Emanuel says it its suddenly a terrifying embrace of Machiavellianism.

Dwight said...

Something huge happening, right now

Over 10 dead is big. That it may be active duty personal is big. But that it's possible that this was a conspiracy (word is right now 1 dead perp, 2 suspects in custody) rather than a lone person makes it much more remarkable. :/

shrinkers said...

Yes, Dwight. And that it was at a US military facility, and that apparently US soldiers were shooting US soldiers - that's pretty big, too.

Stewart said...

Hey look, trolls like depalma can walk around with erections all they want. Since they have royally had their ass kicked for the last 4years I can see why they are living in ecstasy rightnow. Let them enjoy fantasy land and let the realists in this country speak in '10

The teabaggers are nothing. However, I expect them to report that about 1.5 million people showed up in DC today.

Bart DePalma said...

shrinkers said...

Yes, Dwight. And that it was at a US military facility, and that apparently US soldiers were shooting US soldiers - that's pretty big, too.

This sounds very, very bad. Three shooters, allegedly led by a major with an arabic name who recently converted to Islam, have murdered 12 and wounded 30+ fellow soldiers.

shiloh said...

On a related note:

New Report Reveals That 75% of Young Americans Are Unfit for Military Service

According to an alarming new report, 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are unable to enlist in the military because they fail to graduate high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and some of America's top retired military brass will
hold a news conference at the National Press Club Thursday to call for immediate action to address this national security threat.


carry on

brian said...

Dwight-

Reagan was revolutionary for conservatives in that he lowered taxes, which basically had been steadily raised for 60+ years. I can't think of a majot domestic spending program he initiated either. Also, I think the short term money he spent winning the cold war was probably the best investment this country ever made.

yoink said...

brian wrote:

Also, I think the short term money he spent winning the cold war was probably the best investment this country ever made.

Military spending by the USSR was completely flat through the Reagan period. The hypothesis that what drove the Soviet economy to collapse was an attempt to keep up with Reagan's enormously increased military spending is simply untrue.

yoink said...

Oh, and if you want to revisit Reagan's complex history with tax reform, here's a pretty good link: "Ronald Reagan raised taxes (you idiots)."

Dwight said...

Reagan was revolutionary for conservatives in that he lowered taxes, which basically had been steadily raised for 60+ years.

I remember someone in the US, when I lived in Canada, complaining about "Jimmy Carter's" 70% top tax bracket. Well imagine my surprise when I found out that it wasn't Jimmy Carter's at all, it was a holder from Nixon....who had lowered it to that.

I can't think of a majot domestic spending program he initiated either.

Irrelavent to whether or not he was fiscially conservative.

Further what was 43rd's big expansion domestic spending expansion? Paying more money for similar, if not crappier, coverage for those under Medicare. A rehash of the privatization shuffle con game from the 80's.


Also, I think the short term money he spent winning the cold war was probably the best investment this country ever made.

Setting aside the debate about it's effectiveness and merits, it still underlines that he advicated spending a lot more than taking in, and he did it in a similar way to 43rd. Further lowered the taxes on the most able to pay them, and spent a buttload on military.

This is why the use of the term "fiscal conservative" is such a joke...that isn't even funny. :/

shrinkers said...

@brian
Also, I think the short term money he spent winning the cold war was probably the best investment this country ever made.

I won't argue this point in detail (this probably isn't the thread for it) but I will simply and briefly present a different point of view in an effort to dispute this common meme.

Reagan did not "win" the cold war by spending a bunch of money. The Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse anyway - politically and economically. It is pretty sure that the USSR would have fallen apart from internal pressures (and, therefore, ended the cold war) regardless of anything Regan did.

Further, if anything, Regan served to exacerbate tensions, making the war worse during his presidency. For example, Gorbachev was willing to completely dismantle all nuclear weapons - Reagan did not agree to this, preferring instead to push his "Star Wars" space-based ICBM defense system. If anyone other than Reagan had been president, this agreement alone would have gone a long way to reducing tensions between our two countries, and thus ending the cold war.

Reagan spent far more on the military than was necessary. It is claimed that his spending forced the USSR to spend more, thus bankrupting them and forcing an end to the cold war. In fact, we were spending nearly 10 times as much as they were - that level was not necessary, as the Soviets could not possibly keep up with us, even at a much lower level. If the argument about how Reagan ended the war is true, the amount Reagan spent was still excessive.

Reagan's saber-rattling made matters worse, by unnecessarily increasing and prolonging tensions, Gorbachev was willing to improve relations between our countries. Reagan wanted none of that.

brian said...

Re Reagan:

I won't argue the Cold War too much since its clearly subjective. All I know is USSR somehow survived the death of 10M young men in WWII but somehow libs tell me that in the 80's it really got bad and the system crumbled.

As for tax cuts, Wiki has the breakdown and net net the tax cuts were huge. Especially considering Kennedy had been the only other major tax cut since mid 1900's--so rather revolutionary.

Not Implementing domestic programs is basically fiscal conservatism 101. Once started, govt programs never die---the key is to never start them. That was Reagan.

Dwight said...

Bart DePalma said...

This sounds very, very bad. Three shooters, allegedly led by a major with an arabic name who recently converted to Islam, have murdered 12 and wounded 30+ fellow soldiers.


It is sounding like the suspected Major might have been a medical doctor (someone with that name is registered with a medical license in an eastern seaboard state). Still not confirmed that these really are military personel rather than impersonating one. Just now Rep. Carter's (Fort Hood is in his District) office has said that the 2 soilders that were in custody have been released but a suspect is still at large (in the building?).

This has happened before but in Iraq itself. IIRC back in '91 a soilder (translator?) tossed a grenade in a tent in a camp in Kuwait.

yoink said...

brian writes:

I won't argue the Cold War too much since its clearly subjective.

Actually, the specific claim that the USSR tried to match increased military spending and consequently went broke is not a subjective claim. It's an objective claim. It's also a claim that can be objectively shown to be false.

Given that that central pillar of Reagan's supposed tactic to defeat the Soviet Union can be objectively shown to be a figment of the right's imagination, what's left? What else did Reagan do that would in any way have presented a problem to an otherwise robust Soviet economic system? (Sidebar: isn't it weird how it's always the righties who want to talk up the Soviet system and claim that it was an economic juggernaut destined to last for thousands of years without St. Ronnie's tough-guy interventions?)

As for tax cuts, Wiki has the breakdown and net net the tax cuts were huge.

Actually, wiki's breakdown lists one major tax cut and many minor tax increases for a net effect averaged over four years from passage of the various measure of a rather less-than-stunning .95% of GDP in terms of total tax bite.

Once started, govt programs never die---the key is to never start them.

Star Wars was a govt. program--and a lunatic one. Thankfully one brought to an end by a much, much wiser President.

Alex said...

Great article; the best I've ever read on this site.

loner said...

I left the Republican Party with John Anderson in 1980. The end of fiscal conservatism was my reason. Republicans became the "borrow and spend" party which, in my book, made them more fiscally irresponsible than the "tax and spend" party. I write this as someone who supported Reagan and then voted for Ford in November 1976.

What fiscally responsible governance there was from 1993 thru 2000 was due to the 19% of the vote Ross Perot got in 1992, the 1993 budget, the 1994 elections and the 1995 budget showdown. And then suddenly there was this projected five trillion dollar budget surplus over ten years to spend.

We're still living in those ten years and I've learned to stop worrying about (though not quite to love) the debt. What fiscal crisis?

Pragmatus said...

yoink…

Excellent points.

Since Ronald Reagan was discovered to have Alzheimer’s a cottage industry has sprung up to find some central accomplishment to his presidency. (Tripling the national debt was certainly singular, but not so encouraging when spelled out in the history books.) Since there was little to work with, the theme of Reagan single-handedly winning the Cold War has been the best they can do. This view is espoused however only by the Reagan sanctifiers. Three recent books on the pivotal year 1989 were just reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, a three page article in which Reagan’s name appears just once, when his 1987 “Tear down the wall” speech was mentioned. Reagan’s “contribution” to ending the Cold War was effectively zero.

The architects of the end of Communism were John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev.

And there’s no better word for “Star Wars” than lunacy.

harold said...

Lehman -

Here's the only part of your post I disagreed with, and why -

Whenever someone has the temerity to mention that Obama spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave, Bush's spending is brought up. It is IMMATERIAL in that his hands aren't on the purse strings anymore, Obama's are and he is spending faster than anyone ever has.

How dare you insult the fiscal habits of the brave men and women of the United States Navy?

Just kidding.

But Bush isn't immaterial. I am not crazy about deficits either.

Mainstream economics says that you should aim to reduce the deficit and perhaps even build up a surplus during good times. You may need to do some deficit spending during cyclical bad times. You most certainly should not needlessly run up a deficit in good times.

Clinton did something right, Bush did everything wrong, and Obama is doing what is right, but in much more difficult circumstances than Clinton faced - for now. Obama cannot turn into a penny-pinching cost cutter in the middle of a major recession. Many mainstream economists complain that he is too tight.

Many right wing extremists believe in a policy of "starving the beast" - running up a huge federal deficit, in the hopes of financially destroying the government of the United States of America, for the sole purpose of damaging programs like Medicare and Social Security. I know they believe in that, because they told me so. Bush may well have been trying to do that, I don't know. But that is an irresponsible policy.

Quit bringing up the Bush boogeyman,

Bush is highly relevant, because his economic policies created the recession and forced many of Obama's early actions.

He is also relevant because we need to guard against anyone with his economic policies ever being elected again.

as the problem right now is Obama and his cap and trade and his health care bills and his stimulus pakage that is flushing our nation down the damn toilet.

None of these policies, not even the stimulus package, which I have many problems with (not so much the amount of money as how it was used) is going to flush the country down the toilet.

Useless war for no reason and military spending in excess of what is needed to serve national security interests will burn resources without any benefit, and if continued. Of course, Obama is continuing the ones Bush started, but he hasn't started any of his own yet.

As for "winning in Iraq", please. If our objective was to defeat Saddam Hussein we won a long time ago and should have left. If our objective was, as stated, to neutralize an imminent threat of attack on the US by or from Iraq, we made a mistake - there was none - and should have left. What the hell do you mean by "winning"?

I notice that you used the intensely dishonest and propagandistic term "tail between our legs", to characterize a rational end to the ongoing waste of American lives and resources. If your tails are between our legs, it is because Bush started a war on false pretenses.

Matt said...

Two more instances of right-wingers' use of "Tea Bag" to describe their movement:
TeaBag 1
TeaBag 2

I guess it's fighting dirty when you quote right-wingers verbatim.

By the BTW, Lehman: sometimes it's not wise for government to "slow the fuck down." That's what Hoover did from '29-32.

And in response to your suggestion that Congress should simply pass a law requiring insurance companies to write policies for those pre-existing conditions: that would allow for ginormous loopholes, including (but not limited to) the fact that insurance companies could price such policies out of anyone's capability to pay. The law must sometimes be infuriatingly complex. (Sorry.)

wv: greingl: sounds like the monster in Beowulf. To me, anyway.

former_covansian said...

Pragmatus

I second your opinion... When I visited Poland on a business trip back in 1979 (as a Soviet Union citizen then), the seeds of the future demise of the communism had been already planted there and could be clearly seen. Although I would have the architects in a different order: first Gorbachev, then John Paul II. Reagan was not a star in that drama.

shiloh said...

Lehman said...

Obama spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave,
~~~~~~~~~~


Following up on Harold, again, sailors spend their own money, whereas mostly Republican presidents waste American taxpayer's money of we the people! and increase the National Debt exponentially ...

One is not like the other so lay off U.S. sailors, eh.

Sailor, sailor don't be blue, our recruiter f*cked us too.

I don't know but it's been said, Air Force wings are made of lead!

I don't know but it's been told, Navy wings are made of gold!

United States Navy, 234 years of tradition unhampered by progress ...


Anchors Aweigh !!!

p.s. Reagan increased the Fleet to over (600) ships while at the same time lowering annual increases in military pay, so as always, the military industrial complex that Ike talked about ie Halliburton, Blackwater etc. benefited big time, whereas the average G.I. Joe got screwed.

As chicken hawk Republicans continually talk about supporting the troops ~ Oh the humanity!

joel.skis.bumps said...

I live in Virginia. Deeds ran a horrible campaign. Non-aligned Virginians decided that McConnell would do a better job running the commonwealth, same as the reason they voted for Warner and Kaine before. It's really that simple. It has little to do with national politics, a referendum on Obama, or anything else; it's about running Virginia.

Pragmatus said...

former_covansian…

I didn’t mean to list the Pope as more important than Gorbachev, only that both had a great impact.

Gorbachev was interested in making communism work, and also to get rid of the cobwebs of lies and bureaucracy in the system, yet probably didn’t realize how, by pulling one loose thread, the whole garment would fall apart. But he made vital decisions not to intervene militarily when things began to crumble, not only in Eastern Europe but in the Baltic Republics too, certainly the most important worldwide historical era of my life, while Reagan was still lost in the “evil empire” mindset.

Eli Blake said...

Just as an observation:

If you begin with the hypothesis that next year conservative voters will already be motivated to turn out and therefore they will, and the issue is therefore how to turn out Obama voters (especially younger voters) I'd suggest putting relatively controversial ballot initiatives (i.e. legalization of marijuana, legalization of internet gambling, sanctioning gay marriage) on the ballot in any state where it is feasible that such a measure could actually win or be competitive.

You could argue it would also stir up the right but since they are already planning to turn out what difference does it make if you also give them a marijuana referendum to turn out over?

Just my $.02.

DCM in FL said...

ELI

I think they have caved on the hard-line opposition to pot as a wedge issue...

FOX profited mightily on That '70's Show which of course was all about the pleasures of pot [I mean they had to know it, yes ?]

and legalizing it is now seen as a winning issue - even in ME [or at least not ciminalizing it for medical use]

so they will turn their attention to other evils like liberal media elites at NPR & PBS [but they luv them some FOX]

James said...

This is below silly, even though you are correct that Rove et al got it wrong.

First, it is not always the case that the loser in a race (or the winner) has lost support among the independents. If it were, America would be in better shape. It is often the case that the loser has done pretty well among independents but failed to bring out their faithful/base etc. The two one term presidents in the past 30 years lost because their bases (liberals, ironically enough, with Carter and conservatives with Bush) abandoned them.

Second, in both NJ and VA, the Dem base did not show up on election day. In VA, more voters said they had voted for McCain than said they had voted for Obama. The question was not asked in NJ, but I suspect it would have been slightly similar (Obama prob still win but much closer) That is extraordinary. First off, with few exceptions, in those questions, people often incorrectly recall that they voted for the winner. The only exceptions are cases like Richard Nixon and Bush towards hte end of the second term, when people remembered that they had voted for their opponents. Obama is not in that position, so it is clear that this demonstrates how different the electorate was.

That is very important. IF the Obama electorate does not show up if Obama is not on the ballot, then the Dems will have a very hard time in 2010.

Moreover, naive political analysts often sloppily talk about swing voters. There are few people who actually vote one way in one election and the other in another election (even thought they say 'I vote the person not the party') More often some stay home and others go out and vote

Persuter said...

All I know is USSR somehow survived the death of 10M young men in WWII but somehow libs tell me that in the 80's it really got bad and the system crumbled.

:rolleyes: How does this even support your point? So Hitler's armies, no problem, but a stern look from Ronnie and they fold?

Anyway, it wasn't ultimately about their economic problems, although they had plenty of those, what with the catastrophic drop in the price of oil and the unrelenting war in Afghanistan (any of these sound familiar?). Instituting perestroika and glasnost were what caused the USSR to fall - they could no longer oppress the people as they had been doing for seventy years.

DCM in FL said...

Interesting developments here in Central FL - a 'swing' area.

Just in the last few days, all of the TV shows 24/7 are being FLOODED with scare ads funded by BIG INSURANCE intentionally scaring seniors & other low-infos about the horrors of the Health Care Reform proposal [lose your Medicare, lose your insurance, lose your JOB fer crissakes, etc.]

They end with a plea to call Suzanne Kosmas & tell her to VOTE NO...

now Kosmas is my new DEM Rep FL-24 who we worked hard to get elected to replace the corrupt GOP Feeney - and she won by a comfortable margin but in a R+3 swingy sorta district [I mean, Feeney won here for years]

I emailed & called her offices myself today. The staff is on edge because apparently they are being bombarded by the scared people [the ad works] - BUT I do hope she will vote YES [their response is "she is still weighing thew issues" & I do understand why]

BUT Kosmas won easily 57-41, and the GOP tried to recruit Lou Holtz to run against her in 2010 - but he has declined

The interesting thing is that in the same TV media markets here [Orlando & Daytona Beach], the TV ads never mention new DEM Rep Alan Grayson in the adjacent FL-8 district.

WHY ??? Grayson barely beat GOP's Keller in 2008 52-48 [very close], and Grayson SHOULD have a huge target on his back...

this is the guy who has become a lib darling for his over-the-top push-backs on GOP health care ["they just want you to die quickly"]

so why no mention of Grayson in the same ads ???

could it be that Grayson has shown he will FIGHT BACK publicly ???

Kosmas is trying to publicly play the conservative Blue-Dog strategy to fend off challengers...

but she stands to lose me & her real base of support unless she does it right - and in the meantime, she has in effect invited this enormous media blitz directed at her personally care of Insurance & the GOP

stand and FIGHT, DEMs - it is a winning strategy [see Deeds '09]

just sayin'

Persuter said...

Whoa, I totally did not realize Grayson had taken Ric Keller's seat! That's awesome! I lived in Orlando until '07 - I was in Feeney's district but I still donated to Keller's opponents, I disliked him so much! :P

DCM in FL said...

Yeah,

Grayson beat Keller for several reasons. Obama got a great turnout in Orange County so his coattails helped alot.

Plus Grayson ran HARD at keller for breaking his term limit promises NOT to stay around for a 5th term

But Grayson also ran, not as a Blue Dog like previous candidates had in the 8th - instead he ran as a real progressive & virulent anti-war & anti-Bush candidate.

I wish he was my congressman here in Volusia County... he may be strident, but someone has to fight back !

plus he is a businessman, independently wealthy, a lawyer with real bonafides, and an economist to boot as well as a progressive jew from da Bronx

right now, if the election was today I think he would get re-elected - but the more conservative Kosmas would probably lose since she is failing to distinguish herself & is seem as an 'accomodator' [ie GOP-lite].

Mr. Universe said...

Matt said,

Two more instances of right-wingers' use of "Tea Bag" to describe their movement:
TeaBag 1

I especially loved the banner ad from a tea company with the 'Discover the Silken Tea Pouch' logo. :-D

cbcactuary said...

Nice Uni. Well shoot, I heard some black guy call another a nigger, so in spite of me knowing its offensive, I am free to go on using that term. Nice warped liberal logic. Stay classy libs. Its no wonder Grayson is your new hero.

RichA said...

Here's my theory: Since independents do not affiliate with one party or another, it is likely they are non-ideological and will vote for the candidate who runs a practical, non ideological campaing and is the most appealing (physically appealing, as well as the candidate with the more positive message).

If you look at Virginia, O'Donnell was more attractive and his campaign was very practical and positive--just what the independents want. He won big.

In New Jersey, neither candidate is physically attractive and both ran negative campaigns, but Corzine had the bigger negatives and Christie ran a non-ideological, fairly practical campaign. Christie wins in a close race.

In New York, Hoffman is not physically attractive and he ran an ultra-ideological campaign. The Democrats gained control of this seat for the first time in many years because Owens was more attractive and less ideological (he's a moderate).

Lehman said...

As an aside, I just got out of the navy after 5 years active duty.

And leaving Iraq or Afghanistan before they are able to maintain peace on their own, thereby leaving them at the mercy of the murderers and thugs, would be leaving with "our tails between our legs" as it would be an accepted point of view that we just didn't have it in us to finish the job.

And as long as Obama flushes good money after bad (stimulus) and imposes new regulations and costs on business(cap and trade) and individuals (mandatory health insurance purchases) all the while spending tax money on car discounts and house discounts (cash for clunkers and the fist time hombuyers credit) by deficit spending, thereby increasing the debt/gdp ratio and increasing the chance of major inflation, I will stand by my statement that having his hands on the purse strings of this nation is dangerous folly and is tantamount to flushing our nation down the toilet.

Bash Bush all you want, but Obama's in charge and has not made things better (yes yes 9 months and allthat). I hope does. But given the direction of his policies so far, I don't see how.

Dwight said...

And leaving Iraq or Afghanistan before they are able to maintain peace on their own, thereby leaving them at the mercy of the murderers and thugs, would be leaving with "our tails between our legs" as it would be an accepted point of view that we just didn't have it in us to finish the job.

For Iraq that would be appropriate. Though at some point they are going to need to get their crap together. They have a relatively recent history of some semblance of the infrastructure, education, and resource wealth that gives them a fighting chance at something resembling a modern, stable democraticish government. Beyond an out and out imperialism, and maybe a little Bush family retribution, that's really the only reason that makes sense to be there. Al qaeda links and WMD were knowingly fabricated excuses.

For Afganistan though that really never was the prime job. In spite of some rhetoric that was [irresponsibilied] used at times. Neutering the al qaeda threat was the reason. Yes, something stable would be good. But to expect it to not be at least somewhat thuggish, by our standards, when standing on it's own is not. :/

Right now it's been a stalemate in that the core of al qaeda has been localized and largely contained. The next step is a purging of it's influence and a reintegration of a legitimate, tamer Taliban (sans al qaeda) as one of multiple factions (rather than the overwhelmingly dominating faction) governing Afganistan in a loose tribal Republic.

Measuring the military by a clear, reasonably attainable goal is the only way to be fair to them. Otherwise you are setting them up to look like failures [like the last WH was doing when it talked about state building].

Carmen said...

What's fairly interesting about this is that all of the pundits are so DC-centric, they aren't paying attention to what's happening in the rest of the country. Here in WA state there was a tax-reducing measure on the ballot that would have saved taxpayers money, but would have horribly crippled the state. It was introduced by a man whose measures almost always get approved--- because voters traditionally have been worried about their own pockets instead of how a reduction in taxes will affect the state. This time-- in the middle of record unemployment and a deep recession--- his measure was rejected soundly (only the second time out of dozens that one of his measures hasn't passed). That doesn't sound like "independent voters are wary of Obama's far-reaching proposals and mounting spending" like the WA Post concludes. In fact, it sounds like the tea party--- which claims to have overwhelming support from Americans--- is having the opposite effect here.

If they really want to talk about the way Americans are feeling, the pundits need to get outside the beltway and concentrate on other races besides the one in VA.