OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Thursday, March 02, 2006 :::

Some Surprises in the Battleground Poll

A reader sends the latest copy of the Battleground 2006 poll my way. There are a number of interesting nuggets, including some that turn conventional wisdom on its head:

The bottom line is that the mood of the electorate is not an anti-incumbent mood, an anti-Democratic or anti-Republican mood, but an anti-Washington mood. When asked if voters wanted a member of Congress to possess "strength of values and convictions," or "willingness to find practical, workable solutions" to the country's problems, voters wanted to see practical, workable solutions by a twenty-point margin (58% to 38%). That is not, however, what the American electorate feels they are getting from Washington. When these same voters were asked if they felt lawmakers in Washington "put you first," or "put partisan politics first," only four percent (4%) felt that lawmakers put them first, and a whopping ninety-two percent (92%) felt lawmakers put partisan politics first. In other words, Washington is broken and needs to be fixed.

People will usually tell pollsters they want congressbeings to get along and solve problems. But in actuality, conflicting interests among lawmakers and their constituents make that almost impossible. By design. Hence, frustration:

The data in the most recent George Washington University Battleground Poll strongly suggests that Washington (both Democrats and Republicans) has lost the trust of broad segments of the American people. There are several national problems that need the immediate attention of our leaders, (such as national defense and terrorism, the Iraqi war, growing the economy, health care, energy costs, and immigration to name a few). But in the upcoming months, both sides of the political aisle may be well served by putting congressional/lobby reform on the front burner, and first getting their own house in order, in a bid to regain some of that public trust.

I don't exactly buy that conclusion. Reformist candidates are not exactly the most successful candidates, largely because they are challengers and that places them at an inherent disadvantage against an incumbent. Will there be some sort of movement in Congress to clean up after their ethical lapses? Sure. But they will most likely be of the sort that matter very little in comparison to larger issues like the economy or national defense.

There are a number of interesting items regarding the President's approval numbers, as well.

Whether voters approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as President, they were asked what their impression was of him as a person. Sixty percent (60%) of voters approve of President Bush personally, while thirty-three percent (33%) disapprove of him. There is also positive intensity to voters' response to this question. Forty-two percent (42%) of voters "strongly" approve of the president personally, while only twenty-five percent (25%) "strongly" disapprove of the President on a personal level.

Which would seem to make Bush the anti-Clinton, in more ways than one.

And what about Congress? Might is change hands?

The data would suggest that under the current political environment it is possible, but does not yet lead one to believe that it is probable. Republicans should not take solace in the fact that the overall numbers have not changed and voters view Democratic leaders as negatively as Republican leaders. If the political environment does not change, the outcome of the 2006 elections becomes increasingly a roll of the dice -- dependent on how the campaigns are run, party and interest group resources, and intensity of base voters to turn out to vote.

Maybe yes, maybe no. I suspect it won't, but I would shed no tears if the GOP were to be sent into the minority for a stretch to rediscover their principles.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/02/2006 1 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

"The graveyards are full of indespensable men" -- Charles de Gaulle

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