Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rasmussen of the Day 3/21

Americans are waaaay down with putting more troops in Afghanistan.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rasmussen of the Day 3/20

This has some potential, but today there's nothing too interesting.

Almost all Americans think Obama will expand government, but they like him anyway.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The DNC Picks a Frontrunner for 2012?

Whether the DNC actually thinks Sanford is a threat, this ad will help boost his fiscal radical cred, as Chris Cillizza noted.

Rasmussen of the Day

I'm gonna start throwing some of the more interesting polls I get from Rasmussen everyday. I can't say that they have interesting polls everyday, nor that I'll actually put them up everyday, but this is an easy way to have new posts up here fairly regularly.

For today:

Americans are strongly divided on unions and on whether the federal government is doing enough for the economy.

And for all of the talk of a Republican Party in shambles, they're beating us in the generic congressional ballot for the first time in years. On Inauguration Day, we were up 42%-35%. In 2008, we won 53%-44%. In 2006, we won 54%-44%. In 2004, we lost 53%-44%.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jury Still Out

As you know, my forthcoming thesis is on whether a minority party in a legislative district ought to use the single-shot strategy when it knows it cannot win both House seats (the answer is yes). The next question is: once the minority party has a House seat, should it run that incumbent by themself or with a running-mate. I should note that the following analysis includes candidates elected by both strategies, I'm only focusing on how they run for reelection.

There are good reasons to suspect that my model (sorry, you have to wait for the thesis, I'm not going to explain it here) should not fit this case, most notably the obvious differences between running as an incumbent and running as a challenger. In short, my model says that if you run a single-shot: 1) you will unite all Democratic voters behind your one candidate (whereas with two some might only vote once and for the weaker one); 2) you will give intentional ticket-splitters only one Democratic option to unite behind (whereas they also may have voted instead for the weaker of two Democrats); 3) enough Republicans will only vote once that you can steal a seat. At the same time, I acknowledge that there may be Democratic-leaning voters that want to use both of their votes, and they will vote for on of the Republicans. The statistics simply show that the positive effects outweigh that one negative.

An incumbent shouldn't worry as much about #1 and #2, because as the better-known of the two Democrats, they should get the large majority of the votes from people who only vote for one Democrat. Thus, the positive effects of a single-shot might be neglible when the minority party has an incumbent, while the negative effect (Democratic voters voting for a Republican in order to use both votes), is still felt.

As it turns out, history provides ambivalent evidence. I went back as far as 1994 to find cases of minority party challengers winning House seats. I found 11 that went on to run for reelection. I didn't count Jack Brown's return to the House in 2004, because he jumped down from the Senate. Mark Thompson was excluded as well, because in his 2004 reelection campaign he was not the strongest candidate from his own party (Knaperek was).

That only leaves 9 incumbents who ran for reelection, and only two who ran for a third term. Both of those who ran without running-mates lost. Some of the 7 who ran for reelection with running-mates did win (3), but the majority did not (4). That is perhaps an indication that a running-mate helps, but there simply is not enough data for meaningful analysis. Only 9 data points hardly tells us anything. And perhaps it should only be 8. I included Meg Burton Cahill because when she first ran in 2000, LD27 was probably still a Republican district. By 2002 and especially 2004, it may not have been. Cahill and Jennifer Burns are the two incumbents who ran for a third term. Both ran with running-mates and both won, but this likely has more to do with 4 years of incumbency than with their running-mates.

UPDATE: I came up with a rough measure of party strength in each of these districts, averaging Senate and House results over a few elections. The method is not too important as I don't mean this to be definitive. But, the correlation between party strength and reelection is MUCH clearer than any correlation with running-mates.

The following chart shows the year of a candidates original election (and district), rough measure of the partisan breakdown of their district, and whether they won reelection or not. Camarot and Poelstra at the bottom are in italics because they are the only two than ran without running-mates. This may be a case of adverse selection. That is, potential running-mates would be far less likely to run in a district where they understand that their party is a small minority than in a more closely divided district.

2000 (27) Meg Burton Cahill (D) D 50%-50% Won
1996 (8) Gail Griffin (R) D 52%-48% Won
2002 (25) Jennifer Burns (R) D 53%-47% Won
2006 (10) Jackie Thrasher (D) R 54%-45% Lost
2004 (17) Laura Knaperek (R) D 55%-43% Lost
1994 (20) Robert Blendu (R) D 56%-41% Lost
1994 (25) Robert Updike (R) D 56%-39% Lost
2000 (1) Henry Camarot (D) R 60%-40% Lost
2000 (14) Ed Poelstra (R) No measure Lost

Next, I will work on that measure of party strength to provide estimates for our incumbents running for reelection in Republican districts. Remember this is JUST an ESTIMATE, but it is based on recent election results.

Members in Districts of Opposite Party

Jack Brown (D-5) R 43.9%-56.1%
Eric Meyer (D-11) R 42.4%-55.9%
Rae Waters (D-20) R 45.4%-54.6%
David Stevens (R-25) D 53.7%-46.3%
Frank Pratt (R-23) D 53.5%-46.5%
Nancy Young Wright (D-26) R 46.8%-53.2%
Russ Jones (R-24) D 52.0%-48.0%

Compare the two charts. I would guess that everybody from Rae Waters on up is in a real danger zone. Stevens and Pratt are in a lesser degree of danger. Young Wright and Jones should be fine.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Starving the Beast" in Reverse

Aside from the final paragraph, which is more Douthat as Republican more than Douthat as political analyst, this post does a good job of assessing the incentives and contraints that govern the existential battle between social democrats on the left and small-government conservatives on the right when it comes to actually implementing their long-term goals.

How Redistribution Works

From Matt Yglesias with cool graphs.


Illust : Election Chart, 90.6 kb, 567x740

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's the Deal With Rush's Speech?

I've heard and seen rave reviews about Rush Limbaugh's speech at CPAC (see Ross Douthat for those reviews he's reacted to thus far). I've just finished watching it and I don't get what the deal is. Frankly, Democrats should be ecstatic if the Republicans adopt Rushism as their programme.

His speech is Joe the Plumber on steroids. Obama won because McCain was too liberal. Obama = Stalin. Barney Frank wants to give poor people free houses. Tax cuts are the way out of the recession. Democrats hate successful people. Obama doesn't want America to be successful. The welfare state is the reason poverty exists. Obama wants to ruin the public education system so that people will be poor and vote for him. Rush even mocked the very concept of communities.

Now that would certainly be scary if it worked. It might be the most frightening this of all. But it doesn't. The McCain campaign adopted a version of this strategy in October 2008, asking the American people to choose between socialism and capitalism. Barack Obama won, and anyone who thinks that McCain would have won by going even further to the wingnut fringe is completely tone deaf.

I think the most telling part of the speech is near the beginning, when Rush says conservatives are for Life, Liberty (or Freedom), and the Pursuit of Happiness. He then says that America might be wondering why the CPAC audience is cheering that creed so furiously, to which he responds, "because WE think that they are under attack."

The fact that he has to explain the underlying assumption of his camp's ideology is proof enough that it's an ideology that Americans don't connect with. Maybe that's why Rush has a 25%-45% approval rating among Independents. Or why only a third of Americans are willing to call themselves Republicans.

Regardless, the Democratic Party is in great shape if the Republicans adopt Rush's command to cast out any and all who think that the welfare state is not evil or that tax cuts do not amount to an economic plan.

And that's why the administration is so keen on the idea of letting Rush be the leader of the GOP.

How Voters Want to Deal With D.C. Representation

25% Want to give them a Congressman
40% Want to give them to Maryland
26% Are too racist or partisan to care
9% Don't know

What Voters Are Thinking About

Check out how high ethics is on the list.