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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More Bad Advice From Schoen and Caddell

Having been repulsed rather decisively in their efforts to get Democrats to oppose health reform, pollster Doug Schoen and all-purpose svengali Pat Caddell return to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post with even worse advice for Democrats, if that’s possible.
You can trudge through their pastiche of Rasmussen poll findings about the terrible political shape of the Democratic Party, if you have the stomach for that. I don’t think any Democrats are laboring under the misimpressin that everything’s fine right now, and I really don’t see the point of Schoen and Caddell’s triumphant conclusion that Obama and Democrats got no big bounce out of enacting health reform; nobody’s claiming they did.
But it’s the strategic path they lay out for Democrats that’s really astounding. They think Dems should shift to an “agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts.” Aside from not explaining how, exactly, that differs from the approach of the Republican Party, Schoen and Caddell suggest this vast shift to the right in order to–get a load of this–win over the “swing voters” of the Tea Party movement. They base the swing voter attribution on an out-of-context finding by the Winston Group that 28% of tea partiers call themselves independents and 13% call themselves Democrats. That means, of course, that 57% self-identify as Republicans (compared to less than a third of the general public), and two-thirds self-identify as conservatives. But none of this self-identification data matters nearly as much as the actual views of the tea partiers, which, as was demonstrated once again by yesterday’s very detailed NYT/CBS survey, place them in the conservative base of the Republican Party.
These “swing voters,” by over 90%, dislike anything and everything about Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Their only unhappiness with the GOP is that it isn’t always conservative enough to suit them. They are predominately faithful Fox viewers. They exhibit considerable nostalgia for George W. Bush, and almost unanimously absolve him of any responsibility for either the economy or budget deficits. There is no “agenda” that can bring them around to supporting Obama or his party short of total surrender to the GOP, or in effect a reversal of the last general election, which, believe it or not, has as much authority as a single special election in Massachusetts or this week’s Rasmussen polls.
Democrats don’t need to hate or fear the tea partiers; they reflect a strain in the population, and particularly in the GOP, that’s always been there (a majority of them, after all, are over 45) , and that’s been radicalized by various events of the last couple of years. But lusting after them as “swing voters” would be the height of folly.
Schoen and Caddell need to give it a rest, lest Democrats begin to wonder why they don’t just go ahead and join the party that’s already committed to the spending cut/tax cut agenda they consider the ticket to political paradise.

One comment on “More Bad Advice From Schoen and Caddell

  1. James Vega on

    Schoen and Caddell are no more “democrats” because one of them once worked for Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan was a Democrat in 1980-88 because of his party registration in 1944.
    Fox news now needs a constant supply of bogus “democrats” and “independents” to act as paid punching bags willing to take a dive on camera and there is a ready supply of former-ex-has-been-once-upon-a-time-kinda-sorta-BS “Democrats” ready to climb out of their retirement winabagos to play the role.
    But for the washington post to go along with the charade is pathetic. These guys are no more authenic “Democrats” than Rush Limbaugh is a porn star.


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