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Progressives and centrists battle over meaning of indy vote

By Greg Sargent

As the intraparty Dem war over the meaning of the midterms continues, centrist Democrats have been making the case that the big swing of independents for Republicans proves Dems need to move to the middle to recapture this key demographic.

Now a leading liberal group is set to push back on that argument with a counter-intuitive case of its own: Independents are not a monolith, and what really happened is that indys who backed Obama in 2008 stayed home, because they were unsatisfied with Obama's half-baked reform agenda, while McCain-supporting indys turned out in big numbers.

The group is set to release new polling from the respected Dem firm Public Policy Polling that is meant to buttress this case. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee commissioned the poll and sent some results my way.

The key finding: PPP asked independents who did vote in 2010 who they had supported in 2008. The results: Fifty one percent of independents who voted this time supported McCain last time, versus only 42 percent who backed Obama last time. In 2008, Obama won indies by eight percent.

That means the complexion of indies who turned out this time is far different from last time around, argues Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. His case: Dem-leaning indys stayed home this time while GOP-leaning ones came out -- proof, he insists, that the Dems' primary problem is they failed to inspire indys who are inclined to support them.

"The dumbest thing Democrats could do right now is listen to those like Third Way who urge Democrats to repeat their mistake by caving to Republicans and corporations instead of fighting boldly for popular progressive reforms and reminding Americans why they were inspired in 2008," Green says.

The problem is that we don't know why the Dem-leaning indys stayed home. Centrists will likely push back on this by insisting that they may have not turned out because Obama overreached, was too partisan, and failed to change the tone in Washington.

But the point about indys not being a monolith is a good one to keep in mind. Also: This debate is not merely an academic one; it's about where Dems go from here. Both sides are marshalling data in order to get Dem leaders and elected officials to interpret the results their way, and proceed according to their preferred roadmap.

By Greg Sargent  | November 4, 2010; 4:07 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, House Dems, House GOPers, Independents, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans  
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Comments

The country as whole knows what the election means.

No amount of liberal spin is going to mean anything.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm a dem leaning indie and I voted straight ticket repub except for Cahill. I couldn't pull the triger for Baker. Make of that what you will, but HCR was my reason for doing it.

Posted by: obrier2 | November 4, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Too bad that Obama is already caving in.

BTW: lots of us who have been registered Independents for a long time officially switched to REPUBLICAN for this election. Don't forget to account for that percentage too.

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

This makes intuitive sense since we know that there was a big fall-off in voting by young people and several non-white groups, leading to an electorate that, as compared to 2008, was much whiter and more conservative. I'm sure there were multiple reasons for this, the most important being that 2008 was a Presidential year, which always gets more attention and voters, and Obama was unique.

He has to capture that spirit again if he hopes to win. He has to be strong and forceful and not let the GOP crazies push him around. In 2 years there will be nmore young people coming into the electorate and more older people going out. But the inspiration has tpo be there, and professorial doesn't cut it.

If I were giving advice, I'd make 2012 an election about the future, primarily climate change and the need to capitalize on our entrepreneurship, ingenuity and sense of sacrifice to avoid a real coming disaster. Hopefully that would get more young people interested. It will also lay the groundwork for 2016 when we will probably be facing an ice-free North Pole in the summer.

Posted by: Mimikatz | November 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Jake, that's an interesting case, but I think PCCC's primary goal here is to move the discussion to one about who DIDN'T come out and why.

And thanks obrier2, we welcome voters sharing their personal insights and motives around here.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that we don't know why the Dem-leaning indys stayed home.


UMMM, the reason is they don't like Obama's health care plan.

They also don't like the fact that Obama ignoring the Economic Crisis for two years

They also don't like how Obama's 2008 campaign pledges turned out to be a bunch of frauds and deceptions.

They also don't like Obama's cap and trade idea to raise elctricity rates.

They also don't like Obama's attitude.

They also don't like Obama's Trillion dollar deficit.

They also don't like the Obama tactics of leveling False Charges of Racism.


It really is not difficult. They don't want the liberal agenda. They really don't like Amnesty for illegal aliens or the gay agenda either.


How hard is that to understand ???

.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, obrier2. My wife and I voted GOP to stop ObamaCare as well.

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"indys who backed Obama in 2008 stayed home, because they were unsatisfied with Obama's half-baked reform agenda"

Yeah? Navel-gazing onanists convinced by Darth Nader the world revolves around them. Naderites and Deanie-baby irresponsible jerks that have no sense of social responsibility, and, the thing is, they are so proud of their behavior they act progressiver-than-thou.

Posted by: aprilglaspie | November 4, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I am an independent. I am liberal and have left the Democratic Party because they are so wishy washy and capitulate to the right wing.

They refuse to consider ideas from liberals, they bash liberals constantly and do not respect us.

Independents are not monolithic.

Posted by: ANDYO1 | November 4, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Greg,

Isn't it also possible that independents who are disenchanted with Obama are now saying they voted for McCain? In other words, another (partial) explanation for the poll results might be that some independents who voted for Obama in 2008 don't want to admit it.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I actually split my ticket this year. Mostly out of pity though for people I knew.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Its so funny seeing liberals trying to pretend that they know what moderates and centrists think.

Of course a lot of left leaning indies didn't vote this year... Obama and the dems didn't do what we wanted. I should know, I was one of them.

All you need to do is look at where the polls went each time Obama & co debated and/or passed a bill that wasn't popular with us. The other stuff is minor in comparison... actions speak louder than words.

The best PR in the history of mankind can't save them. If they want our votes, they need to start passing legislation we actually like. They can't please us AND the left wing of their party at the same time... we're a voting bloc just like any other... listen to us and we'll support you... don't and we wont.

Rise of the Center
Vanguard of the Rising Moderate and Centrist Independent Opposition

Posted by: RiseoftheCenter | November 4, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

ANDYO1:

Did you vote straight GOP ticket too?

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Two words:

ELECTION REFORM.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 4, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to go out on a limb and say many Dem leaning Indys stayed home because they usually stay home for midterm elections. As opposed to Rep leaning Indys, who tend to be older.

Old people vote in midterm elections, young people don't. This is NOT an absolute, but it is a good general rule to keep in mind when analyzing polls like this one.

Posted by: nisleib | November 4, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"The problem is that we don't know why the Dem-leaning indys stayed home."

Allow me to offer what I have been saying since Centerfold Brown took Ted Kennedy's seat. The Dem-leaning Indys stayed home because they were appalled by the political ineptitude of the Dems. By definition, Indys aren't into intra-party squabbles but that is the main reason offered for the Dems incompetence: We couldn't do because the Blue Dogs wouldn't let us. Dem partisans may but that excuse but Indys almost certainly reject it. All the Indys knew was that the Democratic Party was in complete control and they couldn't govern competently. So why would Indys vote for Dems again?

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Katrina Van Heuvel layed out the whole idea - again. Put together a platform which will deceive enough centrists into voting democratic - and then push through a hard-left program.

The problem is now the country is onto that FRAUD.

The idea that centrists are a bunch of people who should be fooled into voting for someone who wants policies with which the centrists do not agree - is completely ridiculous.

The governing has to be done WITH the centrists - and with policies which the centrists agree with.


Greg and All - do you really realize what is going on here?


Glen Beck is going on tv every day - with massively high ratings - telling the nation that Obama's deceptions and lies from the 2008 campaign are ACTUALLY only a part of a wider plot to turn the nation even further left.

Glen Beck is putting the idea out there that the left will stop at nothing to push their agenda through -


The thing is Glen Beck is telling the nation that Obama's real agenda is nothing less than complete economic upheaval of the economy. He is telling people that the left in this country is willing to abandon democratic principles - and risk economic disaster in order to get the nation to turn to them for help.

______________________________


What is Obama's response to that?

Obama's people hold votes on holidays or in the middle of the night.

Obama's people dump 2,000 page bills on the internet 72 hours befor a vote. Is that even enough time to read 2,000 pages, much less review it???

Obama's people talk about getting rid of the filibuster -

they pass a major social program in a reconciliation process.

Obama wants cap and trade


In short, Obama acts in a way that CONFIRMS what Glen Beck is saying

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Some reality from Benen...

"no one has the foggiest what the political landscape will look like in two years.

At this point in Bush's first term, the frontrunners for the Democratic '04 nomination were Tom Daschle and Joe Lieberman.

At this point in Clinton's first term, a third of Democratic voters didn't want him to run for re-election.

At this point in Reagan's first term, a Gallup poll showed Reagan trailing then-Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) by 15 points, and behind Walter Mondale by 12 points. Immediately after the 1982 midterms, another poll showed 56% of the country did not want Reagan to seek a second term."
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_11/026476.php

Posted by: bernielatham | November 4, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I've been arguing for a long time that someone needs to look at the independent vote, because it's not as simplistic as it's being presented. Most "independents" lean toward a political party, and it's not impossible to have skewed samples of "independents" that have a Republican default, and are not fully representative of the diversity of thought among the Independent position.

That said, before all the handwringing gets too intense and sharpened knives inflict irreparable intra-party harm, I want to throw something else out that I don't think has been given serious consideration, but should...

It's assumed that people aren't voting because they are "displeased" with Obama. But, according to the polling data, nonvoters APPROVE* of the way things are going.

It may simply be that these nonvoters are content with the job Obama is doing, while simultaneously believing that Congress has no direct impact on their lives. The coupling of those positions may incline them to sit out midterm elections. Additionally, most Americans are familiar with basic government; they know that the President can veto a bill. So, they may believe that with "their guy" in the White House, Congress really can't do too much damage anyway.

By the way, I don't think this phenomenon is unique to Obama. I think it, at least partially, explains why presidents tend to lose seats in the midterms.

Oh, and many of these midterm nonvoters -- about 30-35% or so of the the voting population that produces a more moderate to liberal, younger, more diverse electorate -- will show up in 2012, just because it's a presidential election.

Certainly, they shouldn't be taken for granted, and more needs to be done. But, people really need to take a deep breath. Things just aren't as dire as Democrats may be inclined to believe, nor are as they as hopeful for Republicans as some of them are inclined to believe.

*http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1786/who-are-nonvoters-less-republican-educated-younger

Posted by: associate20 | November 4, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

associate20 | November 4, 2010 4:43 PM

Exactly!

Posted by: nisleib | November 4, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Via Baloon Juice comes this nugget of wisdom from a "man on the street"

*******

If we'd gone to an actual party, then we would've missed a special lesson from a Patty Murray supporter named Buddy Foley, 65, a pianist and handler-wrangler who won't say what he handles or wrangles (besides the Stella Artois in his hand).

"Let me tell you how America works," says Foley, who wears a plaid shirt, a mallard-print tie and a woodpecker feather in his fedora. "You have Democrats voting for Democrats and Republicans voting for Republicans and then you have these people down the middle who are -- " he lowers his voice " -- undereducated, and are trying to make a living and do the best for their children, but they're so busy that they realize two weeks before an election that, 'Gee, I better start watching TV to get some news,' and by then the richest [expletives] in America have shoved their [expletiving] money into attack ads and that's what this middle group of people sees, and they vote accordingly and they're the ones who steer the country."

Posted by: nisleib | November 4, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The democratic leaning Indys stayed home because of the False Charges of Racism.


The logical fallacy here is that just because an Independent is "dem-leaning" that doesn't mean they support Obama's version of health care reform.

Everyone in the country who KNEW ANYTHING told Obama and the democrats to "back off" after the Scott Brown victory - even the Republicans who couldn't bear to see it because it was so ugly.


The ARROGANCE of Obama - you don't think that is a factor??

The way Nancy Pelosi and the democrats locked arms and purposely walked through the crowdon Capitol Hill - Nancy with a big gavel in her hands - you don't think that REPULSED THE NATION?


The way the democrats tried to turn health care into a civil rights issue? It's NOT civil rights.

The way the democrats try to turn the gay agenda into a civil rights issue? It's NOT civil rights.


Everyone keeps on telling the democrats - the more they drag it on, the more the democrats convince people they are not fit to govern.


Obama would have been wise NOT to meet the press in the same room as Clinton did after the 94 disaster. The video clips, side by side, were not kind to Obama.

Clinton said that he would work with the Republicans, and the nation said "aww, shucks, bill"


Obama got up there, said "IF the Republicans have any ideas, I'll think about them and throw them in"


And the nation said "We have to get rid of you, dude."


.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Ethan--by election reform do you mean campaign finance reform? If you do, I agree. Because I contributed a small amount of money and did some gotv'ing for my congressman, John Hall (NY 19), I got a thank-you email yesterday. Here's a part of it:

"There is no doubt that the Citizens United decision will make it harder for any candidate to run, or survive in office, talking about campaign finance reform. Yet that is in my opinion the central problem we need to solve in order to see progress on any number of other issues like climate change, economic justice, and budget priorities."

Hall lost, unfortunately, although I'm not sure it was because he was outspent. When we moved here, it was pretty strongly Republican, but I thought it was at least turning purple. After all, it did elect Hall twice and went (barely) for Obama. I can't help hoping that Nan Hayworth, who defeated him, makes a total mess of it :)

Posted by: carolanne528 | November 4, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"The democratic leaning Indys stayed home because of the False Charges of Racism."

Yeah I'm sure that's it.

STRF, performance art is more than just throwing a pot of spaghetti at a wall and seeing how much of it sticks.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 4, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""no one has the foggiest what the political landscape will look like in two years."

Benen is right! (Blind squirrel)

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 4, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca

People are repulsed by watching the Obama people try to intimidate people with false charges of racism.

It is designed to get people to be reluctant to voice Freedom of Speech.


People are watching the conduct of the democrats - and to be honest, this mess Obama just created is going to last a generation.


.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

To Polar and Jake, please enlighten us to your view of HCR?

Posted by: tjproferes | November 4, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I think the POTUS and the Dems should honor the GOP mandate....to exactly the same extent that the GOP honored the mandate of 2008, and not a bit more.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 4, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: "PPP asked independents who did vote in 2010 who they had supported in 2008."

This type of backwards-looking question is notoriously inaccurate.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

OT - Pawlenty admits that Republicans are lying to you:

PAWLENTY: If you look at a pie chart of federal outlays, discretionary spending being the red, non-discretionary being the blue. The blue is already over the over the half way mark and it’s growing in double digits. Anybody who comes in here and tells you they’re not going to cut anything other than waste fraud and abuse, they’re not going to touch entitlements — they’re lying to you. If you want to deal with the spending issue, in terms of total federal outlays, you got to deal with interest on the national debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — if you have the time I can walk you through my ideas. But that’s the truth, you got to do entitlement reform, particularly if you’re going to hold defense harmless.

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/11/04/pawlenty-lying-spending/

Posted by: nisleib | November 4, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Bernie

Reagan had skills far beyond what Obama had.

Reagan also had Tip O'Neill - which may seem ironic. However, the nation had a sense from the begining that Reagan's policies would be moderated by Tip O'Neill and the House democrats. Compromise and negotiations were constructive and practical from day one.


With Obama, there is a sense that the democrats are going to ram through their agenda with no "checks and balances"

The country will not TRUST the democrats with one-party government - ever again. That is sure for a generation.

NO democrat will be able to get elected President without a Republican Congress for the rest of your lives

No one trusts you guys

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The first FEC filings covering the total amount spent are not even due until November 31, 2010. The current estimate, however, is OVER $4 BILLION (with more than $2 BILLION of that by Dems and Dems-affiliated outside groups):

http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/daily.php

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

What was extremely stupid about what Obama did this year was the re-districting issue.

I have no idea why Nancy Pelosi agreed to go along with health care - she should have stopped Obama and refused to push his agenda through the House.

The re-districting is going to yield a additional 25-33 seats for the Republicans - so the health care vote last spring cost the liberals 25-33 seats in Congress for the next 10 years.


That is true.

So, let's just say the House is at equilibrim right now - back to 2004 levels. That means that the House Republicans have a 25 seat majority NOW (243 - compared to 218 needed for a majority)

Obama did that

However with redistricting - that 25 will be translated into additional losses adding up to 50-58 seats in the House.


If you add in the redistricting costs resulting from Obama's health care arrogance, then the Republicans are really 50-58 seats ahead.


Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

This type of backwards-looking question is notoriously inaccurate.

Posted by: sbj3
++++++++++

I agree. It is one thing to ask people how they intend to vote, or how they just voted (exit poll). But asking people, especially independents, how they voted four years ago assumes that they are going to tell the truth, even if they now regret that vote.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

tjproferes:

I want HCR repealed in its entirety. What more enlightenment of my view do you want?

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The first FEC filings covering the total amount spent are not even due until November 31, 2010.

Posted by: JakeD2
++++++++++++

Hmmm, I know we turn our clocks back on Sunday -- giving us an extra hour. But now we are also getting an extra day!

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

OT: All,

The Troll Hunter is in it's final iteration. There are no longer any default Trolls, and there's no longer any editing of the source code. You also have to accept having the commenter name at the top of the message rather than below, because . . .

It's now an Ignore Button.

Just install the script and go. Nobody is ignored by default, and you pick who you want to ignore, and bring 'em back (all of em, actually) any time you want to by hitting the "Clear Troll List" button at the bottom. That's not 100% perfect yet (kind of have to refresh or hit the button twice).

The Ignore button is the ideal solution, if you ask me.

Somebody try it out and let me know what you think.

http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/89140

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

tjproferes at 5:04 PM

ON health care, I believe there were options available which are far less expensive.

One is to focus in on regulation of the health insurance companies as if they were untilities - and curb the abuses.


The massive trillion-dollar program is insane. The subsidies - the incentives to put people into a subsidy program is horrible.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

An interesting analysis by Sean Trende:

"This suggests that, much as 2008 was the year that Democratic-leaning districts determined that they could no longer afford to send Republicans to Congress, no matter how moderate, 2010 is the year that the Republican-leaning districts made the inverse decision. It didn't matter whether the challenger had experience, or if he raised a lot of money.

"... This doesn't mean that this election was all about the economy... the Democrats' losses were about 20 to 40 seats in excess of what we would expect from the effects of the economy and back-to-back wave elections.

"... It suggests that voters in swing- and Republican-leaning districts decided that they disliked the Democrats so much that it didn't matter whether a candidate supported the President's health care bill or the stimulus. They voted against them anyway."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/04/an_anti-democratic_year_107845.html

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Kevin!

:o)

Thanks.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

kevin: "The Ignore button is the ideal solution, if you ask me."

This is perfect. I like it. It works well. Thanks again!!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 4, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

This type of backwards-looking question is notoriously inaccurate.

Posted by: sbj3
++++++++++

I agree. It is one thing to ask people how they intend to vote, or how they just voted (exit poll). But asking people, especially independents, how they voted four years ago assumes that they are going to tell the truth, even if they now regret that vote.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I am really curious about that proposition because it seems counterintuitive. I mean, who you voted for -- past tense -- is an historical fact, while you are intend to vote for is subject to change so there should be some degree of unreliability built in to prospective-oriented polls. After all, people do change their minds. Yet you are saying that there is more error in polls of retrospective behavior? You may be correct but it seems doubtful to me offhand.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I also added a number after the "Posted By: User". That represents the number of posts that user has in the thread. I like counting.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

nislieb & bernie-

Thanks.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

You totally rock!!!!!! I think Greg owes you something for this, a lava lamp maybe?

If ruk ever comes back even he could handle this, LOL.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, it works perfectly on Chrome.

Are you a Marine, just wondering?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

carolanne528,

I hear you, I supported Hall too (I'm from NY-19 originally). It was previously GOP before Hall, so it's not a huge surprise, but sad nonetheless.

I'm definitely for campaign finance reform... but I think we need to go further than that. I'm talking: open primaries, debates that allow more than just the two main party candidates, instant-run-off voting, a standardized national ballot system, term limits, and more.

There are tons of ideas out there. Our system is broken. We need courageous politicians of both parties to fix the dmn system. Imho that's what Jon Stewart's rally should have been about. Maybe his next one should be about these issues.

Before the election I found a few articles at independentvoting.org to really capture America's frustration with the two-party system. I think there is a LOT to what they have to say and I endorse pretty much all of the tactics prescribed to limit the reach of the two gargantuan parties that control our destiny for better or worse. Here is another good article from a few days before the election:

http://www.independentvoting.org/GoodbyeTwo-PartySystem.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 4, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

wbg: "I am really curious about that proposition because it seems counterintuitive. I mean, who you voted for -- past tense -- is an historical fact, while you are intend to vote for is subject to change so there should be some degree of unreliability built in to prospective-oriented polls."

It may be counter-intuitive, but it's really not contrary to human nature. Someone who is embarrassed by a vote they made, may simply lie. Who's going to check?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 4, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin: Great job! Works like a charm!

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 4, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

kevin

Like you said, in Greasemonkey, the clear troll list worked the 2nd. time but not the first. Now I'm going back to ignore.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 4, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2: "Are you a Marine, just wondering?"

No, dude. I went to art school. ;)

I do salute all the men and women of all branches of our armed forces.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

A more hard-line, partisan, extreme Dem party would be more politically successful. Only "caving in" to the right wing tripped them up. Who could have possibly seen this advice coming?

People really do have to be insane to believe some of this tripe. But I do hope the party take it to heart. I don't think Obama can behave any differently than he has, to I am hopeful they will continue their self-destruction.

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 4, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"If ruk ever comes back even he could handle this, LOL."

No he wanted Greg do it, that was his point. He wanted to force Greg to do it. Doing a fix on your own is something that requires a few assumptions most of us take for granted.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

wbgonne writes
"Yet you are saying that there is more error in polls of retrospective behavior? You may be correct but it seems doubtful to me offhand."

The claim is that polls following elections tend to show higher support for the winning candidate and less for the losing candidate than the actual election results. sbj3 & bearclaw are implying the inverse: that Obama's popularity has ebbed since the 08 election & thus people are underreporting votes for him.

Personally I think the turnout argument has more merit - in 08 the Is who leaned Repub stayed home, while in 10 the Is who lean Dem stayed home. The interesting question is how those respondents answer the poll - do the GOP leaners merely claim they voted for McCain when they actually stayed home?

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 4, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Kevin--I get an error dialog box that says "window" is undefined.

I'm running IE. . . is it because I'm hopelessly behind the times and a slave to Microsoft that I'm getting this error??

Thanks!

Posted by: Michigoose | November 4, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@wb: This should provide some insight:

http://mydd.com/2007/4/19/social-pressure-and-inaccurate-polling

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"Someone who is embarrassed by a vote they made, may simply lie. Who's going to check?"

Well, I agree that a certain number of people may lie about what they've done but some people also lie about what they intend to do (for nearly the same reasons). And in neither case cannot the statement be verified so there is no fear of detection. But for prospective behavior you have, in addition to the people who lie, people who honestly change their minds. In both cases -- whether due to lying or honest change -- the poll is skewed and, to that extent, inaccurate. But the distortion seems to me to be greater for prospective actions because the distortion comes from two sources. On the other hand, for retrospective behavior there is also the possibility of faulty memory, especially if the event was long ago.

I don't know why I find this so interesting but I do.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Greg

I don't know if you've been communicating with Kevin or not re his Troll Hunter script, but in case not, he may have just saved your blog for some of us. Hope you appreciate what he's done.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

As a left wing liberal, I wonder how much can really be gleaned from this election. This big a result certainly says something though.
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The problem is it says that the lying and disinformation campaign by the GOP and right-wing worked wonders. As posts on this article show, even independents seem to be misinformed about the basics of major legislation that has been passed in the last 2 years.
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HCR is something we desperately need. Its not about whether you need it right now, but where the HC system will be in 20 years when you do need it. Lots of people aren't looking down the road, just at right now.
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And the other thing that this election shows is that the Dems are patently horrible at actually talking about their accomplishments. The poll that showed 60 percent believe the economy is shrinking and that the Dems have raised their taxes just says people voted based on incorrect facts. Neither are true.
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Nobody wants to support someone who you don't trust to stick to their guns. If they don't stick up for themselves, why would they stick up for you? That in a nutshell is the problem the Dems face right now.

Posted by: rpixley220 | November 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "Like you said, in Greasemonkey, the clear troll list worked the 2nd. time but not the first. Now I'm going back to ignore."

For whatever reason, the javascript function to clear an array doesn't work, so I'm going to have to do something that loops through the list to clear it out, in addition to removing it from local storage. I will fix that.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Kevin:

Allow me to add my thanks for your contribution to the Plumline Community. I intend use it to ignore myself.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"It may be counter-intuitive, but it's really not contrary to human nature. Someone who is embarrassed by a vote they made, may simply lie. Who's going to check? "

People lie. A lot. About a lot of things, for many reasons, often ones you wouldn't think of. Sometimes for reasons they don't really understand or don't think about themselves. Often in private contexts where there seems to be be no reason. They lie to themselves probably more than anything. And people have an amazing capacity to forget their lies are lies. Surveys are very much subject to skewed results from dishonest responses. I have a relateive who routinely lies to political pollsters just to mess with them.


Posted by: quarterback1 | November 4, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

@Michigoose: I'm only testing Chrome and Firefox with Greasemonkey. Ironic, as I use Safari for most of my browsing. ;)

Yeah, I'm not going to support IE. But Chrome is great on Windows, and Firefox is pretty good. If you want to use The Troll Hunter, it's Chrome or Firefox + Greasemonkey. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know if you've been communicating with Kevin or not re his Troll Hunter script, but in case not, he may have just saved your blog for some of us. Hope you appreciate what he's done."


If only we could go back in time and apply it at the old Fix. Sigh.

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Posted by: bsimon1 | November 4, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@Michigoose: Are you trying it with Greasemonkey for Internet Explorer? Again, I'm not testing that, but, in theory, it could possible work.

http://www.gm4ie.com/

But I don't know if it supports the GM_setValue and GM_getValues (or HTML5 localstorage) that I use for the Ignore Button.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Kevin! For a Rightie you're pretty cool, you know! ;-)

Posted by: Michigoose | November 4, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Kevin - I know I'm late to this game but how does one get Greasemonkey?

I'm not a techie...

Posted by: nisleib | November 4, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

True Leftists, of which I am one, will continue to push for a more liberal agenda.

Centrist Democrats will continue to push for a more Centrist approach.

The Republicans, who are radical Conservative Rightists, have done the same thing when faced with the same problems, in past elections. Had they not done so, they would pushed a more Centrist agenda this time themselves, instead of Tea Party activism.

Democrats, however, will not purge each other, no matter if we do disagree with each other; Republicans, on the other hand, cast out their own people like Murkowski.

Posted by: samsara15 | November 4, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

@wb: Some good stuff here, too:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/newsevents/ca/ca.aspx?oItemId=332

"MORI's political polls frequently include a question asking respondents how they voted at the last general. However, although the responses are useful to us in a number of ways, we do not expect them to be an entirely accurate reflection of how the respondents did, in fact, vote. Consequently the responses of a representative sample will NOT normally match the actual result of the last election, and the fact that a sample's recalled vote differs from the election result is not evidence that the sample is unrepresentative.

"The phenomenon of inaccurate recall of past vote has been known in Britain for many years. It was noted in the Sixties that recall of Liberal vote tended to be lower than reality in polls between elections, and there has also been a general tendency for more respondents to claim to have voted than actually did so.

"... This phenomenon is not confined to Britain: in the USA, for example, where John F Kennedy won the Presidency by a tiny margin, the margin on recalled vote steadily increased during his term, and, after he was killed, some two-thirds recalled that they had voted for him.

"That the failure of the recalled vote on surveys to match the actual result is caused by inaccuracy of recall, rather than by unrepresentativeness of the samples, is relatively easy to demonstrate.... The unreliability of recall has also been demonstrated experimentally on a number of occasions using a panel survey, where the same respondents are questioned about their past vote on more than one occasion, and can be shown to have given inconsistent answers."

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Quarterback

A more hard-line partisan extreme democratic party would be a complete failure


The democrats see their role as first to take care of their special interests - the unions, and their other interest.

Every state in which the democrats have been in control has bloated union contracts which last long after the democrats get thrown out.

It is really simple

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

suekzoo, bsimon & sbj & qb:

Thanks for your thoughtful responses to my query. And on these most civil notes I bid you adieu.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

@Michigoose: "Thanks, Kevin! For a Rightie you're pretty cool, you know! ;-)"

You're more than welcome. I'm a big believer in being able to customize your experience. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Will a black hole form if STRF downloads the Trollhunter?

Posted by: bernielatham | November 4, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, for retrospective behavior there is also the possibility of faulty memory, especially if the event was long ago.

I don't know why I find this so interesting but I do.

Posted by: wbgonne
+++++++++++

I also find it interesting. You might look at the article sbj linked to. Bad memory isn't really a factor. Rather, it seems to me this could be similar to other "self-reporting" issues. Ask someone who is "heavy" much they weigh. Then put them on a scale. Most people understate their weight. It isn't because they don't know how much they weigh (if it were, understating and overstating would be equally common). Rather, it appears to be because people want to report what makes them look better, given a set of social expectations.

Dan Ariely has done studies of this: a control group takes a test, and hands it in to be scored. Another group takes the test, self-scores, tears up the test, and simply reports the result (i.e., no way to verify results). Guess which group consistently does better?

So, it seems completely plausible to me that one contributing factor (not by any means the sole explanation) is that some people who pulled the lever for Obama in 2008 now regret it, they voted for Republicans in 2010, and because there is not way to prove otherwise and they think it makes them look better, they report themselves as having voted for McCain in 2008.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, truer words. 37th is on this blog like a herd of turtles, but since...what Kevin did...[hey hand me a tissue I am going to go Boehner here]...*boo hoo* all my life, the last few years anyway) I've worked hard blogging on WaPo comments, night shifts, trolling every crappy blog I could find...*sniff*...but when I found The Plumb Line with Kevin's Troll Hunter, I decided to put my name in the hat....bwwhwaaa....

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The skewed results of "recall" polls are similar to the phenomenon of there being 10X the actual number of people who "saw" Bobby Thompson's or Carlton Fisk's home runs, or Len Barker's perfect game, or the Beatles at Shea stadium, etc. A lot less people probably voted for Nixon after he had resigned. I don't think there is much of a way to control for it, either, because each situation is different.

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748/

You should have the option to Add To Firefox.

Then go here:

http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/89140

And hit "Install"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 4, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

bsimon you have a point there

especially in 2008 when the Obama people were harassing people almost minute-by-minute

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"Will a black hole form if STRF downloads the Trollhunter? "

Now, I have to admit, that was funny.

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 4, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah.

Thanks for the update Kevin. This is even better than the original.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 4, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Shrink

You have little to say to anyone

You have to admit the Fix had a bunch of people who were completely out of control

Someone had to break through their garbage

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there is much of a way to control for it, either, because each situation is different.

Posted by: quarterback1
++++++++++

There are lots of controlled studies to demonstrate the phenomenon exists, but you are right -- in real world situations, it is extremely difficult to determine the degree of misreporting.

Another classic -- there must have been at least 15 million people at Woodstock.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 4, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/happy_hour_roundup_122.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 4, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, thanks for the link. I can't read it now, but I will later. Term limits--sorry, can't agree. We already have them. Real campaign finance reform would curtail the incumbent's advantage and level the playing field.

Kevin, thanks for your work, and how does it feel to be a hero? :)

Posted by: carolanne528 | November 4, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious, if anyone else wants to comment, whether other people have insights or perspectives on lying and the reasons therefore from their fields of work.

I've learned some things about how much and why people lie from practicing law, where, in litigation, you routinely encounter liars. It's commonplace to sit in a deposition room or other context where one person is flagrantly lying or even committing perjury, and pretty much everyone in the room knows it. You also encounter people who lie to you in interviews because they are covering up mistakes, or are embarassed, or just want money from someone, etc.

I've seen it from the CEO of a major company to an unemployed clerk. Sometimes it's obvious why they are lying: millions of dollars are at stake. But often it isn't so obvious. And often it's clear the person is lying but has ceased to believe he or she is or is somehow emotionally blocking it out.

One of the most common is a lie such as, "I would have never done X if anyone had told me Y!" We often know and can clearly prove this is a lie, but the liar just doesn't realize it yet. I've had the most seemingly honest and morally straight people tell that kind of lie under oath with great vehemence. And yet I have documented proof in my hand that it's a lie.

I'm just curious whether there are other fields of work where people have had their eyes opened about lies and lying. On TV, House famously says, "everyone lies."

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 4, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."
H. L. Mencken

More at http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/mencken.html

Posted by: LeftCoast5 | November 4, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"I'm curious, if anyone else wants to comment, whether other people have insights or perspectives on lying and the reasons therefore from their fields of work."

Well, this is one part of what I do, I figure out how to separate the liars from the crazy people.

♫ "You gotta keep'm separated!"
The Offspring

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Who changed the word "liberals" to "Progressives" in the headline?

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 4, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

qb: "I'm curious, if anyone else wants to comment, whether other people have insights or perspectives on lying and the reasons therefore from their fields of work."

I will...from the finance/accounting arena. It's not pretty.

I'll come back later and write more. Gotta go to work! :o)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 5, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I totally disagree with this article. I am an Independent and voted for Obama in the election. I wanted a change from the politics that have always been entrenched in Washington, however it seems this new brand of politics is just as bad if not worse. The amount of self-righteousness and total disregard to the people is inexcusable. The healthcare bill that was passed is a disgrace. There are a few good things within the bill but the amount of earmarks and spending that have been secretly added to it far out way the positives. I also am aware that as this current election was wrapping up the Federal Reserve started just printing millions of dollars. This sort of action greatly devalues the value of the American dollar. I can't see how a terrible and expensive health bill, unemployment, devaluing the American economy and searching for more things to spend on can possibly be good for our country. I am an artist, educated and work three jobs in California. I am not the usual GOP supporter however I voted mostly Republiban in this last election. There needs to be a balance and Democrats do not have a mandate to pass their agenda. The American people have spoken.

Posted by: Operagal1 | November 5, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

So the progressive wing's argument is basically that a central doesn't exist?

Posted by: cprferry | November 5, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

When you start out in the middle, as the Obama Administration did, the only place "more middle" to go is to the right.

If Obama does that, he faces certain political defeat in 2012 as well as the opprobrium of generations to come who will bear the burden of the poverty that the right-wing has in mind for average Americans.

How about standing by principles for once? Like, a square deal for every American? A chance to get ahead, if not rich? A share of the wealth that is accumulating quickly in some circles but not in the vast majority? Are those now radical concepts? The Democratic "center" is duplicitous.

Posted by: bluefire1 | November 10, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Why not a poll of discouraged and angry progressives who stayed home from the polls? There is no consideration of the massive amount of corporate dollars that bought this election. Mention by corporate media that 30% of voters are voting on corporate controlled, non-verifiable touch screen voting machines is negligible. Also, the right has on its side a major television news media with no integrity or regard for the truth that is using fear and sensationalism to sway voters to vote against their own interests. Studies show that those who rely on Fox news are the least informed amongst us. When millions of us turned out in D.C. to protest the war and thousands in New York, no one paid for our buses and there was little attention paid in corporate media. Fox news created the Tea Party and Big Money paid for its organization. When 87 thousand turned out for the Tea Party in D.C., the media declared a new grass root movement and couldn't stop talking about it. Even this article in the Washington Post glosses over the real reasons for the loss of Dem seats and the fact that few progressives lost their seats and the loss was mostly of Blue Dog and Centrist Dems. No mention of that. We are being lied to in the name of increasing the wealth and power of the power elite.

Posted by: bashia | November 11, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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