Teabaggers in 2010? : Debunking the Political Wisdom

Image from The Daily Globe.

Will the right wing seize power?
Looking ahead to November

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / May 7, 2010

[The Rag Blog doesn’t post a lot about election predictions, but I think it is important that the right-wingers don’t return to power in November. It is vital for the Democrats (with all their faults) to stay in the majority in both houses of Congress. — Ted McLaughlin.]

The conventional wisdom among political pundits these days is that the Democrats will suffer a humiliating defeat in the November elections — possibly even a bad enough defeat to cost them control of one or both houses of Congress. While the party out of power usually gains a few seats in an off-year election, I am still failing to see that the seats lost will be an abnormally large number, and the polls continue to support that view.

The latest poll is a Washington Post/ABC News Poll. The poll was conducted April 22nd through April 25th, and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Frankly, the poll shows the Democrats are not in nearly as bad a position as many pundits want people to believe. In fact, the numbers look pretty good for Democrats.

One interesting aspect of this poll does show that this has the capability to be a very volatile election. Consider the answers given when respondents were asked whether they would vote for their incumbent congressman or look around for an alternative:

Re-elect………………..32%
Look around…………57%
No opinion……………..9%

But when one looks at other numbers in the poll, it can easily be seen that this volatility is not just in Democratically-held districts. The numbers actually favor Democrats, and those districts that are volatile could well be Republican districts being challenged by teabagger candidates. Here are how the numbers look when respondents were asked which party they would vote for if the election were held today:

Democrat………………..48%
Republican………………43%
No opinion…………………6%

I think one reason many pundits are predicting a bad November for Democrats is the role of the teabagger movement. The reasoning is that the teabaggers are a broad-based movement made up of people from across the political spectrum, and when combined with Republicans they will outnumber Democrats. Fortunately that is just not true. The teabaggers are actually just an angry element of the Republican Party, and the poll numbers bear that out. Consider the answers to the following questions:

Which group best represents your own values?

Democrats………………..48%
Republicans………………24%
Teabaggers………………..14%

Which group is most concerned about needs of people like you?

Democrats………………..49%
Republicans………………23%
Teabaggers………………..17%

Which group best understands the economic problems people are having?

Democrats………………..48%
Republicans………………22%
Teabaggers………………..17%

As you can see, even when you add the teabaggers and the Republicans together they can only get 38-40% of the respondents. That doesn’t sound like the makings of a humiliating defeat for Democrats to me. Those numbers look great for Democrats (about triple the margin of error). When considered in their proper perspective, as only being an angry part of the Republican Party, it really doesn’t look like the teabaggers will have much of an effect on the coming election.

I still believe the most important issue in the coming election will be the economy. The above numbers show that people still trust Democrats with the economy more than Republicans by 48% to 39%. The Republicans still have a long way to go in convincing voters they can handle the economy better than Democrats, and their recent opposition to reforming Wall Street is not going to help them with that. Just consider the answer to the following question:

Do you support or oppose stricter federal regulations on the way Wall Street firms conduct their business?

Support………………..63%
Oppose…………………29%
No opinion……………..8%

The main way Republicans are trying to make themselves look better on the economy is their repeated attempts to blame President Obama for the continuing recession and the country’s deficit, but even that effort is failing to gain any traction. The poll asked respondents who they blamed for the current state of the economy and the current deficit. Here’s how they answered:

Who’s more responsible for the current state of the economy?

Barack Obama………………..25%
George W. Bush……………..59%

Who’s more responsible for the current federal budget deficit?

Barack Obama………………..22%
George W. Bush……………..60%

Right-wing organizations and corporations have sunk a lot of money into advertisements, lobbyists and funding for teabagger protests. The teabaggers have been loud and obnoxious. And the Republicans have told a multitude of lies. But it doesn’t look like it’s done much good so far. They still haven’t convinced a majority of the country that Republicans could rule better than the Democrats.

Of course, the real key to how the election will go in November is turnout — especially Democratic turnout. The Republicans are angry and desperate, and they will go to the polls. If the Democrats can get their people to the polls they will do well (as the numbers show). If they don’t then they will not do well. It’s as simple as that.

There’s still six months to go before the election (and something unexpected could still happen). But the question right now is whether the Democrats can get their voters energized in the remaining time. The outcome of the election hangs on that.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

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9 Responses to Teabaggers in 2010? : Debunking the Political Wisdom

  1. Richard says:

    Ted,

    I usually enjoy and learn from your postings, but this one is just so wrong.

    The only ones who will suffer defeat in November is the American people and especially the working class.

    The proper position to take is to advise everyone not to vote, for anyone, least they be humiliated.

    Not voting is the first step to defeating capitalism, electing more corrupt politicians only strengthens that vile system.

  2. We’ll have to disagree on this one. Not voting will simply allow the lunatic right-wing to regain power. The Democrats leave a lot to be desired, but letting the Republicans regain power will mean a return to the insanity of the Bush years (or worse).

  3. While the party out of power usually gains a few seats in an off-year election, I am still failing to see that the seats lost will be an abnormally large number, and the polls continue to support that view. I am saving that quote and this column for review on November 3rd.

    The “working class” Richard mentions have seen their wages destroyed, their childrens educational systems damaged, their safety net services overloaded, and their taxes raised by the illegal immigrant slave labor that both parties and both sides of the border facilitate. So explain to me again how election of political leadership in a city or state or nation is irrelevant?

  4. Richard says:

    Ted,
    You have more fear of the Republican party than I do. Corrupt politicians take a name, Republican or Democrat and change that name with no change in their blind ambition to fill their pockets and get themselves re-elected. You don’t see them as the same animal, I do.

    An act of civil “disobiedance” that would catch their attention is for the people to not vote en mass, and to take their vote to the streets.

    Elections are a scam, they don’t count the votes anyway, (see Florida 1992, Ohio 1996) and use the results, (total votes) to claim that they have the support of the people.

    We would be no worse off with Republicans than with Democrats except in the minds of the Liberal Democrats.

    Same old game. How can you always win any game? Refuse to play. If you don’t play you can’t lose.

    DHS, Elections would only be relevant if electing a different corrupt politician would create a different result. The eight years of Repubicans and the last year of Democrats has seen no change at all. Will electing more and different pols not end in more of the same? If change is to happen we need to change the system not the actors.

    One last thing, the working class has suffered as it always will in a capitalist system, it is rigged against them. Middle Class? No such thing, class is determined by how you make the money not by how much you make. Two choices, either one works for a living or one owns for a livng.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Richard/Ted: If you haven’t read Joel Hirschhorn’s Delusional Democracy, it’s well worth the time for his novel ideas.

  6. Don says:

    Ted,

    Thanks for a good post. Dems can reduce losses if they(1) remind people swho created the mess, (2) remind voter that the GOP will repeal health care reform, (3) defend their accomplishments as essentially centrist, (4) remind people of Republican obstructionism, and (5) revisit health care with a few proposals to reign in costs.

    Progressives who say they do not want to remember how far right the Repugs really are.

    Obama seems to have conceded too much to the deep state in Afghanistan policy and letting Republicans retain control of the Justice Department. Maybe he had no choice, as some speculate.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Richard wrote:
    Elections would only be relevant if electing a different corrupt politician would create a different result. The eight years of Repubicans and the last year of Democrats has seen no change at all. Will electing more and different pols not end in more of the same? If change is to happen we need to change the system not the actors.

    Riddle me this, Batman… If we don’t change the actors, how in the hell do you expect to change the system?? Will a (much needed) revolution to overthrow the existing form of government do any good? I doubt it.. It took some pretty gawd damn bright people to form the government we have.. and THAT took a decade+ to get thirteen “colonies” to ratify. How long will it take fifty states, several US Territories and 300 MIllion “legal” U.S Citizens (assuming they all get off their fat asses and vote!) to create, much less vote up or down, a new system??

  8. I get Richards point. And I do agree that any politician in Washington today is corrupted.

    I am curious about the logistics of his suggestion. In Nov 2004 ~126Mil people voted nationwide. During congressional elections in 2006, ~96Mil people voted. That means 30 million people (24%) stayed home (not boycotters, just lazy). But yet, there was no change in the current corrupt “system”.

    I don’t know what % of voters would need to skip elections to change the system, but the data suggests tens of millions of additional boycotted votes would be required. Even if voter rates were half their normal value, there is no guarantee that the current system would be shocked into changing.

    There is currently an effort to change the system from within. If/When it becomes clear to the average Wal-Mart shopper in flyover country that change from within has failed, that their votes are meaningless, then change will come through violence and protest and revolution. The American citizen is under no requirement to tolerate a corrupt and inept government.

  9. Richard says:

    Anon,
    Sounds like you would want us to defeat this vile corrupt system only to repeat the past and re-incarnate that same system.

    DHS, You are right that it is a mission seemingly impossible. The media are crucial to any meaningful voter “boycott” at the polls. If the media say that the 24% no shows in 1996 were just “lazy,” how would they know that? I for one did not vote first out of self respect and an understanding of the anarchist politics that I live. I know of others who purposely did not vote as a personal rejection of the system.

    Things can be organized very quickly in the internet world.

    The politicians always point to the number of voters to show their legitimacy. Every vote, no matter who for, is a vote for approval of the corrupt system. Few, people approve of this system, yet they register approval and at the same time elect and re-elect the same guys.

    Success of the No Vote campaign might require less voters than you estimate, the percentage will be whatever the press says it is.

    The only thing that a politician cares about is getting reelected. Any sign of voter resistance might frighten them into doing what is right, (at least for a minute.)

    The American citizen is under no obligation to tolerate a corrupt and inept economic system.

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