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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Rural Voter

The new book White Rural Rage employs a deeply misleading sensationalism to gain media attention. You should read The Rural Voter by Nicholas Jacobs and Daniel Shea instead.

Read the memo.

There is a sector of working class voters who can be persuaded to vote for Democrats in 2024 – but only if candidates understand how to win their support.

Read the memo.

The recently published book, Rust Belt Union Blues, by Lainey Newman and Theda Skocpol represents a profoundly important contribution to the debate over Democratic strategy.

Read the Memo.

Democrats should stop calling themselves a “coalition.”

They don’t think like a coalition, they don’t act like a coalition and they sure as hell don’t try to assemble a majority like a coalition.

Read the memo.

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy The Fundamental but Generally Unacknowledged Cause of the Current Threat to America’s Democratic Institutions.

Read the Memo.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Read the memo.


The Daily Strategist

June 22, 2024

Lamont Victory: Where He Got the Votes

There is no shortage of post-mortems on Lamont’s Connecticut victory in today’s blogs and rags, addressing his win from every conceivable issue-angle. For a high-profile contest, however, the reporting on who voted for each candidate has been somewhat sketchy. Connecticut papers do offer a few clues. An editorial by the Hartford Courant, which endorsed Lieberman, noted:

…the unprecedented rush of registered unaffiliated voters and new voters to the Democratic Party in Connecticut in recent weeks is a phenomenon that should keep Karl Rove awake at night.

The Courant reported that more than 40 percent of eligbile voters turned out, 15 percent more than the last Connecticut Democratic primary, a 1994 contest for the gubernatorial nomination. Writing in The Connecticut Post Peter Urban and Michael P. Mayko note that 28,886 voters were “newly registered or switched from unaffiliated since May 1.”
Mark Pazniokas of The Hartford Courant offers this assessment:

Lamont rolled up lopsided margins in the Farmington Valley, Litchfield County, the lower Connecticut River Valley and scattered suburbs around the state. He won Hartford and Lieberman’s hometown of New Haven, which first elected Lieberman to the state Senate in 1970.
Lieberman dominated in the New Haven suburbs, the struggling rural towns of eastern Connecticut and old mill towns of the Naugatuck Valley, home of conservative Reagan Democrats and the place he chose to begin his campaign bus tour 10 days ago. He also took Bridgeport.

Mystery Pollsterl Mark Blumenthal has a few insights in his “Connecticut Epilogue,” including:

The geographic turnout patterns are also relevant. Charles Franklin has already posted an amazingly thorough (and graphical) turnout analysis of the turnout showing that Lieberman did better in the larger towns and cities, while Lamont did better in less urban areas. He also confirms the so-called “Volvo/donut” turnout pattern suggested yesterday by Hotline On-Call, that turnout was higher in the smaller towns where Lamont had an advantage, lower in the larger towns where Lieberman did better (see also Hotline’s follow-up analysis this morning).

Looking toward the future, As an Independent, Lieberman hopes to win voters from Connecticut’s 453,715 Republican and 929,005 unaffiliated registered voters. But if he takes the higher road of affirming Democratic party unity, Lamont should hold the seat for the Democrats.

BlogiStan (Greenberg)

by Scott Winship
I’ve been meaning to plug a number of pieces by organizations that one of my bosses (Stan Greenberg) heads up. First, those who are sick of me intimating that Democrats ought to moderate their positions should definitely check out “How Democrats Can Use Polling to Win Elections,” by Amy Gershkoff of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Amy argues that Democratic pollsters and polling audiences need to ape Republicans not on issue positions, but in the way they design and use polls.
Amy offers three recommendations:
Collect data on issue importance and then analyze the voting patterns of the electorate by issues rather than by demographics. No more, “Married blue-collar Catholic men vote for X.” Instead, consider how people for whom, say, Iraq is the most important issue allocate their votes. This approach filters out data on issue preferences that are only weakly held and focuses on the issues that really affect voting.
When attempting to woo Independents, emphasize only issues that are of critical importance to them. It turns out that these issues are more likely to be terrorism and red-button values issues rather than health care and jobs. Similarly, when trying to increase Democratic turnout, campaigns should also focus on their critical issues.
Focus on issues that are extremely important to lots of people (rather than just somewhat important) and where the Democratic position is the most popular. Attempt to increase the salience of these issues among voters for whom the issue is only somewhat important (e.g., Iraq in 2004).
This accords with my distrust of lots of demographic segmentation analyses. A pollster might find that married women favor pulling out of Iraq by a 60 to 40 margin and then recommend that Democrats emphasize a pull-out so that they can improve their performance among married women. But it may be that many of those pro-pull-out voters were going to vote Democratic anyway, and so if one really wanted to improve one’s performance among married women, one should emphasize staying the course (to woo some of the anti-pull-out women. That would only make sense if a stay-the-course position didn’t actually lose voters who otherwise would have supported the candidate, but without knowing anything about how many and who finds Iraq extremely important, it’s not obvious which strategy to take.
The second Greenberg-related piece is a Democracy Corps memo [pdf] written with James Carville, “Getting Heard: Points of Engagement for a Change Election.” Greenberg and Carville argue that to maximize chances of winning back control of Congress, Democrats need to advance “ideas and critiques that are newsworthy”, promote an agenda that portrays them as “agents of change”, and elevate the importance of economic issues in the campaign. In terms of specifics, they advocate linking Congressional pay raises to minimum wage increases, making consideration of hot-button values issues contingent on passing legislation to reduce economic insecurity, pushing for Congressional oversight of Iraq spending, and repealing corporate tax breaks. They also suggest a college tuition tax credit, changing energy policy to focus on alternative fuels, and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies.
The call for repealing corporate tax cuts is a bit incongruent with their finding that the biggest fear voters have of Democrats is that they will raise taxes. On the other hand, Greenberg and Carville do call for middle-class tax cuts (the college tuition tax credit), and the proposed Iraq oversight would likely promote reduced spending.
Finally, Democracy Corps has also released an analysis of public polling, by Karl Agne, that provides nearly 50 pages of polling questions from various organizations on all of the hot political topics of the day. The basic conclusions are that things haven’t changed much for a few months and that that’s good new for Democrats, given how lousy things look for Bush and the GOP. Polling junkies go nuts. (Incidentally, you can google the Democracy Corps website to find these comprehensive summaries going back several years. Definitely a valuable resource if you’re interested in a particular topic that isn’t currently in the news or if you are looking for trend data.)
Time for more coffee. Did you know that Starbucks has the most caffeinated coffee on the market? Did you know that you can order a “short” coffee, latte, or cappuccino even though that option’s not mentioned anywhere by Starbucks? Can you guess where I do most of my blogging?

GOP Strategy Memo Urges Focus on Iraq, Security Issues

In his article in today’s LA TimesGOP Leaders Are Hoping to Turn the War Into a Winner,” Peter Wallsten reports on a new Republican Party strategy memo urging party leaders to stress Bush’s leadership on Iraq and other national security concerns as the best way to turn out their base. As Wallsten explains:

The memo suggested that Republicans could motivate their base in the upcoming elections by talking about foreign threats and national security issues, including Iraq and the potential nuclear threat from Iran, and by drawing contrasts with Democrats in those areas. It said “a huge 87% of the base expresses extremely strong feelings” about national security issues….The memo showed that the strategists hoped to stick to their post-2000 playbook of galvanizing the base using national security and other hot-button issues, asserting that 95% of base voters are either “almost certain” or “very likely” to vote this year.

However, as Wallsten notes, A recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll indicated that 49% of respondents “strongly disapproved” of Bush’s Iraq policy. And according to a new Washington Post ABC News poll reported by Peter Baker and Claudia Deane:

Among voters across the board, 38 percent say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support Bush on Iraq compared with 23 percent who are more likely to support them.

The WaPo poll reports that 52 percent of respondents favor the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, with 39 percent for the Republican and respondents now “trust” Democrats to do a better job fighting against terrorism than Republicans by a margin of 46 percent to 38 percent. The poll indicates Dems have “a big advantage among independents,” according to Deane and Baker.
And the base referred to in the GOP strategy memo may be more fractured than its authors acknowledge. As WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. recently observed:

Between now and November, conservative leaders will dutifully try to rally the troops to stave off a Democratic victory. But their hearts won’t be in the fight.

If Dionne is right, Dems may be celebrating a political trifecta in November — winning majorities of the House, Senate and governorships.

No End of Ideology: A Partial Response and Addendum

by Scott Winship
I wasn’t going to take the time to respond to the criticism of my piece in the American Prospect from last week, but then two prominent bloggers questioned my honesty and the quality of my work, which I can’t abide. This response is intended to be a defense of my motives and research. The American Prospect will soon publish has published a companion response piece to substantive criticisms levied at my essay by commentators affiliated with the magazine. I urge you to read both responses if you are interested in this debate.
I do want to emphasize from the outset that the arguments I have made and make below are mine and not the views of The Democratic Strategist. The Strategist takes no stand on this or any other issue, being dedicated to empiricism and to engaging all factions of the Democratic Party in order to build an enduring majority. As managing editor, one of my jobs is to solicit contributions from a diverse pool of political professionals, astute observers, academics, and activists. As blogger, I am responsible for providing my own perspective on the events and issues of the day. As it turns out, I have spent far more time on the issue of the netroots than I ever intended, and I hope that with these responses I can move on to other important topics.
First, I need to make two exculpatory clarifications by way of defending myself. The first is that I was not responsible for the “slug” used to promote my piece (“Netroots members insist that they’re non-ideological pragmatists. They’re wrong.”). While I don’t disagree with the point it conveys, the way it was expressed is more antagonistic than I would have begun my piece. The title that the Prospect’s editors gave to my friend Mark Schmitt’s piece – “Putting Down Netroots” – also had the unfortunate effect of making me look hostile to the netroots. I don’t fault the American Prospect for this – the provocative words the editors used likely brought more readers to my piece, and they need to attract eyeballs themselves.
I tried as best I could to make my piece as dispassionate as possible while still making the points I intended to argue. I hope that whatever the reader thinks of my piece, he or she will agree that it is written in a respectful tone. Indeed, nowhere do I indicate that I think liberalism is bad, and truth be told, I have quite liberal views myself (see this introductory post to my blog).
All of this is a preface to denying Chris Bowers’s assertion that I “clearly [take] sides with” the view that the netroots are “amateurish ideologues whose across-the-board liberalism will drive the party off a cliff.” In hindsight, it’s regrettable that after laying out the two opposing views among the most vocal participants in the Lieberman debate, I preface my analysis with “Who’s right?” which implies that I must choose one or the other side. To clarify, I do take the views that the netroots are almost uniformly liberal, that this liberalism affects their politics, and that it may have implications for the Democratic Party’s electoral success. On the other hand, nothing in my piece argues the netroots are “amateurish”, and I acknowledge in the final paragraph of my piece that even if I am right about the netroots’ ideological predisposition and the role it plays in their decisions, it may not be problematic for the party.
The second clarification is that I would like to have addressed more points than I did in the piece, but I was already well over the word limit I had been given. Space limitations were the reason I did not discuss Chris’s survey, and as will become clear, I don’t believe my omission of any mention of it makes my case “flimsy”. I strongly object to any insinuation that I omitted mention of it out of dishonesty.
On that note, while I have enjoyed my email discussions with Chris and while I admire the value he places on bringing data to netroots discussions, I am unpersuaded that his BlogPac survey of MoveOn.org members is the “best” data available. (Incidentally, I previously had explained this opinion and defended my reasons for using the Pew survey here and here.) Chris is right that my initial objection was to the low response rate in his survey, which may not be low by the standards of internal campaign polls but is very low indeed by the standards of academic research. Chris dismisses the risk low response rates pose to the validity of his results, calling my concern “preposterous”, but low response rates are generally a very big problem.
By way of example, let’s say one had wanted to conduct a survey of the views of Democratic voters in 2004. But to do so, one conducted a survey of delegates at the Democratic National Convention – a very small and unique group of Democratic voters. From this survey, one would have concluded [pdf] that only 12 percent of Democratic voters believed the federal government was too involved in private life. In actuality, the figure was 45 percent. The problem is that convention delegates do not represent Democratic voters as a whole.
When the decision to participate in a survey or not is up to the individual, if only a small number of them agree to participate, then there’s every reason to worry that those people are unrepresentative in the same way as DNC delegates are unrepresentative of Democratic voters. Indeed, this is almost surely the biggest problem with presidential exit polls – the people who agree to stop and take the survey are different from those who do not (in particular, they are more Democratic).
The problem of sample self-selection is potentially worsened in Chris’s case because he has – not inappropriately – been a strong advocate of the view that perceptions of the netroots are inaccurate. If the MoveOn.org members who received a request to participate in the survey were informed that the survey was sponsored by BlogPac or involved Chris, I would worry that this would disproportionately attract those who share Chris’s desire to prove the MSM wrong about netroots demographics and politics. The result would be a very select group of respondents that didn’t represent MoveOn.org members as a whole.
The Pew survey I used in my piece has a response rate twice that of Chris’s, but even so, it falls well short of academic standards too. I previously defended the Pew survey on the grounds that the researchers had conducted checks to see how biased their select sample might be. I have since learned that Chris’s survey involved similar checks, and so my concerns are somewhat alleviated. Nevertheless, for Chris to argue that in principle low response rates couldn’t bias his results is just all kinds of wrong.
My bigger concern about Chris’s results, though, is that he defined the “netroots” in a peculiar way. Chris and I disagree, but my own starting point was that the netroots consist of political blog participants. That is also Markos Moulitsas’s view, as indicated by the quote I included in my piece. Chris disagrees and would extend the definition to include, for instance, anyone who ever signed a MoveOn.org petition or donated money to a campaign online. (He expressed this view to me via email.) The problem is that this definition doesn’t pass the mom-and-dad test. My parents have been quite active with their local MoveOn.org chapter, but until I started writing about them a few weeks ago, they had no idea what the netroots were and only read blogs if I pointed them toward one.
If one agrees with Markos and me that one needs to participate in political blogs to be in the netroots, then Chris’s working definition makes it impossible to interpret his results as representing the netroots. According to the figures on his “50-State Strategy” chart here, those who “regularly” read “blogs such as Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, or MyDD” amount to just 19 percent of his sample. Nearly 4 in 10 said they never read blogs.
I should say that even if I did not disagree with Chris, I don’t have access to his data, so I have to make do with what is available. Chris clearly has information on blog participation in his survey, so it would be easy for him to re-run his results looking only at that sub-group. Do I know that his results would confirm mine? No, but I’d be more inclined to take them seriously. Heck, if he wants to give me the data, I’ll look at the results and summarize them myself, whether they support or contradict my conclusions. I have no dog in this fight.
That said, beyond Chris’s data and sample, I do dispute a few of his other conclusions. (From here on out, I will take the above data and sample issues as unproblematic.) Consider first his chart showing that 73 percent agree that the party should run inspirational candidates who communicate clearly, while 24 percent agree that it should run candidates who are liberal across the board. I’ll first note that the fact that one-quarter of the netroots – by Chris’s definition – is unambiguously ideological is not to be dismissed lightly. Furthermore, if we compare the percent who strongly agree with each position – and the netroots are nothing if not strong-minded – the split is not 73/24 but 32/18. Restricting the definition of “netroots” to blog participants would surely produce a result showing that a larger share is unambiguously ideological.
Another problem with Chris’s interpretation eludes the basic issue at hand. What is inspirational to the netroots is likely going to elicit their liberalism or populism (see Governor Schweitzer). While it may be, as Chris’s poll finds, that in the abstract the netroots prefer inspiration to (uniformly) liberal positions, in practice they are not likely to find inspirational candidates who do not share the bulk of their views. If netroots members assume that these liberal positions or populist attitudes will inspire other voters, as I claim a substantial share does, then this assumption may affect the fate of the party.
Who should the party run in conservative and swing districts? One in five of Chris’s respondents asserts it should run liberals no matter what the chances of winning. The rest say they would tolerate a moderate if “a liberal or progressive candidate may have little chance of winning.” Put this way, the fundamental problem is again eluded. The issue is when and where a liberal has little chance of winning. And one point that I make in my piece is that two-thirds of the netroots seems to believe either that voters are more liberal than they are or that a candidate’s ideology doesn’t matter. Finally, I’ll again note that the breakdown among those who strongly agree that the party should run moderates in moderate areas is not 78/19, but 36/12.
Regarding Chris’s emphasis on the diverse Democrats supported by the netroots, I’ll first note that of the six most favorably-rated politicians in his data, none voted for the Iraq resolution (either because they voted against it or because they were not in Congress at the time of the vote). Furthermore I think the two most relevant findings are that Russ Feingold leads all potential presidential candidates except Al Gore and Barack Obama – both of whom claim they are not considering running – in the number of people giving them a “very favorable” rating (and Jack Murtha and Barbara Boxer out-poll him), and that less than four in ten of the people in Chris’s sample gave very favorable ratings to any candidate save Gore and Obama.
Before putting Chris’s criticisms aside, I have to emphasize that his post ironically demonstrates one of the central points of my essay: that the ideology of the netroots – masked as pragmatism – serves to stifle critiques from moderates. Chris worries that if (when?) Lieberman loses, my piece will be used to bolster negative views of the netroots. Put aside the fact that I claim nothing about the netroots other than that they are liberal and ideological; my piece begins with the sentence, “Tuesday’s Connecticut primary race between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont is not about the netroots.” (emphasis in original)
To be clear: It’s not that I don’t care whether my piece is misused by ideologues on the center or right; it’s that I care more whether the ideology of the netroots will hurt the party. The netroots can’t rule out on principle critiques from the center because they “reinforce Republican talking points.” To do so is to use partisanship as an excuse for opposing an ideological critique that runs counter to their liberalism.
To Stirling Newberry’s charge that “people like [me]” are ideological, I can only say, “Guilty!” Note that nowhere in my piece do I say being ideological is inherently bad – I just raise the issue of whether a particular ideology is helpful or hurtful to the party. The only relevant question about my own ideology is whether it supersedes my objectivity, and if Newberry wants to argue it does, then bring…it…on…
It seems that Newberry needs a guide to rhetoric, which I’m happy to provide here. The belief that his TPMCafe photo is pretentious, for instance, would be an opinion. The major arguments in my essay would be supported factual claims, even if we might disagree about the extent to which they are adequately supported. The bulk of Newberry’s blog post consists of opinion and unsupported factual claims. For example, he writes that I assume that moderates aren’t ideological. This is a factual claim about me, but unsupported by anything I wrote in my piece. About moderates, he writes,

They are more willing [than the netroots] to engage in violence to defend their interests and world view, they are more hostile to outsiders and they are more rigid in their thinking. They have an ideology which they use to force fit everything into a very small view of the world.

For Newberry and the similarly confused: this is a mix of unsupported factual claims and opinion. The claim about violence is also – opinion coming – bizarre.
Newberry has the right to call me “sloppy”, but he could not have picked a more offensive epithet to throw at me. Hopefully it’s clear from this defense and my companion response that he wouldn’t know sloppy if it gave him a wet kiss.
Moderates care about the party as much as liberals do and in fact share most of their views. The question of whose strategic assessment of the electorate is more correct is an empirical one that all of us ought to be working to get to the bottom of. That was the intent of my piece, and it is the intent of everything that I write in this blog. Aside from the side-splitting humor.

Rising Environmental Concerns Boost Dems

A major new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll addressing global warming and other environmental concerns brings more bad news for Republicans. The poll, conducted 7/28 to 8/1 in the midst of a nation-wide heat wave, indicates that Dems have a strong advantage on the entire range of environmental issues. For example, when asked which party “does a better job in Congress when it comes to handling environmental issues, the Democrats of Republicans?,” 50 percent favored Dems, with only 22 percent chosing the GOP. The poll also showed heightened concerns about global warming, with 73 percent of respondents agreeing that is is “a serious problem,” compared to two-thirds back in 2001. The poll addressed a broad range of major environmental issues, and none of the statistics favor the GOP. The issue is a huge winner for Dems.

Pundits See Dems Chances Improving

Heat wave got you feeling a little limp and ragged? Hie thee to Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, where Sabato and U. Va. Center for Politics colleague David Wasserman have an energy jolt for battle-weary Dems in their article “The 2006 Midterms: Guilt by Association? Trends show an impact on contests across the nation.” The authors paint an encouraging picture of campaign ’06 as the 100 day countdown begins:

Surer signs are emerging that something more substantial than a “micro-wave” is heating up this summer. Historical trends and big picture indicators–generic congressional ballot tests and approval ratings of President Bush’s job performance in particular – have always been heavily stacked against the GOP in this “sixth year itch” cycle, but aggregations of more race-specific indicators are now suggesting that Republicans are headed for their most serious midterm losses in decades.
…more voters and local Democratic leaders than ever before seem ready to cast aside their personal affections for longtime GOP incumbents for the sake of sending Congress and the Bush administration a message. Possible Democratic takeover seats such as Rep. Johnson’s and Virginia GOP Rep. Thelma Drake’s, which seemed implausible targets as recently as a year ago, have slowly moved down the pipeline into contention, are now fully engaged by party committees alongside the nation’s most competitive. These are the kinds of movements that are characteristic of “macro-wave” elections, the only kind of election that would flip the leadership of Congress to Democrats this year.

Sweet. And it gets even better, say Wasserman and Sabato:

In the past month or so, it’s appeared as if Democrats have been on the upswing almost effortlessly as members of the GOP have suffered under the burden of the administration’s sagging numbers. More individual races are attracting the attention of voters and donors as Election Day comes into closer view, the overwhelming preponderance of finance reports and voter surveys released in the last month have shown races moving in principally one direction–towards Democrats.
…But often the story is best told by the polls that aren’t released: in the past month, the Crystal Ball has encountered a veritable ocean of polling data released by Democratic candidates and consultants touting substantial (if unbelievable) advances, but GOP firms haven’t been nearly as eager to release private polling. As long as this remains the horse-race storyline, it won’t be hard to tell which party is entering the final stretch of 2006 with confidence in their prospects.

And the authors are jacking up their assessment of Democratic prospects in November:

In this inhospitable climate, the GOP could well get burned worse than initially expected. At this stage, the Crystal Ball is shifting its outlook from a Democratic gain of 6-8 to a Democratic gain of 12-15 seats in the House. We also believe that our original guestimate of a Democratic gain of 2 or 3 seats in the Senate is probably too low; we now expect a Democratic Senate gain of a minimum of 3 seats and a maximum of 6 seats…In the governorships we will now be surprised if Democrats do not pick up at least 4 net governorships, bringing them to a total of 26 of the 50 statehouses. The Democratic gubernatorial gains could even be as high as 6 statehouses.

But, echoing the conclusion of an earlier DCORPs study, Sabato and Wasserman have a cautionary proviso:

Democrats cannot truly capitalize on the withering political climate faced by the GOP unless they succeed in convincing large numbers of voters to evaluate their home-state Republican candidates through the powerful lens of national displeasure. In other words, the size of Democrats’ gains will be contingent upon how well they play the game of guilt by (Bush) association as Republicans seek to escape the shadow of their unpopular chief executive.

Fair enough, and we suspect that there will be no shortage of Democratic candidates eager to accept this challenge.

American Prospect Piece on Netroots

by Scott Winship
For those who just can’t get enough of my netroots obsession, the American Prospect has published a piece by yours truly that synthesizes the various posts I’ve written here and refines the points I’ve been trying to make. Like everything in The Daily Strategist, my opinions and perspectives do not represent The Democratic Strategist, and I suspect that only one of my bosses would fully embrace the article. I still like the other two though.

Dem Turnout Concerns Tempered by Evaporation of GOP Safe Seats

Jim VandeHei’s WaPo article “Democrats Scrambling To Organize Voter Turnout” reports growing concern among Dems that their GOTV program is lagging behind the GOP’s ground game. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined the critics, says VandeHei:

Pelosi — echoing a complaint common among Democratic lawmakers and operatives — has warned privately that Democrats are at risk of going into the November midterm elections with a voter-mobilization plan that is underfunded and inferior to the proven turnout machine run by national Republicans.
…”What the party really needs is to get serious about local, volunteer-based” operations, said Jack Corrigan, a longtime Democratic operative. “The last-minute, throw-money-at-it approach . . . does not really solve the fundamental failure to organize that is there. The DNC is moving in the right direction, but needs to do more, fast,” he said.

VandeHei quotes DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s reply that “What many people do not realize is that…we are turning our operation into a 50-state, get-out-the-vote effort.” Dean is asking donors for $25 per month for the Dems’ GOTV effort.
The GOP turnout program does sound better-coordinated in VandeHei’s description. But pro-Democratic groups, including the AFL-CIO, America Votes and MoveOn are also gearing up for a major turnout effort. In addition, it appears that GOP resources will be stretched a bit thinner in November. L.A Times staff writer Janet Hook reports mounting evidence that a good many of the GOP’s historically “safe” House of Reps seats are now being aggressively contested — and more vigorously defended.

Who You Callin’ Obsessive?

by Scott Winship
OK…which one of you guys is responsible for this? Believe it or not, I had no role in putting that together.
As you may recall, I’ve been pretty tough on the demographic research firm American Environics. (see here, here, and here). My biggest criticism has been that their data appears to contradict the respected American National Election Study, showing strange trends and implausible levels of authoritarianism. The statistic that always seemed craziest to me was their claim that in 2004, 52 percent of Americans – not 52 percent of men, mind you – agreed that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house”. Fifty-two percent? Surely no more than, say, 30 percent of women would agree with that, meaning that 70 percent of men would have to agree. No way.
And the NES justified my disbelief: 78 percent of adults agreed that “women should have an equal role with men in running business, industry and government”. Only 16 percent agreed in the General Social Survey that “women should take care of the home, not the country”. My current boss, Ruy Teixeira, and I came up with a number of other reasons to question their data.
Well, let me backtrack a little bit. I recently saw AE’s principals, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, give a presentation on their research. The first “interesting…” moment came when they announced that their survey had a question that matched the NES “equal role” question I just cited. They found that 87 percent – compared with our 78 percent – agreed that women should have an equal role. In other words, both surveys implied that Americans think men and women should have equal opportunities outside the home, but AE’s implied that a majority believes fathers should rule the home.
But I still wasn’t buying it. I next went to a breakout session that Nordhaus and Shellenberger gave. This was one of those times where I just couldn’t let go of something. So when I saw an attendance sheet being passed around the room, I got an idea that I shouldn’t have pursued…but I did. The conference was mainly comprised of state and local elected officials. All of them had seen Nordhaus’s and Shellenberger’s first talk. I wrote at the top of a sheet of paper, “What percentage of your constituents would agree that the father must be the master of his home?” I made three columns: State, Male Constituents, and Female Constituents. And then I passed it to my right, telling my neighbor that, “We’re supposed to pass this around.”
Then I watched as the survey made it to Nordhaus’s immediate left, was walked over to the attendee on Shellenberger’s immediate right, and eventually made it back to me. You can’t imagine how much I enjoyed this. I held onto the survey and later tallied up the responses.
Well, in the end I found that the average attendee thought that 43 percent of her or his constituents agreed with male supremacy in the home. “Interesting…” moment number two.
Of course, there were umpteen million problems with my “survey”. So late that night, when I should have been sleeping, I was instead looking for more evidence. Eventually I stumbled upon a polling data archive [$] that included a question that was worded almost just like the AE question. This question – in a 2000 survey administered by the marketing research firm DDB Needham Worldwide – asked whether respondents agreed that “the father should be the boss in the house.” And you just know what’s coming, don’t you? “Interesting…” moment number three. The survey found that 44 percent of adults agreed.
Nordhaus and Shellenberger found that people were becoming more male supremacist between 1992 and 2004, so the AE figure for 2000 is presumably lower than 52 percent. That puts the DDB Needham figure and the AE figure reasonably close – maybe eight points apart – but it’s still a fairly notable discrepancy.
Similarly, while AE’s data showed that 40 percent of Americans agreed that “men are naturally superior to women” in 2004, the DDB Needham data put the figure at 30 percent in 2003.
Now this sounds like I’m poking another stick in the eyes of Nordhaus and Shellenberger, but actually, I’m feeling a little better about their data. Their survey includes Americans as young as 15, and I suspect that if N&S excluded the 15-17-year-olds, their male supremacy figures would drop a little bit more, basically because a lot of teenagers are immature or disproportionately come from families and cultures with more traditional family roles.
Nonetheless, there are still a number of discrepancies between the AE data and the NES, including trends that go in opposite directions. In a perfect world, AE would provide access to their data, or at the very least more detail about their survey methods. But AE’s data is understandably proprietary, given that they operate in a competitive market. It should be easy enough, though, for them to provide additional basic tabulations so that others can compare them to other polls.
Anyway, how depressing is it that something like one in three American adults basically believes that women are inferior to men?….

Battle for the House – The GOP Scorecard

For a revealing look at the GOP skinny on some specific House of Reps races, read Kos’s post “House 2006: Reynolds names names.” Kos provides NRCC head Tom Reynolds’s assessment of endangered GOP incumbents, along with the NRCC perspective on vulnerable Dem incumbents, both culled from Reynolds’ recent Roll Call article. Kos reports the DCCC’s take on Reynolds’s analysis, noting that Reynolds, who has eliminated all mention of the word “Republican” from his own campaign’s website, is also vulnerable.