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Third Way Study Revisited

Last week, The Fix wrote up a new study by Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. The study examined the 2006 electorate and considered how voter turnout might explain durable trends that could stretch through 2008.

In that post we promised to solicit opinions from survey research experts as to the validity of the methodology used by Third Way to compare the 2006 electorate with that of 2004.

Here are thoughts from a few respected pollsters and poll watchers on the data. And a big thanks to post.com politics producer Sarah Lovenheim for conducting the interviews:

Fred Yang, Democratic pollster: "I think [the study's] useful. You never want to be captive to the last election, but that's all we have to go on. Past elections aren't indicative of the future, but a lot of these elections reflect trends that are helpful."

Glen Bolger, Republican pollster: "Trends are trends until they change, and everything changes -- it's only a question of when. If they did the analysis after 1982, I'm sure they would have concluded that Walter Mondale or Gary Hart would beat Ronald Reagan. Studying election results should be like a mutual fund warning -- past performances are not a predictor of future results."

University of Maryland Baltimore County Political Science Professor Tom Schaller: "Third Way compares the 2004 and 2006 electorates, a major no-no. They should have compared midterm electorates (e.g. using 2002 as the comparative baseline), because everyone knows that the 'drop-off' effect produces whiter and higher-status electorate during lower-turnout midterms."

Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 21, 2007; 2:56 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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"Our grandparents generation was very hesitant of debt, our parents somewhat, and we just love it."

The generation of our Grandparents are the ones that started this mess. Entitlement started with them, not me. Not that I really have anything against entitlement programs themselves, I'm just annoyed that people have no interest in helping their fellow man by paying higher taxes. Most European countries have much higher taxes (exception like Russia exist but where would you rather live?).

I don't think protectionism is going to help the National Debt, but I can guarantee that it'll hurt my personal debt. Rather, we need to find a happy medium between taxes and spending, taxes we can be comfortable with but enough that we help those who need it.

Posted by: JasonL | May 22, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

JD there is one problem with equating our "standard of living" with the past is that as a society we are doing this all on credit.
Our grandparents generation was very hesitant of debt, our parents somewhat, and we just love it. John Edwards talks alot about this and I agree that I think it is a serious issue.
Now I personally don't have a problem with globalization per se. I just have a problem with the way we are doing it. Free Trade is not good for anyone IMO, Fair trade can be.

Posted by: Andy R | May 22, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I hear you andy. prisons. Where people learn "what america really is." Learn the rules.

I know they're not taking me. Turn to a republican or go to jail. That's the repubs 2012 campaign

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the backup JasonL. It always amazes me how ignorant most of this blog is when it comes to basic economic principles.

When it comes to standards of living being raised because of globalization, it's funny how people forget that they have multiple TVs, cars, VCRs/DVDs, can travel more extensively, etc. than the 'working class' (and do I hate that term...) ever did before.

And we, as America, take so much for granted and have become so spoiled.

Posted by: JD | May 22, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party. Any questions?

Posted by: the moderator | May 22, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! Karl knows more about this room!

Posted by: George W. Bush | May 22, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room! AND MY NAME IS NOT 'FRED'!!

Posted by: Tommy Thompson | May 22, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! It is NOT 'Just For Men'! I have nicer hair than anyone else in the room! Yes, dear, even you.

Posted by: Mitt Romney | May 22, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! Nine-eleven, nine-eleven, nine-eleven! And nine-eleven!

Posted by: Rudy Giuliani | May 22, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone in the room!

Posted by: Ron Paul | May 22, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone in the room!

Posted by: Mike Huckabee | May 22, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone in the room!

Posted by: Duncan Hunter | May 22, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room

Posted by: Tom Tancredo | May 22, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room!

Posted by: Sam Brownback | May 22, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Dan W, you are correct that the Republican Party used to value fiscal prudence, individual autonomy, etc. Used to. Like it or not, the GOP of today cares more about kowtowing to big business at the EXPENSE of the consumer, restricting your individual liberties, and swaggering on the world stage.

By contrast, Schwarzenegger is a fiscal conservative who is taking a leadership position nationally on addressing the challenge of global warming. He's also OK with reproductive choice, and as a foreigner himself, he's not (as far as i know) on board with the nativist jingoist "Bushies."

Maybe he or someone like him will reclaim the GOP for common sense, but at the moment, he's not at all typical of Republican politics. (Witness the three GOP candidates who do not believe in evolution; witness also the hypocritical slobber over Falwell, a divisive and unashamedly regressive figure if ever there was one.)

I have never voted Republican, but I could (not necessarily "would," but "could") support a candidate with the sensible, modern social views of Ah-nold. I could never support a candidate for whom reflexive support of pro-wealthy policies and social conservatism were the main point(s).

Posted by: Bokonon | May 22, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Good List Andy.

'It is a mystery to me why Schwarzenegger is a Republican. He certainly does not belong in the party of W, Cheney, and Rove.' Or is it correct to say that W, Cheney, and Rove do not belong to the R party of Schwartzenegger?

When you you take a look at historic R values (small fiscally conservative gove) you will see that the Governator is an ideal R.

Posted by: Dan W | May 22, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"If, say, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had screamed, "F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," to a colleague, do you think the major dailies might have mentioned it?)"

Heck, I expect that Faux News and Drudge will take this as an inspiration to start reporting exactly that as 'news' without a factual basis. Faux News spent most of the morning reporting on John Edwards' speaking fees without once mentioning Guiliani's.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 22, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

thanks to the folks that responded to my question. One thing I notice is that none of the alleged front runners in the Pres race show up as party visionaries, except tangentially.

Andy R noted "basically I think it is Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, and the Gubernator who really shape where politics are going today." And Mark mentioned Giuliani and McCain as potentially taking the lead, but neither really serves this role now.

Is that a surprise to anyone? Presidents Reagan, Clinton & Bush 43 offered compelling visions for the country & their parties before entering office. Is it too much to expect that from the current crop of candidates?

Posted by: bsimon | May 22, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

That's ridiculous. Ask any economist (or JD apparently) and they'll tell you why your great standard of living can be directly attributed to inexpensive labor and materials.

Your computer? The router that gets you to the net to read The Fix? The clothes on your back?

Wake up. You can make twice as much money and pay three times as much for everything or accept that trade among countries is the best we can do. Unless you've invented a new technology that solves all our problems. Oh, you didn't? Nuts.

Posted by: JasonL | May 22, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Just as a side note, the biggest users of Prison labor is the United States of America. We also have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

Also the largest lobbying group in Washington isn't the NRA, it is now the Privatization of Prisons Lobby.

Posted by: Andy R | May 22, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

'um, no offense | , but are you even remotely familiar with the concept of comparative advantage? The most efficient (ie, cheapest price) work will flow to the company (or country) best positioned to do the work, therefore raising productivity and standards of living for all.'

more B school fantasy. all it does is bring all wages down to the absolutely lowest common denominator, so that countries who use slave and prison labor [like china] are reiniforced and rewarded. get over your ivory tower fantasies and realize that for most people in a country with a higher standard of lving, that this results in a net loss of jobs and lower lving standards for eveyrone in the middle and below.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

On Friday, during a back-room discussion on the new immigration-reform package, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) started shouting at Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who dared to disagree with him on the legislation. Apparently, McCain accused Cornyn of raising petty objections, and Cornyn accused McCain of having dropped in without taking part in the negotiations. "F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," McCain reportedly shouted. Paul Kane added that McCain also "used a curse word associated with chickens."

I noted over the weekend that McCain has made something of a habit of launching profanity-laced tirades against his colleagues -- especially his Republican colleagues -- which might explain why his presidential campaign hasn't exactly racked up endorsements from the Senate GOP caucus.

Today, McCain seems to have settled down a bit.

Tensions run high on immigration, and the bargain reached last week sparked intramural hostility between Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who had a bitter exchange during the last closed-door meeting before a deal was announced.

Cornyn, who opposes the agreement, said that McCain, a supporter, has apologized to him for launching a profanity-laced tirade at the Texan accusing him of holding up the deal.

Fine. It doesn't explain why McCain felt compelled to take such an abusive attitude in the first place, but he made the effort to apologize, which was clearly the right move.

(Just as an aside, of the nation's major dailies -- NYT, WaPo, LAT, USAT, WSJ, Boston Globe, NY Daily News, Chicago Trib -- only one published an item on the McCain incident. If, say, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had screamed, "F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," to a colleague, do you think the major dailies might have mentioned it?)

Of course, it's not just on the Hill. McCain can be nearly as unhinged on the campaign trail.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Mark - I would nominate John Edwards as the leader of the populist Democrats. Next to the religious right and the neo-cons, I like this group the least.

The "blue dogs" are a long tradition in the Democratic party - think Sam Nunn, Scoop Jackson (also a old New Dealer), Carl Vinson.

I would also say that the DLC crowd has a great deal in common with the small biz/social moderate Republicans. Both groups are interested in practical approaches to problem solving and eschew rigid ideologies. They are not reflexively anti-defense, anti-interventionist as the Democratic left nor are they as recklessly unilateral as the neo-cons. I identify with these groups more than any others.

I would generally put Bush I in the moderate Republican category except he tried to disguise it to appease the right wing. I think Bush I was the best manager of foreign policy we have had in a long time although he really did not fully grasp the implications of the post-Cold War world.

JD - MikeB is not exactly open to persuasion on the subjects of free trade and immigration.

Posted by: JimD in FL | May 22, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

um, no offense | , but are you even remotely familiar with the concept of comparative advantage? The most efficient (ie, cheapest price) work will flow to the company (or country) best positioned to do the work, therefore raising productivity and standards of living for all.

Now, this doesn't mean that some individuals suffer during change, even while the economy of the world as a whole improves. And it's the socialist way to focus on the individual's woes instead of look at the big picture (corporatists and free traders? Gee, sure you're not drindl in disguise?).

Anyway, that genie is out of the bottle. If you really want to see higher unemployment and a degradation of wages at the low end, go ahead and pass the amenesty/immigration bill.

Posted by: JD | May 22, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

'Free trade expands everyone's economy. Sure Joe Highschooleducated might lose his factory job but he gets a dozen tube socks for $3.99 at Wal-Mart'

yeah, coz that's a good trade off. that's the problem with the corporatists and free traders -- they're all elitists. they don't actually give a damn about what happens to the rest of us, as long as they get their nearly tax free capital gains. they are obscenely greedy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

'KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Profits from Afghanistan's thriving poppy fields are increasingly flowing to Taliban fighters, leading U.S. and NATO officials to conclude that the counterinsurgency mission must now include stepped-up anti-drug efforts.

This year's heroin-producing poppy crop will at least match last year's record haul and could exceed it by up to 20 percent, officials say, meaning more money to fuel the Taliban's violent insurgency.'

how long have we known about this? how many years? and still the bush administration has done the usual... nothing, nothing, nothing. if there's no profit in it, why do anything?

Posted by: duh | May 22, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Chris: you embarrassed yourself on last night's Hardball by not defending your fellow Post reporter Lois Romano from Chris Matthews' bullying when she pointed out his strange obsession with the Clinton's marriage? He seems to be obscenely infatuated with Bill Clinton. Are bookings on his show so important that you wouldn't even offer Lois any defense to her factual statement? Do you truly believe that non-Beltway residents are as fixated over the Clintons to the degree Washingtonians apparently are?

I think the Liberal Media is hell-bent on electing yet another Republican to the WH.

Posted by: frank | May 22, 2007 6:57 AM | Report abuse

It is a mystery to me why Schwarzenegger is a Republican. He certainly does not belong in the party of W, Cheney, and Rove.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Third Way just published a very interesting study on a new foreign/security strategy. While I do not agree with all of the recommendations, the think tank does put forth plenty of worthwhile proposals. More specifically, the recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group deserve the administration's and congress's attention. For more on this, see
http://www.reflectivepundit.com/reflectivepundit/2007/05/finally_a_chanc.html

Posted by: Brigitte N, | May 21, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

We have got to get rid of the bipartisanly fraudulent E-voting machines. Destroy all of them.
http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: will in fl | May 21, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: che | May 21, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Jason L. - "free trade expands everyone economy". Rubbish! The net effect of free trade to this country has been the export of more than 4 million high tech jobs, the loss of medical insurance for fully 25% of our semi-skilled manufacturing, decreased wages, and the loss of infrastructure and skills critical to our national survival. Free Trade is the biggest crock sold to the AMercian public since the war in Iraq. It's a disgrace and helps no one but the already wealthy and certain callose politcian's who trade OUR jobs and security as a part of the failed/failing foreign policies. No one with a brain, with any sense of morality, with an ounce of patriotism, supports "free trade".

Posted by: MikeB | May 21, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Populist sentiments are ok but they don't really exist because protectionism is a dinosaur. Free trade expands everyone's economy. Sure Joe Highschooleducated might lose his factory job but he gets a dozen tube socks for $3.99 at Wal-Mart. Populists are as dead as libertarians, don't think otherwise. The world's just too big for them.

Posted by: Jason L. | May 21, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I hear you mark in Austin.

So the Democrat 4 is not represented in american polictics today. Very sad. What are all the populists to do? Should we vote? We're not represtented in the government today. Very sad. I guess All Power to the people is an outdated principle. America government has moved on to the birtish empire modal. The republicans have done this to us. They have sold us out. The Red Scare of the fifties eliminated left wing politics out of fear. Dissagree and the right will fire you, they will throw you in jail. Why is that. Because if a REAL populist party emerges, the republicans AND democrats would have no business in american politics. this is why so few vote. WE are not representated.

Thank you mark for that

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

This centrist thinks he sees 4 Dem sub-categories and 5 Rep sub-categories.
Dems:
1. FDR big gov "liberals", for whom Ted Kennedy still speaks.
2. The DLC - id'd by Andy and whose titular head is Bill Clinton. They are pronounced internationalists and free traders.
3. The "blue dogs". They may be all over the lot on other issues, but they are strong for the military and vets. Sen. Webb could fill the vacancy in leadership left by Breaux.
4. The populists. Anti free trade protectionism binds them. I do not know who speaks most authoritatively for them.
Reps:
1. Big gov big biz free traders. John Connally was the first avowed member but now it is very strong in the party. I do not know who speaks most authoritatively for them. Giuliani might take this role?
2. Military Reps - like Blue Dog Dems, they are strong for the military and vets, first. Powell is the conscience, but McCain, Warner, and Graham are the leaders. Generally support civil liberties and believe in a nation of laws.
3. Neo-cons - a leadership cadre of mainly former Wilsonian liberals whose dream is the liberation of the world while the USA remains dominant. They are relatively new to the Rep [thus "neo" con] party and have confused it to the point that it cannot develop a coherent foreign policy in this Administration. Is Richard Perle the spokesman? Paul Wolfowitz? Pres. Bush?
4. Social Conservatives - god, gays, abortion - Huckabee could be their most compelling voice as he also believes that life does not end at birth and that stewardship of the planet is a Christian value.
5. Small gov small biz social moderates - Main Street Reps - Hagel; perhaps Schwarzenneger?
Can be anti free trade like populist Dems.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | May 21, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

AndyR: good points. Did you see the Gubernator's article today?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/20/AR2007052001059.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

I used to be totally against relaxing the "non-citizens cannot become President" rule. The breath-taking absence of logical, "good government-first" R's is making me rethink my objection. The current crop of R candidates makes McCain, of all people, look like a bible-burning atheist.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 21, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Bsimon,
Most of the idealogical leaders of each party are not in elected office right now.
For the Democrats you have two factions, the centrists led by Bill Clinton and the progressive populists that are led by Howard Dean.
The division between these two groups is the classic State's rights verse Federalist division. The Clintons and to a lesser extent Ted Kennedy are the architects of a system of a strong Federal government that is less about regulation and more about international trade and expansion of the nationalism of America.

The progressive populists which is headed by Dean is similar to the Carter way of thinking (Jeffersonian Democrats) that the States are the important part of the equation and the federal government should basically just make sure that all the States are on the same playing field. They are usually for a stricter trade agreements, a more subtle foreign policy, and hesitant of globalization.

The GOP is also divided along similar lines. Except in the case of the republicans it is the role of the Federal System in moral values that divides them. You have the Newt Gingrich group, that pushes this Moral high ground on the federal level. Let the states deal with Welfare, Medicare, Education, etc the federal government should be telling you what you should think.

The second GOP group, centrist republicans, is personified by Arnold Swargzenegar (sp?) and is very similar to the populist Democrats. They think that the Federal Government should deal with the Big problems, defense, homeland security, etc and forget about the moral crap. This is the true Reagan Republicans.

So basically I think it is Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, and the Gubernator who really shape where politics are going today.

Posted by: Andy R | May 21, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"CC gave us a good example of this logic a few days ago by suggesting that the country would turn against the D's because the Iraq war is still going on. This flies in the face of the fact that this is largely an R-prosecuted endeavor. "

It can't get any worse for the republicans, right? It's funny to me how the repubs are blaming the dems now. After the last 5 years of drum beating. I guess republicans only get the benifets never the blame

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to perception, "the anti-Congress sentiment" is largely an engineered controversy. The D takeover gives the R's someone new to blame. Add Faux News generated, totally artificial disgruntlement to the country's normal dislike of politicians and suddenly there's a 'crisis' of confidence with Congress.

CC gave us a good example of this logic a few days ago by suggesting that the country would turn against the D's because the Iraq war is still going on. This flies in the face of the fact that this is largely an R-prosecuted endeavor.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 21, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen a picture of Klaudt? He looks like a human Twinkie. Yeeeesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

fOLEY ANYONE ?

"(A)t least Mark Foley never physically acted on his nefarious impulses. Former South Dakota State Rep. Ted Klaudt did, however. On multiple occasions.

Klaudt had to exit the state legislature in 2006 due to term limits, after having a lost a battle for state senate in that same year-but he sure had a doozie of a time while he was there. I learned of this particular piece of distasteful debauchery from Howie Klein's fantastic post on the subject at his blog Down With Tyranny. As Klein says:

Like so many tightly wound repressed and mentally ill Republicans, Klaudt was preaching the moral superiority of the far right while he was abusing molesting children- his own foster daughters and 2 state legislative pages! He "faces a long list of charges: eight counts of rape, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of witness tampering, sexual contact with a person under 16, and stalking." emphasis added"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I think both the GOP and Dem pollsters said the same thing but emphasized different aspects of it. 2 years ago, those comments would have switched. Tom Schaller made a good point about the differences between midterm and presidential election turnout. The past election, in my view, is only indicative of the next if the issues remain the same-and I doubt Iraq will go off the radar screen. However, the public may also sour on the Dems' handling of Iraq. The anti-Bush sentiment will be less noticable, seeming how it is not a midterm election (and voters arent voting a referendum on him). Corruption charges could also possibly hurt both sides equally this time, with Dems in charge of capitol hill. I've noticed that the Dems are running against the President, whereas the GOP is running against Congress. The anti-Bush sentiment may be stronger than the anti-Congress sentiment, since it seems this Congress has never had high ratings, and may not have earned it. Bush earned his low ratings. This could create an opening for a bipartisan ticket, but the Unity '08 nominee needs to be charismatic, telegenic, and sane to REALLY shake things up. Money won't hurt either. I'm skeptical of Unity '08 producing a strong nominee, partly due to the fact that there are few charismatic mavericks and that some of these mavericks may be saying unpopular things to win their parties nomination at this time.

Posted by: J Perez | May 21, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Good comments by people who are in the business and have an objective stake in making accurate, or at least very careful, predictions regarding the future. A nice contrast from leaps of logic informed largely by rose-colored glasses.

Are those the only comments that they made? I'd be interested in reading the full interviews.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 21, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of a question I was going to ask about the GOP in the prior thread. Who are the political leaders of each party? I don't mean Howard Dean (for the Dems), I mean who's the real leader - the visionary who's directing the party in a particular direction? Typically its the President, for that party that has the White House, but given Bush's popularity - and the increasing distances from him which other Republicans are taking themselves - he's not the guy on that side. So who are they?

Posted by: bsimon | May 21, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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